To celebrate the Queen's spirit of the west, the Calgary Branch of the Queen's University Alumni Association launched a proud new Tricolour tradition. On October 20, 2001, the Branch held the inaugural tribute dinner honouring Dr. Ernie Johnson, MD'38, and his wife Edna, who has adopted Queen's as her alma mater.
Sadly, Ernie passed away in January, 2005. Before his death, Ernie, a retired ophthalmologist, and Edna, a former nurse, were longtime Queen's supporters par excellence.
Ernie was a gifted student, and during his years at Queen's he won several scholarships. He had an extraordinary medical career and held five medical fellowships and 18 medical association memberships. Ernie was a keen and very active volunteer, serving as president of the Canadian section of the International College of Surgeons and on the Board of Directors of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. For most of his career he maintained a practice in Calgary at the Johnson Eye Clinic and was a professor of surgery at the University of Calgary.
In 1963 Ernie and Edna helped found Operation Eyesight Universal which has performed hundreds of eye operations and established eye clinics in the world's poorest countries. In 1992 Ernie was named to the Order of Canada for his work on behalf of that cause. A year later, he was awarded the prestigious Canada 125 Medal.
Ernie was also a licensed pilot and was involved with the Civil Aviation Rescue Emergency Services.
Over the years, the Johnsons generously supported Queen's in various ways. Not only did they contribute to several bursaries (including establishing one in their own names for a final-year meds student), Ernie was a past-president of the Calgary Branch and served on the University Council (1982-1994). His support for Queen's was acknowledged in 1986, when he was named the first winner of the Alumni Achievement Award.
"Ernie and Edna Johnson have been a mainstay of the Calgary Alumni Branch for 60 years," says Kim Sturgess, Artsci'77, of the Calgary Branch. "The Branch is proud to have the opportunity to honour Edna and Ernie."