Dorothy Johnston Killam and Izaak Walton Killam truly believed in the power of education and research.

When her husband died in 1955, Mrs. Killam continued to build upon the fortune he left. 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.

Mrs. Killam selected the Canadian institutions who would benefit from this endowment based upon unique criteria, including the geographic regions where Mr. Killam had held business interests during his lifetime.

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.

female symbol


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 Killam Seminar Series at the MNI

The 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.

a very private person book cover


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 from 2019 on.


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

Following the recommendations in the 2017 Impact Review initiated by the Killam Trusts, the University of Alberta implements its new Killam Accelerator Research Awards to target an underserved group of worthy researchers.

The Present


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 is 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 UBC 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.


NRC Signature (English First) - Black and red, Bilingual

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. And the name of Pieter Cullis, PhD, winner of the 2023 Killam Prize in health sciences, could figure on top of the list.


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.


Launching the Killam NRC Paul Corkum Fellowships

The fellowships support advanced study and research excellence, and create opportunities for Canadian and international scholars to collaborate with NRC researchers.


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.

global network


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.

Scroll to Top