I have traced this family back to:

Neil Ferguson married to Salena Currie, their children were:

  Euphemia born abt 1781, died July 6, 1875 at age 95 in Balinaby, Kilchoman, Isle of Islay, Scotland
  James born abt 1786, died Apr 7, 1871 at age of 85 in Gruinard, Kilchoman, Islay

        Euphemia married John Maclean who was born abt 1776, children were:
            Mary or Agnes, born abt 1805
            Neil, born abt 1823
            Archibald, born abt 1826
            Donald, born abt 1833

            Mary or Agnes bore a son by John Johnston:
                John Johnston, born Jan 12, 1833, Glasgow, Lanark, died Aug 18, 1906, Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada

Family stories have young John Johnston's father dying in a fishing accident and left a widow, Agnes or Mary Maclean, who remarried leaving the young John to be raised by her mother, Euphemia Ferguson Maclean on the Isle of Islay.

The 1841 census shows a 7 year old John Johnson living in Corsabell, Kilchoman on the Isle of Islay.  Also in the household were John Maclean, 65 years old, hand loom weaver, Euphemia Maclean, 60 years old and Donald Maclean, 14 years old.  All were listed to being born in Argyllshire.  

In the 1851 census the family resided in Smaul, Kilchoman.  Euphemia is listed as 70 years old, born in Kilchoman, and John Johnson is listed as 18 years old, grandson, an agricultural labourer born in Lanark, Glasgow.  


The photo above was brought over to Canada around 1856 by John Johnston (believed to be the man on the left with the "x" over his head).  I don't know who the man on the right is (with the "x" over his head), but I believe that a relative in Canada marked the photo.  The photo may have been taken on the Island of Islay, Scotland or around Glasgow or Greenock and shows what looks like a church and hills in the background.  Since the only women in this picture are children, we speculate that this may be a photo from a funeral.  I have been told that women were not allowed to attend funerals.  The other men may be his brothers or uncles. 

back of Islay photo.jpg (68917 bytes)

Click on the thumbnail above to see writing on back of photo: "Believed to be the McLeans and Fergusons family of John Johnston on the Island of Islay, Scotland".   A decendent of John Johnston is believed to have written this on the back of the photo. Photo is an albumen print, very thin paper mounted on board, yellowed, rounded corners, photo size is 5 3/4" x  4 " board size is 6 3/8" x 4 1/8", about .9mm thick.

John Johnston was said to travel by whaling ship with a man named "Currie".   The Alberta, Canada Census of 1906 states he emigrated in 1856.  The family story handed down has John staying with an aunt in Greenock before sailing to Canada, a six week voyage, with companions Peter and Margaret Currie with whom he stayed with for a short time once in Canada.  A fellow researcher has a Peter Currie and wife Jane McNiven travelling with brother Neil Currie and wife Christena McNiven (sister to Jane) from Cairnduncan, Kilchoman parish, Islay who sailed in the later part of 1855 with a third brother.  They have never been able to identify the third person.  Peter and Jane's oldest daughter was Margaret and  son Archibald supposedly died on the voyage.  Several of these names fit and John later named one of his sons Archibald.  None of this information can be comfirmed.

The 1861 census shows Euphemia Maclean living in Machrie, Kilchoman, age 74 with sons Neil, age 38, a shoemaker and Archibald, age 35, an agricultural labourer.

The 1871 census shows Euphemia Maclean living in Ballanaby, Kilchoman, with son Donald, age 38, a farm servant.

Picture at left:  John Johnston and wife, Elizabeth Hall Torrie married Sept 29, 1868 in Wellington County, Ontario, Canada.  Elizabeth was a widow with two children from her first marriage to Duncan Torrie who passed away in 1865.  Their children were Janet "Jennie" Torrie born June 26, 1861 and Robert James Torrie born Feb 11, 1863.  

John and Elizabeth raised Janet and Robert Torrie in Erin Township, Wellington County, Ontario, moving to Sundridge, Parry Sound, Ontario around 1878.  John and Elizabeth's children are listed below:

John Jr, born August 4, 1869, Erin Township, Wellington County, Ontario
Eliza Catherine, born Sept 11, 1871, Erin Township, died 1871, buried in the Everton cemetery in Eramosa, Wellington County, Ontario.
Archibald Hall, born April 5, 1873
William Henry, born May 8, 1875 in Erin Township
Norman George, born July 6, 1877, Erin Township
Fergus Fonger, born March 23, 1879, Sundridge, Parry Sound, Ontario, died 1879
Elizabeth Euphemia "Effie", born 1881 in Sundridge
Duncan Currie, born August 27, 1884, Sundridge
Charles Dickie, born August 11, 1887, Sundridge



The following are excerpts from the Strong Township and Sundridge history book, "The Lake in the Hills".

Page 12, Members of Agricultural Society 1885 lists John Johnston.

Page 16, Haying. In pioneer days a large quantity of hay was an absolute necessity. The lumber companies, loggers, liveries, farmers and villagers all depended on horse drawn vehicles for transportation. Farmers such as John Hornibrook, Elijah Prior, John Paget, Frank Trudgeon, John Johnston and the Tripps produced quantities of this field crop to supply the logging companies.:

Page 9, Township of Strong Agricultural Society, "Much interest was created at the 1896 fair as a competition for the most points was created between two prominent farmers, Mr. John Paget and Mr. John Johnston. A gold-headed cane was the prize."

Page 135, "John Johnston, his wife Elizabeth and their four sons, John Jr. (11), Archibald (9), William (6) and Norman (r) left the town of Arthur in Wellington County in 1880 to locate Lots 6 and 7, Concession 9 in Strong Township. John Johnston Jr. located Lot 5, Concession 8 in 1889. The Johnston homestead bordered the Distress Road and neighbours of the Johnstons were the Ryes, Jeffreys, Phillips, and Inglises. Later in the century all these families left for Western Canada. John Johnston was an excellent farmer. He and John Paget vied for the highest number of points at early exhibitions of the Strong Agricultural Society. The Johnston family left for the West in 1911. Before their departure Mr. and Mrs. Johnston were entertained by the members of the Bloomfield Presbyterian and Methodist Churches."

John's wife Elizabeth passed away September 27, 1894 and is buried in the Sundridge/Strong Cemetery, Parry Sound.  In 1906 John moved west to settle near Lamont, Alberta with son John and his wife Abbie, and sons Duncan and Charles "Dick". Six months later on August 18, 1906, John passed away in home of his step-daughter, Janet Alton in Partridge Hill, Alberta  at the age of 75.  He us believed to be buried in the Fort Saskatchewan Cemetery in an unknown gravesite.

Photo left, last known photograph of John Johnston.





If you have any information that may fit in with my family, have information about any of the photographs, or have any questions or comments please e-mail me at

Norma Callicott


Updated April 05, 2007