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Thursday, March 11, 2004

Crash kills 'warm and loving' couple

Wed, March 10, 2004

Crash kills 'warm and loving' couple

By LAURA CZEKAJ, Ottawa Sun

A Kanata man who ran in the last municipal election and his wife of nearly 30 years died on the weekend in a head-on collision on Hwy. 60 in the west end of Algonquin Park. Killaloe OPP said Grant Johnston, 53, and his wife, Elizabeth, 48, died at the scene of the crash at around 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

"They were warm and loving and resourceful," said their daughter Julie Johnston, 23, from her parents' home last night. "They were just wonderful, beautiful people."

Johnston said her parents were on their way home from Barrie where they had stopped to visit their son Andrew, 21, his wife Courtney and their 10-month-old son Eric.

LOST CONTROL

Police said Colin Gill, 21, of Sterling was driving a 1993 Ford Explorer westbound on the highway when he lost control on a curve. The vehicle swerved into the opposite lane, colliding head-on with the Johnstons' 2001 Chevrolet Malibu.

Gill and his passenger, Levi Wannamaker, 21, of Marmora received non-life-threatening injuries and were transported to Huntsville Hospital.

In the recent municipal election, Grant Johnston, a contracts manager and former auditor, ran on a fiscally conservative platform with a cautious approach to development.

The Cobourg native lived in Kanata for 16 years before taking his first run for elected office.

Elizabeth had worked at the Nepean Hearing Centre helping the hearing impaired before being laid off in December.

The Johnstons had been together for nearly 30 years and met as high school sweethearts.

Julie, who attends York University, said her parents were downsizing and looking for a new home in the Toronto area so they could be closer to family and friends.

She said she last saw her parents on Saturday night when they visited her in Toronto.

"They were just starting on the second phase of their life," said Julie. "It's heartbreaking."

Municipal politicians remembered Grant Johnston as someone who wanted to improve his community.

"Grant was somebody who was full of ideas and full of solutions to problems and was eager to share them," said Alex Munter, who knew him through his former role as Kanata councillor.

Johnston was incredibly informed about hydro electricity and rates and was "passionate" about the subject, said Munter.

'SPECIFIC IDEAS'

"He was the kind of person who really like to get into the nuts and bolts -- an intellectual mechanic," said Munter.

Johnston had an arts degree from York University and had experience in cost-accounting and finance.

Kanata Coun. Peggy Feltmate said Johnston was brimming with ideas.

"He had specific ideas he wanted to put forward for his community," she said. "He did that and demonstrated that kind of care for the residents of Kanata."

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