Dr. William Henry Johnston was born on the 15th of March, 1900 in Chatham. He was the eldest of 3 children born to Alexander Young Johnston and the former Alice Josephine Clements. His parents were farmers and his younger siblings were; Chester Alexander Johnston (1902-1972) and George Herbert Johnston (1904-1908). His brother George drowned on Christmas Eve in 1908, while playing with a sled on the ice on the Thames River.
Dr. Johnston attended a local Raleigh Township School S.S. #5 before going to Chatham to attend high school at the Chatham Collegiate Institute. Dr. Johnston went on to The University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine and graduated M.D. in 1929. He interned at St Mary’s Hospital in Detroit for 2 years. While there Dr. Johnston served as the Regatta Surgeon for the Detroit Yacht Club from 1929-1930. He moved to a general family medical practice in Chatham in 1930.
Dr. Johnston married Patricia Marie Collins, on the 18th of July, 1934 at St. Peters Cathedral Rectory in London, Ontario. At the time of their marriage, Dr. Johnston resided at 39 Richmond Street in Chatham. Mrs. Johnston was born in London on the 16th of April,1910. She was the 4th of 6 children born to Jeremiah Collins and the former Margaret Corrish. her siblings were; Simon Jerold Collins (who died at the age of 6 months), Hilda Agnes Collins, Marie Josephine “Ruth” Collins, Joseph Benedict Collins and George Spencer Collins. Her father was a hotel keeper and in 1921, the family resided at the Brunswick Hotel, which was located at 331 Talbot Street in London. The Brunswick Hotel was built in 1855 at the corner of Talbot Street and York Street. It was demolished in 2008 after a fire gutted the building. Prior to the fire, it had been designated as a heritage site. Mrs. Johnston trained as a nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chatham.
In 1943, Dr. Johnston was appointed as the Medical Officer of Health and he was named as a Kent County Coroner in 1963. Dr. Johnston was instrumental in vaccinating school children. In 1943, he received special permission from the Ontario Minister of Health, the Hon. Mr. Kelly to conduct a voluntary immunization program. Dr. Johnston’s office was located at 61 Victoria Ave. in Chatham. Dr. Johnston served as the Medical Officer of Health for 27 years until his retirement in 1970.
Dr. Johnston enjoyed bowling and golf in his spare time. He sponsored the teaching of ballet and examination by the Royal Academy of Ballet in the City of Chatham and elsewhere in Chatham-Kent.
Dr. Johnston died in Chatham on the 7th of March, 1973. He was buried in the St. Thomas Anglican Cemetery, near his parents at Dover Twp, in Chatham-Kent. Mrs. Johnston died at St Joseph’s Hospital in Chatham on the 3rd of January 1986. Her remains were buried at St Anthony’s Cemetery in Chatham.