JOHNSTON, GEORGE MOIR, surgeon; b. 10 Oct. 1817 in Pictou, N.S., son of Dr George Johnston and his wife Sarah Hatton; d. at his residence, Hillside, in Pictou, 17 Jan. 1877. He married Sarah Mortimer Smith, daughter of George Smith, merchant and mla for Pictou County, 1836–40; they had four sons and one daughter.
George Moir Johnston attended the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, where his father had been educated, and was admitted to the Royal College of Surgeons of England on 1 June 1838. Returning to Pictou, he established a medical practice, which he continued for 38 years. On 15 April 1841 Dr Johnston was appointed health officer for Pictou; he was also on the Board of Health for that town. Pictou was then one of the most important ports in the province and its health officials sometimes had to care for sick and poverty-stricken immigrants. From 1843 to 1865 he served as surgeon to the 1st Regiment of Pictou County militia, and then as surgeon to the Militia Artillery Brigade. In 1867 he was elected one of the officers of the Pictou County Rifle Association.
Dr Johnston was a founding member of the Medical Society of Nova Scotia in 1854 and served as first president of the Pictou County Medical Society in 1864. He was a delegate to the Dominion Medical Association at Montreal in September 1868; the next year he was a member of the council of the Medical Society of Nova Scotia.
He took a deep interest in the advancement of agriculture and horticulture, and was an enthusiastic patron of the arts and sciences in Pictou County. When the Pictou Literary and Scientific Society was formed in 1834 he was one of the founding members. He was prominent in the freemasons, having been an officeholder in the New Caledonia Lodge of Pictou, where he was associated with Simon Hugh Holmes* who became premier of Nova Scotia, James MacDonald*, later chief justice, and Edmund Mortimer McDonald, of the Eastern Chronicle.
PANS, Pictou County, death certificates for the quarter ending 31 March 1877; “Distinguished Pictonians of New Caledonia Lodge,” compiled by E. T. Bliss, 1960; Halifax Medical Society, Minutes, 1853–61; Nova Scotia Medical Society, Minutes, 1861–68; “Pictou County Cemeteries’ list,” compiled by H. C. Ritchie, 1951, 1956. Colonial Standard (Pictou, N.S.), 23 Jan. 1877.