Born in Waterville, Kings County, Nova Scotia, Canada on 12 April 1867 to John William and Mary Ann (Best) Johnstone. Later he moved to the states living in Michigan, Massachusetts, Connectecut and Vermont.
He was a published poet, having written the poem "No Vermonter's in Heaven". A poem that seems to be known by Vermonters. His two publications on poetry were "Book of Original Poems", 1893; and "Selections from Johnstone Poems", 1915. The 1915 publication contains his Vermont poem.
He was listed as a lawyer on his marriage certificate to his first wife Edna (Gray) of Boston in 1894.
A later search showed he received his masters in law from the University of Michigan in the early 1890's. But it seems the trade he applied most was as an "Extraction Dentist". He traveled around with horse and buggy in Orwell, Bristol, and a few other small towns in Vermont, pulling teeth. In later years it is said he drove around in his Model T, with a tool box full of teeth and extracting tools, applying his trade.
He and Edna had one child, Mildred Sylvia. Ernest and Edna divorced at some point and Edna and their daughter Sylvia moved on to Covina, California. Ernest married again in 1909 to Jessie (Mossman) Phelps. They also had one daughter named Gwenyth. Ernest died in Bristol, Vermont on 7 April 1938. He is buried next to second wife Jessie in Greenwood Cemetery, Bristol, Vermont. His obituary states that he died of a heart attack at the Park Filling Station, where he had stopped for a few minutes while on his way home from the post office.
Source for below: "A History of the Town of Orwell, Vermont, Dedicated to all
citizens - Past & Present"; Compiled and organized by the Orwell Historical
Society, 1988., page 59, Heading of "DENTISTS":
"Dr. E. F. JOHNSTONE was a native of Nova Scotia. He practiced his
profession in Brandon, Orwell, Shoreham, and Bristol. He died in the last
named town in 1938 and his widow and daughter, Gwenyth, then resided in
Burlington. While in Orwell he lived at the old Phelps homestead north of
Orwell depot which is still known to many as the "Johnstone place." He was
accustomed to drive around the countryside with a horse and buggy, stopping
at various places to ply his trade, especially tooth pulling! He wrote
poetry on the side, a sample of which is printed elsewhere in this book."
I dreamed that I went to the city of gold,
"This poem has wandered widely through the American newspaper press and into other publications, into libraries, and business advertising, and it is usually credited to "Anonymous." The poem was copyrighted in 1915 by the author. Doctor Johnstone was born in Waterville, Nova Scotia, in 1867. He earned degrees at the University of Michigan in law and later in dentistry, which he practiced in Brandon, Orwell, Shoreham, and Bristol, where he died on April 8, 1938. The poem appeared in the Rutland Daily Herald and was written in 1914. Mrs. Johnstone explains the circumstances of the writing of the poem thus: "He was driving over Rochester Mountain in the fall of the year. It was in horse and buggy days, and he had ample opportunity to review the beauty about him as his horse eased his way down the mountain. Dr. Johnstone was always a lover of nature, and his great regard for it often overflowed in spontaneous verse as was the case with 'No Vermonters in Heaven'." So there are "no Vermonters in Heaven" for obvious reasons..."