Fonds - Michael Johnstone Fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Michael Johnstone Fonds

General material designation

  • Multiple media

Parallel title

Other title information

Title statements of responsibility

Title notes

Level of description


Reference code

Edition area

Edition statement

Edition statement of responsibility

Class of material specific details area

Statement of scale (cartographic)

Statement of projection (cartographic)

Statement of coordinates (cartographic)

Statement of scale (architectural)

Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1973-2011 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

291.5 cm of textual material
475 photographs: 441 col., 34 b&w, 20 sheets of negatives, 2 sheets of slides
3 posters
2 mixed media artworks
1 sign
1 oversized photograph reproduction
9 artifacts: 1 plaque, 4 t-shirts, 2 buttons, 1 flag, 1 fabric
10 audio cassette tapes (unprocessed)
17 DVDs (unprocessed)
57 VHS tapes (unprocessed)
3 5.25 inch floppy disks (unprocessed)
3 3.5 inch floppy disks (unprocessed)

Publisher's series area

Title proper of publisher's series

Parallel titles of publisher's series

Other title information of publisher's series

Statement of responsibility relating to publisher's series

Numbering within publisher's series

Note on publisher's series

Archival description area

Name of creator

(March 27, 1945 - July 26, 2018)

Biographical history

Michael Roderick Johnstone was born in Hamilton, Ontario at the Salvation Army Hospital. He graduated from McMaster University in 1969 where he served as the Student Cultural Affairs Commissioner and President of the McMaster Students Union. He was also involved with The Silhouette, McMaster University’s student-run newspaper as a writer from 1962 to 1963 and with the McMaster’s Film Board. Michael returned to school at Mohawk College for nursing in the 1980’s and worked at the Hamilton General Hospital as a registered nurse in the post-operative care unit for more than 25 years until his retirement.

Michael was involved in the founding of many gay and lesbian organizations in the Hamilton area. Prior to moving back to Hamilton in 1979, he was a member of Gays of Ottawa from 1976 to 1979. Michael also served as a secretary of the Coordinating Office of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Rights Coalition that dealt with specific issues of federal jurisdiction. At this time, the Hamilton-McMaster Gay Liberation Movement group had been established. To expand outside of McMaster University and into the broader Hamilton community, core members of the McMaster Homophile Association formed Hamilton United Gay Societies (HUGS) in 1980. Michael was one of the founding members of HUGS and served in different executive committee roles such as secretary, treasurer and president from 1980 to 1982 and again from 1988 to 1991 when HUGS changed its name to Hamilton Gay and Lesbian Alliance (HGALA). Michael was the self-appointed archivist of the Hamilton-Wentworth Gay Archives which was founded in 1982 and was also involved in the Gay Phoenix (then The Phoenix/Hamilton Phoenix) newsletter, Lesbian/Gayline and Speakers’ Bureau.

Since its founding in 1986, Michael was a member of the Hamilton AIDS Network for Dialogue and Support (HANDS) Board of Directors, was the president from 1991 to 1993, and a member of the Steering Committee. He was also involved in the AIDS Prevention Task Force Implementation Subcommittee of the Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth, the AIDS Working Group on Anonymous HIV Testing, and Regional Palliative Care Program Hospice Services Group.

At the Hamilton GALA Honour Roll Dinner in 1991, Michael Johnstone and Anne Cassel were presented with the Honour Roll Award plaque to recognize their contributions to the LGBTQ+ community in Hamilton throughout the years.

In addition to Michael’s activist work, he was a part of the Social Justice and World Outreach committees of the Hamilton Presbytery of the United Church of Canada and was an active member of the Hamilton Group of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East.

Michael passed away from lung cancer on July 26, 2018 at the Good Shepherd’s Emmanuel House hospice in Hamilton which used to be a housing residence for individuals living with HIV/AIDS.

Custodial history

The fonds was donated to the Hamilton Public Library, Local History and Archives on December 28, 2018 by Cole Gately and Bill MacKinnon, principal representatives of the Estate of Michael Johnstone. As the self-appointed archivist of the Hamilton-Wentworth Gay Archives, Michael kept materials from this fonds since the 1980’s when they established the archives under the Hamilton United Gay Societies (HUGS). The collection started with Michael and Mike W. Dorman, founder of Gay Fathers in Toronto and Hamilton and affiliate of HUGS, who had collected relevant materials, which were added by Michael Johnstone throughout the years.

Hamilton Spectator newspaper clippings were included in this donation and will be made into scrapbooks in the future. The newspaper clippings are on topics about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community in Hamilton. They were sorted by theme and subgroups based on the existing themes followed by the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives. At present, 24 boxes have been categorized and labeled by Jordana Satok and Kelly Wu while three boxes are still unsorted.

Scope and content

The fonds is composed of materials from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) organizations in Hamilton and its surrounding areas founded from the 1970’s to the 1990’s. Textual materials include agendas, meeting minutes, reports, financial statements, notes, correspondence, newspaper clippings, newsletters, pamphlets, information sheets, flyers, magazines, newspapers, programme books, booklets, directories, bibliographies, and articles. The fonds also consists of other materials such as t-shirts, buttons, a plaque, photographs, posters, artwork, audio cassette tapes, DVDS, floppy disks and VHS tapes.

