JOHNSTON is a surname with roots in Scotland. The primary focus of this site, however, are instances of the surname in the Province of Ulster, now in Northern Ireland. Featured is an ongoing study of the descendants and other relations of Samuel JOHNSTON and his wife Isabella BURNS. Samuel and Isabella were married in Belfast, Ireland, in 1837.

William Thomas Alexander JOHNSTON was born in Belfast, Ireland, on 18 March 1867, the son of John & Elizabeth [nee ORR] JOHNSTON. He emigrated to Canada with his parents in about 1870, and lived with his parents initially in Montreal, Quebec, then in Cornwall, Ontario, and later in Ottawa. His mother died of consumption in Ottawa in 1889. A short while later William was in Toronto, and there he married Annie Louisa JEUNE, the daughter of Edmund & Martha Jane [nee ALLEN] JEUNE.

johnston william thomas alexander w 2 unidentified women toronto ao img094This photograph, taken at the Dame Studio at 330½ Yonge Street in Toronto, shows William Thomas Alexander Johnston with 2 unidentified women (who were more than likely sisters, but just which ones is not presently known).

At least five children were born in Toronto before Annie Louisa died there in 1905. The children were Minnie Louise, 1892; William Aubrey Arthur, 1895; Thomas Stewart, 1899; Martha Gladys Helena, 1901; and John James 'Jack', in 1905.

At least one 'personal family tree' found on <> - the 'Mills/Falconer Family Tree', suggests that there was a sixth child - a girl named Selina, who was born in about 1903. No evidence of the birth or death of such a child has been found in Ontario birth and death registration records, however. And there certainly was no child so named listed as a member of William's household according the a 1911 Census of Canada schedule (by which time William had been married to his second wife - Naomi Ruth GRAHAM, for about a year and a half).  The Might's Directories for the City of Toronto for 1902 (Page 636; Wm T Johnston) and 1903 (Page 555) show that William and Annie Louise were living at 674 Parliament Street, from which address he also apparently ran his express delivery service.


John JOHNSTON and Elizabeth ORR were married in Belfast, Ireland, in 1864. By 1871 they had migrated to Canada, living initially in Montreal, Quebec, then in Cornwall, Ontario. By 1890 they were in Ottawa, Ontario, where Elizabeth died. The family moved to the Toronto, Ontario, area by 1894.

johnston john 1842 1916 by philbric of toledo bm


No photograph has yet been found which portrays Elizabeth [nee Orr] Johnston. The above photo shows John Johnston as he probably appeared in the 1890-1894 period. Facts found at suggest that the photographers James Arthur and [first name unknown] Philbric had a studio at 159 Summit Street in Toledo, Ohio, between 1890 and 1894. John's older brother Robert lived in Toledo in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, so it would seem plausible that John might have visited for a while after his wife died.

John Johnston himself died on 19 Nov 1916, while residing in the Toronto Free Hospital for Consumptives in Weston, Ontario, just west of the then City of Toronto, and east of Weston. The death registration (Office of the Registrar General for Ontario: York County, No 039664; Volume 1916-31, Page 657; Archives of Ontario MS 935 Reel 227) compiled in his name was completed by N A CRAIG of 1255 Queen St West. Disappointingly, Craig did not apparently know John's father's name, and reported only that his mother's maiden surname sas 'Burns'. Craig correctly reported that John was 'Widowed', and that he was a 74 year old native of Ireland. The Might's Directory for the City of Toronto that was published in 1916 (Streets section, Page 366)  shows that Norman A Craig was an undertaker whose premises were located at 1255 Queen St. West, so it's not surprising that he knew very little about John's origins. 

An interment register from Toronto's Prospect Cemetery (located in the west end) shows that John Johnston's remains were interred there on the 21st of Nov 1916 (see No 16905, Folio 82, Volume 2 (1914-1921). Edward Albert Johnston (John's second son) owned the plot in which John was buried - a single grave in Section 17, Lot 4437. But, a short time later, on 22 May 1920, John's remains were moved to Section 17, Lot 273. The interment register contains no remarks as to why the remains might have been moved, unfortunately.

Samuel JOHNSTON and Isabella BURNS were married in Belfast, Ireland, in 1837. Four children are known to have survived to adulthood. Isabella died in Belfast in [1890 ?]. Samuel was in Toledo, Ohio, by late 1900 or early 1901, presumably living within his oldest son Robert's household there. Samuel died in Toledo in 1901.

Their children were:

  • Robert Johnston, married to Elizabeth SUMMERSKILL
  • John Johnston, marrried to Elizabeth ORR
  • xxxxxxxx
  • xxxxxxxx

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