Robert Steadward was the first International Paralympic Committee President ©Getty Images

Robert Steadward, one of the founding members of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and its first President, has been promoted to Companion of the Order of Canada.

Canada's Governor General Julie Payette has made 61 appointments to the Order of Canada to mark the new year, and Steadward is the only person given the Companion of the Order of Canada title - the Order's highest.

Steadward served as IPC President from 1989 to 2001, which included signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Olympic Committee in 2000 which ensured the same city would host the Olympics and Paralympics moving forward.

He has also held various roles within the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC), including President and Chef de Mission, and is in the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame.

A member of both the Paralympic Order and Olympic Order, Steadward had been appointed to the Officer of the Order of Canada title in 1999.

Steadward was promoted to Companion for "his lifelong dedication to propelling the Paralympic movement forward on a global scale", according to the formal announcement from the Governor General.

Earlier this year, the 74-year-old was appointed to the Paralympic Foundation of Canada Honorary Board.

Chantal Petitclerc, a fellow Honorary Board member and one of the most successful Para-athletes ever, having competed at five Paralympic Games from Barcelona 1992 to Beijing 2008 and won 21 medals - including 14 gold - in wheelchair racing, was among those to congratulate Steadward on social media.

Olympic swimming champion Mark Tewksbury, the University of Alberta and Catherine Gosselin-Després, executive director of sport at the CPC, also offered congratulations.