KER, ROBERT (the family name is also spelled Kerr or Carr, but his branch used Ker), public servant; b.14 Aug. 1824 in Dalkeith, Scotland, son of James Ker and Janet Ker; m. at Bathgate, Scotland, on 19 July 1855 to Jessie Russell by whom he had five sons and one daughter; d. 11 or 12 Feb. 1879 at Victoria, B.C.
Robert Ker belonged to a family long prominent on the Scottish border. He was educated in Scotland, presumably as an accountant, and is said to have become a freemason before he emigrated to Victoria, Vancouver Island, in 1859. He had intended to join the gold rush to the mainland colony of British Columbia, but instead he became a clerk in the Treasury Department of B.C. on 1 June 1859 and on 12 July 1860 was made chief clerk in the Department of the Auditor General. He was himself appointed auditor general of B.C. on 14 March 1865; he also acted as auditor for the colony of Vancouver Island from 31 Aug. 1861 to 21 April 1864, when the audit office of B.C. was moved from Victoria to New Westminster and he was obliged to resign the Vancouver Island appointment. On the union of the colonies in 1866 Ker was continued as auditor general, and when the capital was moved from New Westminster to Victoria in 1868 he returned to Victoria to live.
He remained in the service of the province until confederation, when he was given the office of dominion paymaster general, which the Victoria Colonist called “a responsible position, for which his tried integrity and past experience eminently fit him.” He retired on pension on 1 Oct. 1874 and died of exposure in “the great snowstorm” of 1879. The 100th anniversary of Robert Ker’s arrival in Victoria was commemorated in 1959 by his grandson, Robert Henry Brackman Ker, who donated the Ker Memorial Wing to the Greater Victoria Art Gallery.
[Information on the family was received from R. H. B. Ker in an interview on 5 Aug. 1970. d.b.s.] General Register Office (Edinburgh), Parish registers, Register of proclamations and marriages for the parish of Bathgate. PABC, Robert Ker correspondence, 1861–71. British Columbia, Blue Books, 1859–70 (copies in PABC). Colonist (Victoria), 1859–79. Government Gazette (Victoria), 12 Aug. 1865. Victoria Daily Times, 6 Jan. 1960. R. E. Gosnell, A history of British Columbia (n.p., 1906), 588. S. D. Scott, “The attitude of the colonial governors and officials towards confederation,” British Columbia & confederation, ed. W. G. Sheldon (Victoria, 1967), 159, 161.