Topic: Dr Archibald Johnston

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Country doctor's descendants gather for reunion

Dr Archibald Johnston was born 1898 in a little village called Makotuku in the Hawkes Bay.

His father was a teacher, and Archibald became a medical doctor, marrying his wife Lilias 1924. Around 1934, the couple moved down to Canterbury and settled in Lincoln in a villa-style house in what is today known as Edward Street. The house, with a macrocarpa hedge around it, also did duty as a surgery. Dr Johnston was very hardworking, often called out at night, getting home in the early hours of the morning, going down to surgery and making home visits afterwards.

Lilias was a pharmacist and dispensed for her husband, and was known to be very meticulous. In those days, the house/surgery doors were never locked!

During his working life, Dr Johnston bought many babies into the world, and helped keep them healthy as they grew up. He was very fond of children, and many adults today have fond memories of him. In 1960, Dr Johnston and his wife retired to Tai Tapu, but he still worked as a locum for overworked GPs!

Dr Johnston died in 1971. The descendants of the late Dr Archibald and Lilias Johnston held a reunion in Christchurch at the end of January. His family - Bill, Rosemary, Helen, Robin, their families and grandchildren - all attended. On the Friday evening, all met for a social time together. Saturday saw descendants meeting for a picnic at Sumner, reminiscing on their fond memories of picnic days on the beach, paddling, sandcastles, hard-boiled eggs,pipis, melting penny icecreams, sunburn and trams.

That evening a dinner was held, and a number of anecdotes told of various amusing incidents that happened in the early days. All present came to the conclusion that they couldn't have had better parents or a happier childhood, or lived in a better place than Lincoln. The Presbyterian church in Lincoln (now a Union church) was visited on Sunday morning where family members had attended Sunday School and were regular members of the congregation, and where all the girls were married. "The service was truly memorable," said one of Dr Johnston's daughters, Helen Webber. "The welcome we received from the minister was quite overwhelming and the service was beautiful in its simplicity. "Three people who had known Dad since their birth spoke of their memories of him, and after the service there was time for a cup of tea and reminiscing with old friends from schooldays." Helen said that the family considered their time at the church was the highlight of the week-end.

After church, descendants visited their old home, "Spring Grove", with the present owner, Kate Carnaby, kindly showing them over the house. "It was great for our children and grandchildren to see where their parents and grandparents lived, and our thanks and appreciation go to Kate for this opportunity," Helen concluded.

Dr Johnston's descendants considered they all went home enriched by the experience of the weekend, and despite great changes in the Lincoln township, were convinced the people are still as warm-hearted and hospitable as they remembered them.

Source: Ellesmere Echo, 8 February 2006

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Dr Archibald Johnston


First Names:Archibald
Last Name:Johnston
Date of Birth:1898
Place of Birth:Makotuku, Hawkes Bay, NZ
Date of Death:1971
Place of Death:Tai Tapu, Selwyn, NZ
User Name:Selwyn Library