Stand and Deliver

Dan Allen Recognized With 
The Province’s Highest Honour

Story by Matthew St. Amand

The Order of Ontario is the province’s highest civilian honour, bestowed upon Ontarians who demonstrate the highest level of excellence and achievement in their field. In October 2022, LaSalle resident, Dan Allen, was among twenty-five appointees to the 2020 Order. It was the culmination of a professional life spent in the service of others.

Dan’s life has been guided by a simple mantra: “Take every opportunity to do something different,” he says. “You meet new people. It helps you create a network. Some relationships last a long time. You never know where your contacts will end up. Your paths may intersect at any time in the future.” 

In a world that is often afraid of failure, this simple approach is not so simple. 

“I don’t call it failure when things don’t work out,” Dan continues. “I call it learning.” 

Beyond personal philosophy, Dan reveals another secret to his success: “My wife, Pam, supports me in everything I do. We have moved several times. We have been apart when I was doing work in another part of the country.” 

Dan has worked in government since 1972, starting with the federal government as a file clerk earning $2.76 an hour, and ending his career in the Executive category. 

“In the federal government, there are different levels,” he says. “Any opportunity to move that came my way, no matter the job, I took it. You learn something new in every opportunity. If the move didn’t pan out the way I thought it would, I moved to the next opportunity. You keep going. You deliver. You prepare yourself and take risks. You learn to pick yourself up and keep going.” 

Daniel Allen, appointee to the Order of Ontario. Photo by Rick Chard.

Dan grew up in west Windsor, attending Marlborough Public School and then John L. Forster Secondary School, before moving on to the University of Windsor. 

After serving in World War II, Dan’s father returned home to start his family, but passed away before the age of forty. He left his wife with four children under the age of eight. 

“No one messed with her,” Dan says of his mother, Alice Anna Allen. “And no one messed with us. My mother knew our teachers and had deep roots in the community. She knew we weren’t perfect, but she never let us be treated unfairly.” 

Alice’s four children grew up and each made their mark in the world in their own way. 

“When I was elected to Windsor City Council in 1994, my mother was there,” Dan remembers. “The media interviewed her, and someone said: ‘Mrs. Allen, you must be really proud of your son, Dan!’ To which she replied: ‘I’m proud of all of my children!’” 

She worked at Revenue Canada until the mandatory retirement age of sixty-five. She lived into her ninetieth year, and saw her children establish themselves as indispensable members of their communities.

Dan is neither quick nor verbose in describing his professional successes. One of his many notable accomplishments occurred in 1980 when he worked on assignment for Citizenship and Immigration, helping to settle refugees in Canada who were escaping Southeast Asia following the war in Vietnam. 

“I was in Edmonton, part of a team coordinating their arrival,” Dan explains. “I remember being out by the runway, waiting for planes at four o’clock in the morning in minus forty-degree weather, and seeing those people arriving in shirts, pants and sandals. We welcomed them and processed their landing documents, personal needs and destinations to various parts of the country.” 

Displayed in Dan’s study at home are two beautifully painted portraits: one of him-self as he looked in 1980, and one of his mother. 

“One of the arrivals was an artist and he painted these for me,” Dan says.

Another of his many professional “wins” occurred in the early 2000s.

“While I was with Human Resources Development Canada in Ontario, and later at National Headquarters, one of my portfolios was Employment Equity and Diversity,” he recalls.  

Pamela Allen, John McVean, Beth Allen (the Honourable Madam Justice, Ontario Superior Court), Elizabeth Dowdeswell, (Lieutenant Governor of Ontario), Daniel Allen, OOnt, Jordynn Gloster, James Allen. Photo courtesy of James Allen.

This work gave Dan the opportunity to influence positive change in the public service for the hiring and employment of visible minorities, aboriginals, and persons with disabilities. Dan managed a selection process designed to address employment gaps with respect to designated groups at the executive level in the federal public service. The initiative resulted in the placement of fourteen designated group members into executive level positions. During Public Service Week 2003, the President of the Treasury Board presented Dan with the Equity Diversity Award. Dan was lauded by his colleagues and superiors for his contributions to this very important issue. He continued working toward achieving and maintaining a representative workforce in the public service while with Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Every step of the way, Dan created consensus among top officials, asking for and receiving $1.5 million to fund the process. No easy feat.

Dan has remained committed to the community since retiring in 2006. Today, he is active in the St. Clair College athletic department. 

“The main thing I do there is work with the young people as a life coach,” Dan says. “We have a bond with these young people. Many of them are from elsewhere in Ontario, as well as the U.S., England, Israel. When I connect with their parents, I tell them: ‘We’ve got your child! They are in good hands at St Clair College.’”

Dan’s appointment to the Order of Ontario is but one of his many accolades. He uses little breath to speak of them but conveys an intense feeling of gratitude to those who nominated him and to those who endorsed his nomination. He measures success in ways most everyone else measures it. He is intensely proud of his son, James, his daughter-in-law, Jordynn, and his two grandsons Gavin and Nathan. 

During his conversation with Windsor Life Magazine, Pam reminded Dan of an event he attended, years ago, in Toronto.

“Jean Chrétien was the guest speaker,” Dan says. “When he was asked: ‘How do you become successful and move forward in organizations?’ he said: ‘You gotta do the work!’”

And Dan holds to that: “If you’re going to succeed, you gotta do the work!” 


  • Good morning Dan good morning Pam truly a moving and wonderful article. We are blessed to call your friend‘s.S
    Congratulations again Dan,, our city our province our country are truly blessed to have you as a citizen And yes, you do the work!!! to make this a better world. Love you, Tom and Mary Lou O’BRIEN.

  • What a wonderful story! I too,went to Marlborough School, Forster Collegiate and University of Windsor.
    Infact I believe your Mother,Alice worked with my Mother ,Kay Lynds , on the executive of the Marlborough Home and School Association. I have lived on Windsor all my life and taught for the Windsor Board of Education for many years.