Mr. Fred honoured by the community he served

Scarborough Community Council is naming the community garden east of the Campbell Estate on Kingston Road in honour of community leader Fred Johnson for his contributions to the community.

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“We’ve all been blessed,” his wife Aileen Johnson said.

Mr. Fred, as he was affectionately known by his family and friends, lived in Guildwood Village. He served as a councillor in Scarborough from 1988 until amalgamation in 1997.

He founded the Scarborough Girl’s Hockey League and East Scarborough’s first drop-in centre for youth. Johnson also served 20 years on the Guildwood Village Community Association.

“I can’t be accused of lionizing him after his death because I’ve been doing it my entire life,” said Aileen, who recalled her husband’s numerous community efforts.

Johnson requested the president of the girls league be a woman. That fact, according to Aileen, was what council was most taken aback by when the motion to have the park renamed was brought forth.

“He was ahead of his time,” said Aileen. “Some of the girls have been able to receive scholarships to various universities and colleges because of the league.”

Johnson’s contributions to the community left many saddened by his recent death. Aileen said she’s received letters from all over the world by people whose lives Johnson touched.

Johnson — who was also a King Scout, the highest honour a Boy Scout can receive — lived every day by the scouts’ code, according the Aileen.

“He lived that scout’s honour for God and his country,” Aileen said.

Johnson would fill up local ice rinks with water, often by himself, she said, though he would tell her he just helped. He often spent countless hours flooding the rinks for neighbourhood kids, even though he could no longer skate himself.

“That’s the kind of guy he was,” said Aileen, explaining she would not have approved of his filling the rinks by himself if she had known.

It was not until shortly after his death Aileen was made aware of this act of kindness.

“He’s a tough act to follow,” said Aileen.

Johnson was a frequent donator to Centenary Hospital. According to Aileen, whenever a family member had a surgery there, he would often donate $100 to the hospital in appreciation.

This type of generosity was displayed in many of his community efforts, which led to him being named citizen of the year for Scarborough in 1978.

The motion to have the community garden renamed was spearheaded by Ward 36 councillor Brian Ashton.

“Cities are built on the neighbourhood man,” said Ashton.

Johnson was 77 when he died Aug. 24, just days after the Scarborough Community Council decided to name the piece of land where a community garden was built last year.

Ashton said this garden was chosen not only because it was still unnamed but because the garden is located in the community that Johnson served.

A celebration of Johnson’s life ceremony is to be held in October in conjunction with the dedication of the garden.