Alton V. Johnston was born in St. Thomas, Ontario on July 31, 1909. He began working at the Bridge and Building (B&B) Department of the Canadian National Railway in St. Thomas in 1927. He then attended Queen’s University, and returned to St. Thomas to become the Bridge and Building superintendent in St. Thomas.
In 1955, he was appointed the Chief Engineer of CNR based in Montreal. There, here helped organize the International Consulting Division of the Canadian National Railway in 1971. He was later appointed as President and Chief Executive Officer of CANAC Consultants, the leading provider of engineering, rail operation, technology and training and safety for the North American passenger rail industry.
He also served as the President of the American Railway Engineering Association (AREA.) He retired from the rails to St. Thomas in 1975. Mr. Johnston died four years later on August 15, 1979, at 70 years of age.