Dorothy Johnston Killam continued to build upon the fortune left by her husband, Izaak Walton Killam, after he died in 1955. By the time Mrs. Killam died in 1965, she had doubled the Killam wealth, and was able to leave more than $100 million to higher education in Canada. That’s equivalent to $450 million in today’s market. Dorothy Killam’s Last Will and Testament would reverently honour the couple’s plans to dedicate their considerable wealth to higher education.
It is doubtful that any couple in Canadian history have contributed more to its enrichment in the fullest sense of that term.
— Douglas How, author of “A Very Private Person”
My purpose in establishing the Killam Trusts is to help in the building of Canada’s future by encouraging advanced study.
— From the Last Will and Testament of Dorothy Johnston Killam
The First 50 Years
The story begins
Killam Trusts officially launches with its endowment to five Canadian universities and the Canada Council.
Research fellowships begin
Canada Council Killam Research Fellowships launch. The following year, nine fellowships were awarded to researchers from seven Canadian universities.
A first for women
Colette Carisse, professor at the University of Montreal, is the first woman to be awarded a Killam Research Fellowship from the Canada Council. Her research was focused on family and women.
Killam Prizes enter the mix
Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Prizes at the Canada Council (now the “Canada Council Killam Prizes”) begins, covering: Health Sciences, Natural Sciences and Engineering.
Another first for women
Dr. Brenda Milner, one of the world’s most celebrated neuroscientists, is the first woman to receive a Killam Prize — this one in Health Sciences.
Killam laureate becomes Nobel laureate
Dr. Michael Smith (left), Killam Professor and Killam Research Prize recipient at UBC, receives the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
The Montreal Neurological Institute (“MNI”) hosts speakers
The MNI (now The Neuro. Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) launches the Killam Seminar Series, showcasing speakers whose research is of great interest to the scientific community.
Killam Prize increases
The Canada Council Killam Prize is increased from $75,000 to $100,000 and expanded to cover “the range of academic endeavour” across Canada.
Humanities & Social Sciences added
The Killam Prizes add two new categories — Humanities and Social Sciences — to the original three — Health Sciences, Natural Sciences and Engineering — bringing the total to five.
Killam biography sheds new light
The second edition of the biography of Izaak Walton Killam, A Very Private Person, is published, shining a light on Dorothy J. Killam.
Market value hits global high
The Killam Trusts approaches $400 million in market value – about the size of England’s Rhodes Trust, and close to Sweden’s Nobel Foundation.
Governor General leads awards
The Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, begins hosting the Canada Council Killam Prize awards at Rideau Hall, and continues until the end of his tenure as Governor General in 2017.
CBC showcases winners
CBC Radio IDEAS host, Paul Kennedy, first participates in a Killam symposium and starts interviewing Canada Council Killam Prize winners. New host Nahlah Ayed continues the tradition in 2019 and 2020.
Nobel Prize in Physics for Killam scholar
Dr. Arthur B. McDonald, winner of the 2010 Canada Council Killam Prize in Natural Sciences and a Canada Council Killam Research Fellowship in 1998, receives the Nobel Prize in Physics.
Killam Trusts celebrates 50 years
At its 50th Anniversary, the Killam endowments stand at $460 million. The Killam Trusts Impact Review is published. George Cooper steps down as Trustee after serving for 34 years (24 as Managing Trustee) marking the longest term held by a Killam Trustee.
New awards at the University of Alberta
The University of Alberta implements its new Killam Accelerator Research Awards, valued at $75,000 per year — to target an underserved group of worthy researchers — following the recommendations of the 2017 Impact Review initiated by the Killam Trusts.
Dr. Brenda Milner celebrates 100th Birthday
Dr. Milner has been a Dorothy J. Killam Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at The Neuro since 1993 and still a wonderful mentor.
Former Governor General becomes Chair
The Right Honourable David Johnston, former Governor General of Canada, becomes the official Chair of the Canada Council Killam Prize ceremony.
Killam promotes its core principles
The Killam Trusts relaunches its vision, mission and values to remind the world about its focus on research excellence, innovation, humanity and multidisciplinary collaboration.
The UBC launches a Killam Accelerator Research Fellowship
The Killam Accelerator Research Fellowship at the University of British Columbia is intended to support exceptional early career researchers across all disciplines who have the potential for significant impact in their field of scholarship and are ready to launch the next stage of their career.
New collaboration for the national Killam program
The Canada Council for the Arts announced that it will transition administration of the national Killam program to the National Research Council Canada (NRC) by March 2022.
The Next 50 Years
Killam scholar develops vaccine to save billions
At the rate Killam Laureates are progressing in medical science, we envision a day when they will lead the way preventing global pandemics.
Launch of the National Killam Program
The 2023 National Killam Program cycle launches under the administration of the National Research Council of Canada.
National Killam Program 2023 Laureates
The National Killam Program announces the 2023 Killam Prize winners and the first rebranded Dorothy Killam Fellowship winners.
Killam AI invention solves global water shortages
Artificial intelligence is being deployed to solve equations on a global scale, and the world’s water supply is an increasingly urgent problem in the queue.
Killam funding expands into space
The next frontier could be well within reach for Killam Laureates already deeply engaged in post-graduate astrophysics.
Killam laureate cures cancer
As Killam Laureates continue to break barriers in medicine and cancer research, significant developments are on the horizon.
Synthetic lifeform aspires to become Killam Laureate
Imagine a world where a robot acquires the brilliance, curiosity, drive, global awareness and commitment of a Killam Laureate.