John Downing

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For other uses, see John Downing (disambiguation).
John Henry Downing
President, Canadian National Exhibition
In office
October, 1999 – October, 2001
Preceded by Robert Bowman
Succeeded by Debra Woodman
Personal details
Born (1936-06-10) June 10, 1936 (age 80)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Spouse(s) Mary Horvat (1962-present)
Children 3; John Henry III, Brett D., Mark
Alma mater Ryerson (Bachelor of Applied Arts 1972)
Religion Baptist

John Downing (born 1936) is an author, reporter, editor and columnist, most notably writing for the Toronto Telegram and later the Toronto Sun.

Life and career[edit]

John Henry Downing, Junior, was born June 10, 1936 in Toronto, Ontario, to J. H. Downing, an east-end doctor who chaired the Toronto Board of Education in 1938, and to Lena, a Toronto Bible College graduate as a medical missionary. He was orphaned at 5 and raised by relatives. He married Mary Horvat of Hamilton in 1961. They have three sons, John Henry III of Aliso Viejo, California; Brett, of Etobicoke; and Mark, of Dalian, China. There are four grandsons.


He graduated from Weston Collegiate in 1955 and received his journalism diploma from Ryerson Institute of Technology (now Ryerson University) in 1958. He was an editor on the Ryersonian newspaper and SAC president. In 1972 he received a Bachelor of Applied Arts from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute. He studied environmental science and urban geography at University of Toronto. He authored the official Ryerson history in 1975 and served on board committees, presidential and journalism search committees, and task forces revising the Ryerson University Act and photography courses. He served on advisory journalism committees at Ryerson and Humber College, and lectured.


He was editor of the Whitehorse Star in 1957, and reporter and editor on the Toronto Telegram from 1958 to 1971. He was a "Day Oner"[1][2] of the Toronto Sun first as a daily columnist and then as the Editor from 1985 to 1997.

Professional Associations[edit]

Canadian National Exhibition 2012 Entrance.jpg

John Downing has been president of the Canadian National Exhibition,[3] Toronto Press Club and Press Clubs of Canada, and director and governor of the Toronto Outdoor Art Show, Runnymede Health Care Centre,[4] Exhibition Place, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority,[5] Ontario Safety League, Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, and Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.

He has eight writing awards from the Toronto Police Association, three writing awards in safety, St. John's Ambulance Priory Honor, Centennial Medal from the Governor General of Canada, and service medal from Toronto City Council for chairing advisory committees.

President of the Toronto Press Club in 1973 and in 1974, he was president of the Association of Canadian Press Clubs and made the Michener Award presentation to Governor General Jules Leger. From 1990 to 1993, he was involved with the first years of the Canadian Journalism Foundation. He was chair from 1992 to 1996 of the Canadian delegation to the world’s oldest media forum, the International Press Institute, where senior journalists from more than 60 countries fight censorship through conferences and publications


John Downing was a director of the Metro Citizens’ Safety Council and originator of the motion that the council buy equipment for the Metro Police in a pilot project called Reduce Impaired Driving in Etobicoke. This program expanded through the council into Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere, the first of the annual RIDE programs. He campaigned for child safety seats and received four Ontario Safety League writing awards from 1983 to 1986. He became an OSL director and received its Distinguished Service Award in 2009. He raised money for a new ambulance for St. John Ambulance and in 1983 received the St. John Priory Award from Governor General Ed Schreyer.

He has written chapters for books on the CNE and Toronto politics, two political biographies, and articles for Time, Macleans and other publications. He appeared on the CBC, CityTV, the Global Television Network, CFTR (AM) and CFRB.

Downing has been credited with popularizing the term "Red Rocket" for the Toronto Transit Corporation's (TTC) streetcars.[6]



  • 1957 - Downing joins Whitehorse Star as Editor
  • 1958 - Downing joins the Toronto Telegram first as Reporter then City Editor and Managing Editor
  • 1971 - Downing joins the Toronto Sun as a columnist
  • 1985 - Downing becomes Toronto Sun Editor
  • 1999 - Downing becomes President of Canadian National Exhibition Association



  1. ^ "Brothers and Sisters Always: The Sun's Day Oners...". Toronto Sun. 2008-08-28. 
  2. ^ "5,000 Columns later: Sun's birth like a family birthday". Toronto Sun. 2008-08-28. 
  3. ^ "Board of Directors". The Ex. 2009. 
  4. ^ "Board of Directors and Annual Members of the Corporation 2009-2010". Runnymede Healthcare Centre. 
  5. ^ "TCRA Honour Roll Awards". Toronto and Region Conservation. 1986. 
  6. ^ "FAQ - Streetcars". Transit Toronto. 2008. 

External links[edit]