The Millar Family Learning and Discovery Room honours Terry Millar’s father and family, who left a distinct mark on Alberta.
Like many of us, Terry Millar inherited a number of qualities from his parents and grandparents. However, his family’s legacy goes beyond eye colour or sense of humor. Born to two generations of pioneers, Terry has inherited a sense of discovery, a connection to nature, and a love of history and learning.
The Millar family first came to Alberta in 1912. Although James Millar was a successful doctor in Wales, his brother, John, knew that he was unhappy and encouraged his brother to help him establish a cattle ranch. John was an adventurer who had journeyed to Alberta a few years prior and had become familiar with the land as a surveyor.
With the promise of free land and a desire to homestead, James started planning for the journey with his wife and three children. The family was originally booked on the Titanic, but rescheduled their journey so that they could arrive in springtime and land in Canada—a decision which saved their lives. While family in England and Scotland implored them to change their minds about the move, they made the journey on the S.S. Megantic on April 22, 1912.
After landing in Montreal, the Millar family settled near Rocky Mountain House, and began the laborious task of clearing the land and expanding the cabin that John had built in anticipation of their arrival.
James’ son, Kenneth, recorded his family’s life near Rocky Mountain House, which is in the process of being transcribed and will be added to the Calgary Public Library’s Local History collection. These memoirs illustrate not only the incredible story and adventures of the Millar family, but also act as a window into a period of Alberta’s history.
As an adult, Kenneth Millar worked as an operator at the Ghost River power plant, and passed the time during long night shifts by reading anything he could get his hands on.
When a tragedy took the life of one of Kenneth’s young sons, Jimmy, the Millar family decided to relocate and his father took a position as the superintendent at the Banff Power Station. During his career, Kenneth helped to build and manage Alberta’s electricity system.
After 48 years at the Banff Power Station, Kenneth retired at 65. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer shortly afterwards and passed away after battling the disease for fifteen months.
To honour his heritage and his father’s insatiable love of reading and learning, Kenneth’s son, Terry, has chosen to establish the Millar Family Fund at the Calgary Public Library with a $250,000 lifetime gift.
In the spirit of the Millar family, the Fund will provide resources to Calgarians by supporting collections, programs, events and services that enable Calgarians to dream, discover and follow their hobbies and passions.
The Millar Family Learning and Discovery Room at the Central Library is named in recognition of Terry’s incredible gift. The program room will foster learning and exploration for all ages—a fitting tribute for a family that left a distinct mark on our province.