Goodwin Gothard Johnson was born in Olso, Norway on September 22, 1876, the son of John J. and Mary Myra Johnson, both of Olso. His family immigrated to Wisconsin in the United States, where Goodwin received his formal education. He began his career in the lumber business with James D. Lacey and Company in Chicago, where he worked from 1906 to 1917. He married Elyne E. Walin of Nebraska on July 25, 1911. They had one son, Goodwin Walin, and one daughter, Caroline Louise.
In 1917, Goodwin Johnson became Managing Director of the Capilano Timber Company, a position he held until his resignation in 1930. During this time he was active in professional associations, serving as President of the B.C. Loggers Association from 1921 to 1923, and President of the British Columbia Shingle Manufacturers Association from 1928 to 1930. He also served as Director and Member of the Executive Board of Seaboard Sales, and Seaboard Shipping Company Limited.
After leaving Capilano Timber Company he formed his own import and export company - Goodwin Johnson Limited in Vancouver, and Goodwin Johnson Inc., in the United States. His Vancouver office was in the Metropolitan Building. An avid golfer, he was a member of the Capilano Golf and Country Club in West Vancouver, and Washington Athletic Club in Seattle. Goodwin Gothard Johnson died in Vancouver on April 7, 1962 at the age of 85.