In the mid-1980s, Douglas Johnson thought it was high time to publish his literary works that had leaked out over the past 20 years. His 400-page collection of 27 short stories and 40 poems, titled A passion for lifeis now available on Amazon.
His enthusiasm for writing is completely different from his professional activities.
“I was looking for the artistic side of myself and found it in writing, while working overseas,” Johnson said. All my life I had been involved in factual matters, chemistriestry and business. The other side only appeared later. Within these pages are stories of life, love, death, mystery and fantasy, drawn from nature, from my heart and from my mind.
Johnson earned an undergraduate and master’s degree in industrial chemistry in Scotland, before immigrating to Canada with his wife, Helen, in 1961.
“I worked for Dow Chemical for four years as a research chemist and developed some good processes that they commercialized,” he said. “After I got my MBA from Western University in 1971, I took the Canadian Securities Course and got a job at a brokerage. But I soon found out that they were there primarily to make money for themselves, not their clients, and I’m not that kind of guy. I like helping people.
Johnson went to work as a management consultant at Deloitte and spent time in Indonesia and the Philippines. He has volunteered with a non-governmental organization, advising small indigenous and international businesses for many years. Traveling to many countries around the world – Bulgaria, Slovakia, Afghanistan, Armenia, Sweden, Guyana – he developed his writing skills on people.
“My approach to life is that you have to challenge yourself and discover your skills,” he said.
He worked in Romania right after the 1989 revolution, when Nicolae Ceausescu, the country’s communist dictator, was shot.
“Russia was losing all of its satellite countries, and people were trying to figure out what was going on,” he said. Johnson. “A Romanian friend told me: ‘Now, when I see a policeman, I don’t back down, I can walk past him without fear.'”
Johnson wrote his first book years ago, titled We’ll get down to businesswhen he worked for the Canadian Executive Services organization internationally.
“When I was 80, they told me that I had to stop because they didn’t want to take out the necessary insurance in the event of death abroad. I just told them, “Well, if I die overseas, cremate me and send me a parcel post.”
He and Helen have two children and nine grandchildren. Johnson does a bit of baking these days and some woodworking at his home on Memorial Drive in Fenwick.
“I haven’t written for a while, due to an operation that left me a little listless and tired,” he said. “But I feel my energy returning and I can’t wait to do some gardening and spray the fruit trees, and get back to writing.”
“Wellington Boots” is a humorous short story in the book, one that is one of Johnson’s favorites. Another more serious inclusion is “Death of a Prince”, a retelling of the story of Prince George, Duke of Kent, who was the fourth son of King George V and Queen Mary. He served in the Royal Navy in the 1920s, and with the Royal Air Force in World War II, perishing in a military plane crash in August 1942. The Prince’s death marked the first time in over 450 years that a member of the royal family has died on active service.
“Sometimes I can just be sitting at the kitchen table, with the sun streaming in through the windows, and the warmth and light can inspire me to start writing,” Johnson said.