Howard Thornton grew up in the small town of Bowness, Alberta (now part of Calgary). He studied Broadcasting at SAIT and for more than 25 years was a news, weather and current affairs presenter for CBC Television in Saskatchewan. He studied at the Canadian Theological Seminary in Regina, gaining an MA (Honours).
He and his family moved to the UK where he attended the University of Oxford, and was awarded an MA in Theology. He was a university chaplain, and received an honorary degree from the University of Bedfordshire for inter-faith work, and was vicar of two parishes in Oxford before returning to Canada in 2014. He and his wife Carol have five children and three grand-children.