David Onley

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The Honourable
David Onley
David C. Onley, 2008.jpg
28th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
In office
September 5, 2007 – September 23, 2014
MonarchElizabeth II
Governor GeneralMichaëlle Jean
David Johnston
PremierDalton McGuinty
Kathleen Wynne
Preceded byJames Bartleman
Succeeded byElizabeth Dowdeswell
Personal details
BornDavid Charles Onley
(1950-06-12) June 12, 1950 (age 68)
Midland, Ontario
Spouse(s)Ruth Ann Onley

David Charles Onley,[2] CM OOnt (born June 12, 1950)[3] is a Canadian former journalist who served as the 28th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario[4] from 2007 until 2014.[5]

Prior to his viceregal appointment, Onley was a television journalist. He worked primarily for Citytv as a weather reporter, before moving on to cover science and technology stories. Later on, he worked with the 24-hour news station CablePulse 24 as a news anchor and host of a weekly technology series, Home Page. A published author, he was founding president of the Aerospace Heritage Foundation of Canada.

His seven-year term makes him the longest serving Lieutenant Governor of Ontario since Albert Edward Matthews (1937–1946) and the province's second longest serving viceroy since Confederation.

Early life[edit]

Onley was born in Midland, Ontario, and raised in West Hill on Orchard Park Drive in Scarborough,[6] now part of Toronto. He was educated at the University of Toronto Scarborough, served as student council president, and graduated with a degree in political science.

Beginning at the age of three,[7] Onley battled with polio, resulting in partial paralysis. However, as a result of extensive physical therapy, he regained the use of his hands and arms, and partial use of his legs. Onley is able to walk using leg braces and canes or crutches, but he generally prefers to get around using his electric scooter. He is able to drive a car using hand controls for acceleration and braking.


Onley began his career in radio, hosting a weekly science show for Toronto radio station CFRB, subsequently joining the CKO network in 1983. He then joined Citytv in 1984 as weather specialist, a position he held until 1989. In a 2004 interview with Link Up, a Toronto employment agency for people with disabilities, Onley stated that

From 1989 to 1995, he was the first news anchor on the then-new Breakfast Television, Citytv's morning show. He served as education specialist for Citytv and CablePulse 24 from 1994 to 1999. Onley became an anchor on CP24, when the station launched in 1999, and both hosted and produced Home Page on CP24.[6]

He was one of Canada's first on-air television personalities with a visible disability;[6] he uses a mobility device due to his paralysis. Camera shots began with only upper body shots, but Onley demanded that the shot include him in his mobility device. In honour of his contributions to the advancement of disability issues in Canada, he has received awards from the Terry Fox Hall of Fame in 1997,[6] and the Clarke Institute's Courage to Come Back award.[6] He was appointed Chair of the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council to the Minister of Community and Social Services in 2005.[9] He was most recently inducted into the Scarborough Walk of Fame in 2006.

Onley wrote Shuttle: A Shattering Novel of Disaster in Space, a bestselling novel about space travel, published in 1981. It was nominated by the Periodical Distributors of Canada as book of the year. He was founding president of the Aerospace Heritage Foundation of Canada.

Onley returned to his acting roots, with a cameo appearance in the sixth season of the Canadian TV series Murdoch Mysteries. The episode, "The Ghost of Queens Park" aired in Canada on February 25, 2013. In it he played the eighth Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Sir Oliver Mowat.[10]

As Lieutenant Governor[edit]

Onley's appointment as Lieutenant Governor was announced on July 10, 2007; he was privately informed of this after a July 4, 2007, taping of Home Page: "I just had reached the top of the Don Valley Parkway... and there was no place to pull over. And when the Prime Minister of your country calls, all you can try to do is stay in the same lane, avoid any fender-benders and have a meaningful conversation, which I did."[4]

