History

When Izaak Walton Killam died suddenly in 1955, his wife, Dorothy Johnston Killam continued to build the Killam fortune. When she died in 1965, she left almost $100 million to higher education in Canada. That’s equivalent to $450 million in today’s market; an amount larger than the Rhodes Trust. Dorothy Killam’s Last Will and Testament would reverently honour her husband’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

1965

The story begins

Killam Trusts officially launches with its endowment to five Canadian universities and the Canada Council.

1967

Research fellowships begin

Canada Council Killam Research Fellowships launch. The following year, nine fellowships were awarded to researchers from seven Canadian universities.

1972

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.

female symbol

1981

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.

1983

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.

1993

Killam laureate becomes Nobel laureate

Dr. Michael Smith  (left), Killam Professor and Killam Research Prize recipient at UBC, receives the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

2000

The Montreal Neurological Institute (“MNI”) hosts speakers

The MNI (now “The Neuro”) launches the Killam Seminar Series, showcasing speakers whose research is of great interest to the scientific community.

2001

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.

2002

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.

2004

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.

a very private person book cover

2005

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.

2010

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.

2013

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.

2015

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.

2017

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.

2018

New awards announced

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.

The Present

2019

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.

2019

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.

2020

Killam promotes its core principles

The Killam Foundation relaunches its vision, mission and values to remind the world about its focus on research excellence, innovation, humanity and multidisciplinary collaboration.

The Next 50 Years

2021-2025

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.

2025-2030

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.

drought

2030

Killam funding expands into space

The next frontier could be well within reach for Killam Laureates already deeply engaged in post-graduate astrophysics.

global network

2040

Killam laureate cures cancer

As Killam Laureates continue to break barriers in medicine and cancer research, significant developments are on the horizon.

2070

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.

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