Gilbert Clarke Killam was born in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, on March 6, 1863 to John Killam and Lucy Anne Harris. He married Jennie Mary Sanderson (born in St. Petersberg, Prince Edward Island) in 1891 and together they had three sons: Arthur Sanderson, Gilbert Wallace, and Thomas Harold. The family lived in Pasadena, California for a number of years. Killam listed his trade as “architect.” In 1898, the Killam family moved to Dawson City, Yukon, where Gilbert worked as a Customs Agent while continuing to do some architectural work. From the Yukon, the Killams moved to Vancouver, BC, in 1911 and then to Smithers, BC, when it was first founded in 1913. Killam was active in the Smithers community affairs and served as treasurer of the Smithers Citizens’ Association. He also drafted plans in 1914 for a two-storey building on Main Street for the Gray Jewelry Co., and a home for R.G. Barnett on Second Avenue.
Killam lived in Smithers from 1913 to 1917, photographing Smithers in its infancy. Killam used glass plate negatives, most commonly 5 x 7 and 8 x 10 inches in size, printing “Killam” or “G.C.K” on the negative to indicate authorship.
In 1917, Killam enlisted in the Canadian Army while his wife, Jennie, remained in Seattle, Washington. He served in the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force. Killam was demobilized in 1921, and not much is known about Killam after this time. He appears in the 1921 census in Victoria, BC, without his family, and by 1935, Killam was living in Palm Springs, California. Gilbert Clarke Killam passed away on October 27, 1945.
The original glass plate negatives “disappeared” for a number of years. It was not until 1954 that the negatives were discovered again in a building, which once served as the post office on Main Street. When the post office moved buildings the glass negatives were found and given to Louis Schibli who was, at that time, Smithers’ main photographer. Schibli cared for them for years until the 1980s when he donated them to the Museum.
Scope and Content
Fonds primarily contains photographs and glass plate negatives created by Killam.
Printed on front of photo: "Smithers B.C. Main St. from 2nd. Ave" "Killam" Looking east from 2nd Ave. Business include the A. Chisholm Hardware, Union Bank of Canada, Hobberlin Tailoring (Noel and Rock), Smithers Café, The Smithers Tribune, Mac's Clothing Store and J. Mason Adams.
Looking up Main Street from Broadway Avenue. Sargent's General Store, J. Mason Adams Drugstore, Smithers Cafe, The Smithers Tribune, Hobberlin Tailoring (Noel and Rock), City Bakery & Confectionery, Gray Jewellery Co., The Red Front Store General Merchandise, Wilcocks & Wolseley Real Estate & Insurance, and Palace Rooms can be seen in the photo.