He was sworn in on September 5, 2007, at Queen's Park in Toronto. As the province's first Lieutenant Governor with a disability, Onley said he would use his vice-regal position to help remove physical barriers to Ontario's 1.5 million people with disabilities, as well as focus on other issues affecting the disabled, including obstacles to employment and housing. Onley also stated, in his installation speech, that he would expand on his immediate predecessor James Bartleman's First Nations literacy initiatives, his aim being to see computers on every student's desk in northern schools.[11] For his installation, Onley approached the legislature on his electric scooter, however he ascended the Throne on foot, using leg braces and canes. Onley also travelled to China to represent the Queen and Canada at the 2008 Summer Paralympics opening ceremony.[12] Onley delivered his last speech from the throne to the Ontario Legislative Assembly on July 3, 2014; his last full day in office was September 22, 2014 with his successor sworn in the following afternoon.

Onley and his wife resided in their Scarborough home during his vice-regal tenure, as Ontario is one of three provinces that does not have an official vice-regal residence.[13]

During Onley's mandate, he participated in 2550 engagements, during which he spoke to an estimated audience of over one million people.[14]

Post-viceregal life[edit]

Onley was appointed as senior lecturer in the Department of Political Sciences at University of Toronto Scarborough, his alma mater. His appointment began on October 1, 2014. He also served as the University's Special Ambassador for the 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games.[15]

Personal life[edit]

He is married to Ruth Ann Onley, a Christian music performer.[16] They have three sons, Jonathan, Robert and Michael.[6]

Titles, styles, honours and awards[edit]

Viceregal styles of
David C. Onley
Badge of the Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario.svg
Reference style
  • His Honour the Honourable
  • Son Honneur l'honorable
Spoken style
  • Your Honour
  • Votre Honneur

Titles and styles[edit]

  • June 12, 1950 – September 5, 2007: Mr. David C. Onley
  • September 5, 2007 – September 23, 2014: His Honour the Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
  • September 23, 2014 – present: The Honourable David C. Onley

Honours and awards[edit]

Country Award or order Class or position Year Citation
Flag of Canada.svg
Order of Canada Member 2016–present [17][18]
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Order of Ontario Chancellor 2007–2014
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Order of Ontario Member 2014–present
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Order of St John Vice-Prior of the Order of St. John in Ontario (2007–2014), Knight of Justice of the Order 2007–present [19]
Country Organization Award or position Year Citation
Flag of Canada.svg
Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons King Clancy Award 1992 [20]
Flag of Canada.svg
Scarborough Women Teachers Association Award for Broadcasting Excellence 1992 [21]
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Clarke Institute Courage to Come Back Award 1996 [6]
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Terry Fox Hall of Fame Inductee 1997–present [6]
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University of Toronto Positive Impact Award 2001 [21]
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City of Scarborough Scarborough Walk of Fame Inductee 2006–present [6]
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Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic High School National Leadership Award 2009 [22]
Academic honours
Country Organization Award or position Year Citation
Flag of Canada.svg
Canada Christian College Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) date unknown [23]
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Centennial College Honorary Fellow 2003–present [21]
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University of Guelph-Humber Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) 2008 [21]
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University of Windsor Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) 2008 [21]
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University of Western Ontario Doctor of Laws (jure dignitatis) 2008 [21][24]
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Nipissing University Doctor of Education (honoris causa) 2009 [25][26]
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University of Toronto Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) 2009 [27][28]
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York University Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) 2009 [29]
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Carleton University Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) 2011 [30]
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Law Society of Upper Canada Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) 2013 [31]

Ribbon bar[edit]

Order of Canada (CM) ribbon bar.png Order of St John (UK) ribbon.png
Order Ontario ribbon bar.svg Canada125 ribbon.png QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.png

Ribbon Description Date Notes
Order of Canada (CM) ribbon bar.png Order of Canada 2016 Member (CM)
Order of St John (UK) ribbon.png Order of St. John 2007 Knight of Justice (KStJ)
Order Ontario ribbon bar.svg Order of Ontario 2007 Member (OOnt)
Canada125 ribbon.png 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal 1992
QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.png Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal 2012 Canadian version

Other distinctions[edit]

