He’s worn many hats over the years: author, advocate, weatherman, television host and more recently, Ontario’s lieutenant-governor. But on Friday, it was time for our nation to tip its hat to David Onley.
During a morning ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Onley became one of 31 new members inducted into the Order of Canada. One companion and 13 officers were also bestowed with the honour — the highest of its kind for civilians.
Onley spent more than two decades at Citytv, where he shared his vast knowledge with viewers as a science and technology specialist.
A survivor of childhood polio, he was also the first newscaster in Canada with a visible disability.
“Throughout his career, he has advanced the public’s understanding of people with disabilities, particularly during his tenure as Ontario’s lieutenant-governor, where he made inclusion and accessibility the overarching themes of his mandate,” the governor-general’s office said in a release.
Onley left the news world to become Ontario’s 28th lieutenant-governor in September 2007. He held the position until 2014.
“I am Ontario’s first lieutenant-governor with a physical disability,” he during a speech at his swearing-in ceremony.
“There are far too many people suffering from mental health challenges, poverty, ill health that the mainstream world is just as inaccessible for them as it is for physically disabled people. While we seek to improve physical access, we must not presume that disability is only represented by a white wheelchair symbol on a blue sign. My commitment to accessibility includes all disabilities, not just the visible ones.”
Facts about David Onley:
- He survived polio as a child.
- He earned a degree in political science at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus, where he also became student council president in the 1970s and discovered his love of college radio.
- He published his first book, the space-travel novel “Shuttle” in 1981.
- He was hired to contribute a weekly piece called “A Step Ahead” on a nationally syndicated radio show called “Sunday Sunday” out of CFTR in the early ’80s. He later worked at CFRB and CKO.
- He joined Citytv in 1984 as a weather specialist.
- In 1989, he became the first morning anchor of Breakfast Television.
- He later became Citytv’s education specialist and then science and technology specialist.
- He hosted the computer and internet show “Home Page.”
- He became Ontario’s lieutenant-governor in 2007, holding the position for seven years.
- Onley is married to Ruth Ann and has three sons.