100 Years, 100 People: 1920 - 1929
A decade of promise
Izaac Walton Killam
Izaak Walton Killam was born in 1885 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. At age 18, he began his career as a clerk in a bank. His financial talent and reputation caught the attention of Max Aitken, who offered him a job at Royal Securities. In 1919 Aitken, who had moved to England, sold Royal Securities to Killam. During Killam’s leadership, Royal Securities became one of Canada’s most influential investment houses and he established himself as an outstanding figure in Canadian financial history.
One of his business interests was Calgary Power. He became director in 1917 and served as president from 1924 to 1928. Killam was also majority shareholder of Calgary Power until 1974 and chairman of the board until 1955.
During his leadership, Killam initiated the rural electrification process expanding the transmission system north and south of Calgary. In 1928, Killam negotiated to supply and manage all City of Calgary power needs.
Killam died in 1955 at the age of 70. By then, he was considered Canada’s richest man.
Geoffrey Abbott Gaherty
Geoffrey Abbot Gaherty was president of Calgary Power for 32 years. His administration has been the longest so far and perhaps the most instrumental in the development of the company and the province of Alberta.
Gaherty, who started with Calgary Power in the mid-20s, was an engineer and economist who possesed strong long-term planning skills. During his administration, a total of nine hydro stations were completed. He also expanded operations from hydro to thermal base.
Many employees remembered Gaherty for his efforts during the Drepression. In spite of the tough financial conditions, Gaherty was able to keep every employee in the company. To do this, staff agreed a 10 per cent cut in salary to avoid any layoffs or cuts.
Gaherty was also active in the aboriginal community. He was named Chief Powerful Waters by the Stony Indian Tribe. He retired in 1960 to become chairman of the board.
Bill Wolley-Dod was born in Calgary in 1896. He was a surveyor and an explorer who an entire winter completing the initial survey of the Spray Lakes area in the early 1920s, living in a tent and coming down to civilization only for supplies. Even though the Spray Lakes Hydro Development was built in late 1951; surveying of the area took place many years before construction. Wolley-Dod’s team included J.E. Spurling , “chief” of the expedition, R.E. Pugh, A.E Roebotham, G.B. Pusey and cook “Scotty” Lyall.
Wolley-Dod retired in 1963 after 40 years with Calgary Power. He died in 1974 at the age of 78.
Margaret Collett was Calgary Power’s first female employee. She was hired in December 1927; a few months after the company moved its office to Calgary from the Seebe plants. Collett, later known as Margaret Furness, played a key role in the system that mailed bills to customers. Her job was to stamp customer addresses during the company’s first attempt to send out bills by machine. Her starting salary was $75 Cdn per month. Collett retired as arrears clerk in 1963, after 36 years with Calgary Power.
Frank Kay was a Calgary Power employee for 51 years. His lengthy career with Calgary Power started as a junior accounting clerk in 1929 just after the stock market crashed. In 1933 he worked for Calgary Water Power Co; a subsidiary of Calgary Power. After serving his tour of duty in World War II, Kay returned to Calgary Power as a clerk in Finance and Accounting. From then on his title changed six times as his career progressed in the Accounting, Finance and Management groups. Kay retired in 1980 as an assistant treasurer.