These photos came from a photo album of the John Johnston Family. Fortunately we know the names, dates and some background history of this family. This is not always the case as most photos come to us lacking this very basic information.

John Johnston was born in Elizabethtown Township to Patrick Johnston (abt 1822-1892) and Louisa Bell Knox (1823-1911). John’s parents were immigrants from Antrim, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Patrick and Louisa met each other here in Upper Canada, married and raised a family of 9 children. There were 6 boys and 3 girls. John was the youngest of the family. Patrick and Louisa raised their family in a small log house just west of  Elizabethtown, that is now Brockville, near Grant’s Creek.

John was a stone mason by trade, working at the Cemetery Works and later on his own as a contractor. Some of his work can still be seen in and around the Lyn and Brockville area. In 1887 John bought a small 75 acre farm located on the Lyn Road, onto which he moved with his parents Patrick and Louisa. In 1891 John married Lilly Bell Patterson who was at the time working at the Ontario Glove Works in Brockville. Lilly Bell was orphaned at a very early age, and raised by her grandparents Thomas Haffie (1813-1891) and Jane Manary (1823-1899) in Mallorytown.

John and his new bride Lilly would spend the rest of their lives living and raising their family in the house that John had purchased on the Lyn Road. They raised four daughters in that house. The oldest Edith was born in 1892 and the youngest Irene was born in 1908.

John would farm his land, raising cows for milk, chickens for their eggs, and had a vegetable garden that his wife looked after.  He used this to supplement his income working as a stone mason. Lilly Bell would take her eggs and butter into Brockville to sell or trade at the local grocery stores, as was customary in that time.

During their life they lived through two World Wars and the Great Depression. They would see the arrival of electricity and with it eventually came the radio. They would go from horse drawn carriages to the automobile; they would see the decline of the Village of Lyn and the growth of the Town of Brockville, as it prospered along the banks of the St. Lawrence River.

John was born in 1866 and died  in 1950. His wife Lilly Belle was born in 1869 and died in 1946.

Here now are the photos that we have of this family as they grew and lived their lives. A brief rare glimpse into their family history.


Patrick Johnston abt 1822-1892 born in Antrim, Belfast
Louisa Bell Knox 1823-1911 born in Antrim, Belfast















John purchased this house in 1887. He added a front porch and back kitchen and woodshed.

Back of house with summer kitchen and wood shed added




Front of house before the porch was added
Mortgage on the farm house and property dated Sept 30th, 1887


Johnston Home c1935


Wedding photo of Lilly Bell and John Johnston taken in 1891


Lilly Bell and her mother Jane Patterson (nee Haffie), her father had passed away when this tintype was taken, and her mother would die soon afterwards.
Lilly Bell Patterson taken around 1879 at age 10













L. deCarle Cemetery Works located on Hwy 2 east of the old Protestant Cemetery. John is the tall man in the centre of the photo


John in later years working as a Stone Mason
John Johnston, Stone Mason












The Ontario Glove Works in 1893, located at the foot of Broad Street, Brockville, where Lilly worked


John clearing his land late 1800’s. The small boy is unknown
John clearing his land in the late 1800’s. The small boy next to him is unknown








The Johnston Family abt. 1900. L-R standing Edith and Florence, seated Gertrude and their mother Lilly Bell


Lilly and her youngest daughter Irene photo taken in 1910
Irene Johnston abt 1914












Irene attended the Rock School located on Hwy No. 2 just west of the Cemetery. This photo was taken around 1921
Irene circled in red









Edith Johnston, the oldest of the four sisters (1892-1979) studied nursing and moved to New York City
Gertrude Johnston (1894-1938) became a nurse and practiced in Montreal












Florence Johnston (1896-1994) married and lived her entire life in Brockville


Irene Johnston (1908-1998) the youngest moved to New York City to live with her sister Edith and went to Secretarial School












In this photo, Edith was married and her son Jack is the boy in this photo. L-R Gertrude, Edith, Jack and Irene


L-R Edith, Gertrude, Florence, Irene and Edith’s son Jack


Edith’s husband Valentine V. Bourke, M.D. (1885-1968) served in WW I in the Army Medical Corp. After the war he practiced medicine in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn.
Gertrude’s husband Andrew Salomnson (1887-1934) born in Sweden, immigrated to Canada, served in the Canadian Armed Forces in WW I. He was gassed and died from this in 1934.