Contains series and subseries:
Series 1 – Hamilton AIDS Network for Dialogue and Support (HANDS)
Series 2 – Hamilton-McMaster LGBTQ+ Groups
Series 3 – Hamilton United Gay Societies (HUGS)
Subseries 3.1 – Administrative files
Subseries 3.2 – Sub-organizations and associated groups and events
Subseries 3.3 – Lesbian/Gayline
Subseries 3.4 – Gay Phoenix/The Phoenix
Series 4 – Hamilton Gay and Lesbian Alliance (HGALA)
Series 5 – Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario (CLGRO)
Series 6 – Hamilton Pride
Series 7 – Associated Organizations and Events
Series 8 – Resources and Subject files
Series 9 – Publications
Subseries 9.1 – Hamilton
Subseries 9.2 – South/South Western Ontario
Subseries 9.3 – Ontario
Subseries 9.4 – Outside of Ontario and across Canada
Subseries 9.5 – International
Series 10 – Artifacts
Series 11 – Photographs
Subseries 11.1 – HUGS/HGALA Honour Roll Dinners
Subseries 11.2 – Pride
Subseries 11.3 – Festival ‘91
Subseries 11.4 – HUGS Social Events
Subseries 11.5 – Meetings and Locations
Subseries 11.6 – Events and People
Subseries 11.7 – Negatives and slides
Series 12 – Posters and oversized materials
Series 13 – Audio-visual materials

Notes area

Physical condition

Good to fair. Photographs from photograph albums with adhesive backing and plastic coverings were taken out and were individually placed in archival envelopes. The majority of photographs have inscriptions on the back that may still transfer. Some negatives in the sheets may still have some adhesive. The quality of sound for the audio cassette tapes is fair and some tapes have more static than others. Rusty staples and clips were removed.

Immediate source of acquisition

The fonds was donated to the Hamilton Public Library, Local History and Archives on December 28, 2018 by Cole Gately and Bill MacKinnon, principal representatives of the Estate of Michael Johnstone. Some personal photographs of Michael were donated by Sandra Cruickshanks, Michael’s niece, on behalf of his estate on October 17, 2019.


There was no clear arrangement of materials by Michael Johnstone but records were mostly grouped by organization and material type. As the self-appointed archivist of the Hamilton-Wentworth Gay Archives, he intended for the archives to provide a chronological, subjective, and individual or organizational focus on the Hamilton area’s lesbian and gay history. There are records in the fonds that indicate that Michael Johnstone was in contact with the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives (now The ArQuives) in the early 1980’s seeking guidance on organizing an archive. Sample categories for these materials were created by Michael Johnstone and were taken into account during arrangement. Since the Michael Johnstone fonds is the foundation of the Hamilton 2SLGBTQ+ Community Archives, materials were arranged by organization and material type.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats


Restrictions on access

The collection is open to researchers. There are no restrictions on access with the following exception:

Material from Series 13 (boxes 27-31) is currently undergoing processing and is consequently not available for public consultation until this work is completed. Any request to view unprocessed archival material should be directed to the HPL Local History and Archives’ archivist.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Copyright held by creator(s). Any reproduction for public presentation or publication must first seek permission from HPL’s Local History and Archives department in order to review the copyright.

Use of photographic material in series 11 (box 25 and binder 1) for any public display, presentation or publication, including use in an educational or academic environment, is first subject to the review and approval by Local History and Archives’ archivist and/or manager.

Preferred citation: Michael Johnstone fonds, 01179, Hamilton Public Library, Local History and Archives.

Finding aids

File list available

Associated materials

The following related material can be found in the Local History and Archives (LHA) department at Hamilton Public Library pertaining to the Michael Johnstone fonds:

Michael Johnstone Postcard Collection (Accession #01182)
Michael Johnstone Bank of Hamilton Postcard Collection (Accession #01183
Michael Johnstone Family Interview DVD (unprocessed)

Homosexuality Scrapbooks – R306.766 HOM CESH, Vol. 1-4
AIDS Scrapbooks – R616.9792 AID CESH, Vol. 1-3

CF – Hamilton – Organizations and Societies – McMaster Homophile Association
CF – Hamilton – Organizations and Societies – Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Assoc. of McMaster
CF – Hamilton – Organizations – Hamilton United Gay Societies
CF – Hamilton – Festivals – Hamilton Gay and Lesbian Alliance Festival ‘91

The following related material can be found at The ArQuives: Canada’s LGBTQ2+ Archives in Toronto, Ontario pertaining to the Michael Johnstone fonds:

McMaster Homophile Association fonds
Nick Mule fonds

Related materials


No further accruals are expected.

General note

Some materials in this fonds have barcodes for digitization such as the box of photographs (Box 24), binder of sheets of negatives (Binder 1), and individual audio cassette tapes (Box 27). For some photographs, refer to the pieces of paper for captions and information such as names and dates on the inscriptions on the back.

Alternative identifier(s)

Standard number area

Standard number

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Control area

Description record identifier

Institution identifier

Rules or conventions


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Language of description

Script of description


Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related places

Related genres