  • He served as Colonel of the Regiment of The Queen's York Rangers in his capacity of Lieutenant Governor.
  • He is the Honorary Colonel of 25 Field Ambulance in a personal capacity.
  • Midland has a David Onley Park, dedicated on his 63rd birthday (June 12, 2013).[32]


  • Shuttle: A Shattering Novel of Disaster in Space (1981) ISBN 0-89083-951-4 (book), ISBN 0-88646-826-4 (audio edition)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mackey, Lloyd (12 July 2007). "The Emergence of David Onley". CanadianChristianity. Retrieved 2008-07-11.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "Lieutenant Governor welcomes Lieutenant Governor-designate David Onley". Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. 10 July 2007. Retrieved 2008-03-14.[dead link]
  3. ^ "The Honourable David C. Onley, O.Ont". Queen's Printer for Ontario. September 2007. Archived from the original on 2008-07-04. Retrieved 2007-09-15.
  4. ^ a b David Onley Appointed Next Lt.-Gov. Of Ontario Archived 2007-07-12 at the Wayback Machine., www.citynews.ca, June 10, 2007
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-08-05. Retrieved 2014-07-28.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Prime Minister announces appointment of David C. Onley as Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario" (Press release). Canadian Prime Minister's Office. 2007-07-10. Archived from the original on 2007-07-14. Retrieved 2007-07-13.
  7. ^ Oliveria, Michael; Toronto Star: Onley vows focus on access; September 5, 2007
  8. ^ "David Onley: A Success Story"
  9. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-07-30. Retrieved 2007-07-18.
  10. ^ "Ontario Lt.-Gov. David Onley films cameo for CBC drama 'Murdoch Mysteries'". WinnipegFreePress.com. Retrieved July 13, 2012.
  11. ^ Editorial; Toronto Star: Vice-regal role model; September 6, 2007
  12. ^ "Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada" (Press release). Queen's Printer for Canada. 26 August 2008. Archived from the original on 9 March 2010. Retrieved 8 March 2010.
  13. ^ Henderson, Hellen; Toronto Star: Incoming lieutenant-governor plans to smooth path for all; September 3, 2007
  14. ^ "End of mandate report". Lieutenant Governor of Ontario web site. September 17, 2014. Archived from the original on January 9, 2016. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  15. ^ "Ontario's 28th Lt. Governor David Onley joins UTSC faculty". University of Toronto. September 25, 2014.
  16. ^ Ruth Ann Onley Archived December 23, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ "Order of Canada's newest appointees include Paralympian, Supreme Court judge and astrophysicist". CBC News, December 30, 2016.
  18. ^ Order of Canada citation
  19. ^ Canada Gazette
  20. ^ City News: David Onley Archived 2007-09-19 at the Wayback Machine.
  21. ^ a b c d e f Lieutenant Governor of Ontario: Honours Archived 2008-10-06 at the Wayback Machine.
  22. ^ Guelph Mercury. Fight for Equality: Our lady of Lourdes Catholic High School Honours province's Lieutenant Governor. http://news.guelphmercury.com/article/442015[permanent dead link] . Accessed 2 March 2009
  23. ^ Canada Christian College
  24. ^ http://www.uwo.ca/univsec/pdf/senate/honorary/honorary_degrees_by_year.pdf
  25. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-04-03. Retrieved 2013-07-16.
  26. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients | Nipissing University". Nipissingu.ca. Retrieved 2017-11-20.
  27. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients". Convocation.utoronto.ca. Retrieved 2017-11-20.
  28. ^ http://www.governingcouncil.utoronto.ca/Assets/Governing+Council+Digital+Assets/Boards+and+Committees/Committee+for+Honorary+Degrees/degreerecipients1850tillnow.pdf
  29. ^ Current Students. "Senate | University Secretariat". Yorku.ca. Retrieved 2017-11-20.
  30. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-08-14. Retrieved 2012-10-16.
  31. ^ "Honorary LLD | The Law Society of Upper Canada". Lsuc.on.ca. Retrieved 2017-11-20.
  32. ^ http://www.simcoe.com/news-story/3839937-david-onley-park-officially-dedicated/

External links[edit]