Florence (1896-1994) married Horace Fairbourn (1899-1989) and had three children L-R Jack, Gertrude and Jean. Horace worked as the CPR Agent in Brockville


Irene (1908-1998) the youngest married Joe an accountant in 1934 and lived in Brooklyn, NY close to her sister Edith.
John farming next to the CNR tracks in Elizabethtown, Ontario
John Johnston standing next to his team of horses









Thrashing Wheat on the Johnston farm
Thrashing wheat on the Johnston Farm









Lilly in her later years feeding her chickens


One of John’s horses next to his barn
Another of John’s horses next to his barn


Irene’s husband Joe with two of John’s horses
Florence’s daughter Gertrude with one of John’s cows
John’s additional barns located just north of the CNR tracks








John Johnston in the middle with his two sons-in-law, Horace (Left) and Joe (right)


The Johnston Family L-R: Gertrude, Edith, John, Lilly, Irene, Florence, Horace and standing in front is Edith’s son Jack Bourke

Lilly and John in their later years:

Lilly and her daughter Irene
Lilly Bell Johnston
Lilly Bell Johnston



John and Lilly Johnston
John and Lilly Johnston













In 1941 John and Lilly celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary



John and Lilly are buried in Oakland Cemetery, just west of Brockville.





9 thoughts on “The John Johnston Family

  1. these photos are amazing, I have a goodly number of them in my own collection but others I have not seen before. They are a wonderful collection of ancestors photos. John Johnston was an uncle to my Grandmother Hariette Maude Johnston her twin brother Harold and many other siblings.

    • Hi Sue
      I just spoke with John Mack’s wife (I’ve lost her name)

      She suggested I contact you for info.

      My Name is Charles Edward Johnston
      My father by the same name was a son of Clifford Johnston (Son of Willian Johnston & Sarah Collins).

      I’ve just started my Genealogy search, she suggested you may be of help.

      My Dad’s family moved to Cobourg I’m guessing in the early 1900’s. I now live in Renfrew.

      And stay safe.
      Chuck Johnston

  2. My mother’s memories of her Uncle Johnnie and aunt Lil were that they were the kindest people she’d ever known . Their youngest daughter Irene was a playmate cousin to her. My mum was Doris Irene Johnston , daughter of CE Johnston ,Brockville. Charlie was the son of William Johnston ( John’s oldest brother)
    How wonderful to see these photos ! Pictures do tell a thousand words.

    • Thanks for your comments, glad you enjoyed the story. You might also want to check our on our website “Patrick Johnston & Louise Knox – Our People, Our Heritage”

  3. Hi Chuck , it’s a good time to do some geneology research during the shutdown eh?
    I heard my mother Doris , ( Charlie Johnston’s daughter, ) mention her Uncle Clifford many times , as she tried to remember her Dad’s siblings . He worked for the railroad , didn’t he? Who knew I had a cousin living in Renfrew? Surprise! I live in Pembroke . Once we Johnston descendants settle in somewhere , it’s a commitment . Haha.
    Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you want. We probably have lots to share and figure out possibly.

    • Well, Button, its been a long time. How have you been ? Its your cousin Bob ( CE was our grandfather, RL was my dad). My wife Judy and I moved to BC in 1976 and still live in this beautiful province. We have two adopted daughters.
      Funny how the internet keeps creating links to these old connections. I hope Sue, John and Barb are all well. Laird lives at his lakefront home in Calabogie Ontario while the rest of the family, Sue and Sandy and Steve live in Ottawa.
      Drop me a line when you get time

      • Good Grief Bobby ! What a wonderful surprise!!! Last time I saw you was when you were wearing your leather hippie hat and a guitar on your back ,outside Mum’s house in Toronto , before you and your love set out for BC . I remember
        I have so many happy memories of goofing around at the summer cottages with you. Barb & I loved being with you , as pesky as we might have been . Lots of laughs , fun and adventure ….. love you still …❤️…wouldn’t it be nice to catch up the last 50 years ? Email me if you have “retired time”
        BTW.. you can still address me as But , like John does, ( Button is way too formal)

      • Good Grief Bobby ! What a wonderful surprise!!! Last time I saw you was in front of Mum’s house in Toronto . I think you were heading west then . Email me when you have (retired? ) time like me.

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