Sports field named after North Preston community champion

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Sports field named after North Preston community champion

Allister Johnson said his dad, former municipal councillor Arnold D. Johnston, would have approved of a new sports field in North Preston being named after him because the decision was made by a vote.

"He believed in democracy and he believed in fairness and equality so he would have been pleased," said Johnson.

Dozens of people attended the grand opening of the sports field Saturday afternoon. The Arnold D. Johnston field's opening coincided with North Preston Days — an annual celebration of the community.

Who was Arnold D. Johnson?

According to municipal documents, Arnold D. Johnson was a veteran of the Second World War where he served as a radio operator and driver with the Canadian Army Field Headquarters in the campaign that liberated The Netherlands.

Johnson was also a prominent community member. He was active at his church and was a founding member of at least eight different community groups.

As municipal councillor, he served as a member of the Halifax County School Board and established the District 16 Volunteer Fire Department. Among other things, he was also responsible for establishing municipal water and sewage services in the area and adding more street lighting in his district. 

"Arnold Johnson, he came from that generation of men that can do everything, so a Jack-of-all-trades kind of fella," said Rosella Fraser, the facility manager at the North Preston Community Centre.

Construction of the field took about a year to complete. It's located on land owned by Halifax Water on the site where Allan W. Evans School once stood.

​"Dad wasn't heavy in sports, but what would have pleased him is not so much that it's a sports field, it's that it's a facility and infrastructure in the community, for the community. That's what would have pleased him the most," said Allister Johnson.

Fraser said the field will likely be put to good use by Nelson Whynder Elementary, a school located across the street.

"It never had a field, it didn't have any green space. Now they're very blessed, they can cross the street and now they have this wonder field here," Fraser said.

'It was a blessing'

Mark Johnson, another son of Arnold's, said a sports field in the community has been needed for a long time.

"We've been trying to do this a long time, not necessarily naming it after my dad. But we've been trying to do this, get a field up here, for years," Mark Johnson said, adding it wouldn't have been possible without community support.

That the field is named after his dad, he said, means a lot. When he found out the field would be named after his father, Mark John said he was amazed.

"It was a blessing," Mark Johnson said.

Community success story

"He'd be very proud today, he'd be smiling from ear to ear," Hendsbee said.

Darrell Samson, MP for Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook, said the field is a community success story. He said people in the area can now play soccer, flag football and rugby in a convenient place.

"This is so important that we bring people in our community rather than having to leave all the time," Samson said.

"If we have hobbies and we have to travel a half hour, it's a lot more difficult than when it's right there in your community. So this is an exciting opportunity for the young people, the seniors and all people really to enjoy."

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