William Wallace “Wally” Johnston

Section P, Lot 532
York Cemetery

Wally Johnston did extensive research on the vitamin A content of fish liver oil. Yuck! you might well say, but it is thanks to Wally Johnston that millions of Canadian and Commonwealth children found it a little easier to swallow than their parents did. While he could do nothing to make fish liver oil taste good, he spent years working to deodorize it. Born in Walkerton, Wally Johnston graduated from Walkerton High School then acquired a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Toronto in 1928. While working towards his doctorate, Johnston spent his summers at the federal fisheries research station in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and took a full-time job with them upon completing his doctorate in 1934. Johnston was a captain in the Princess Louise Fusiliers and served briefly on the eastern seaboard following the outbreak of World War II. However, when imports of fish liver oil from Sweden and Norway to the United States, Canada and other British Commonwealth countries were halted by German submarine attacks in the Atlantic, he was quickly ordered back to the lab. His work as a biochemist was deemed far more valuable than anything else he might do. In 1941, having completed his project, Johnston moved to Halifax as chief biochemist at a meat packing plant. He continued to work as an industrial biochemist after the war until 1955, when he took a post as head of the chemistry department of Streetsville High School. Wally Johnston, the man who took the smell out of fish liver oil, died in April, 1990 at the age of 84.