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William Johnstone was born in Scotland in 1868 and moved to Canada from Edinburgh, to establish a studio in Edmonton, later becoming the first President of the Edmonton Art Club upon its establishment in 1921. He conducted classes at the Edmonton Technical School for a period and was also art instructor at the Wetaskiwin High School. William Johnstone was a successful painter and a highly regarded teacher. He generally painted outdoors during the summer, drawing inspiration from the lakes and mountains of the Alberta landscape, and also painted figures and portraits, including a portrait of the Prince of Wales to mark the Royal Visit to Edmonton in 1919.