Sid and Frankie

Here is Sid with my grandmother "Frankie", Frances Harriet Killam

This man, born in 1901, was my grandfather, Dr. William Sidney ("Sid") Gilchrist.  He was born in Pictou, Nova Scotia, and received his medical training in Canada, Alabama and Portugal.  He was a Member of the Order of the British Empire, and was one of the one hundred Canadians who earned the Centennial Medal in 1967.  He was a recipient of many further honorary degrees and awards in addition to his professional designations.  He served at a county health unit in Alabama and with the Canadian Medical Corps in Europe during World War II, but his main life-long vocational devotion was his career as medical missionary in Angola, mainly in Camundongo, Bailundo, Dondi and Chissamba.  He is renowned for his groundbreaking work there in public health, preventive medicine and the training of African medical workers.

Visit modern day Angola by clicking on this link 

Sid was Dalhousie University's Medical Alumnus of the year for 1970, the year he died.  The excellent biography they provided until recently on their alumni website has been rescued by the Electric Scotland website in its section on Significant Scots: http://www.electricscotland.com/history/other/gilchrist_william.htm

Frankie was Sid's devoted spouse and life-long companion, a shy but strong woman.  She died along with her husband and her daughter Betty in a terrible car accident on the highway near Olds, Alberta in 1970.  Her father was Frederick William Killam, and her mother was Rosina Maud Theakston.  Fred Killam owned the Nova Scotia Nurseries, and had a home high on Kaye Street in Halifax, overlooking the harbour where the two ships collided in the devastating 1917 Halifax Explosion.  Here's an article written by Fred's niece, Frankie's first cousin, about her father Dr. Harold Killam - pages 28 to 34 of this pdf - which also mentions Fred.  Fred and his family survived, but every other family on that street had fatalities and some entire families were wiped out.  I don't know what happened to his business; Dad once told me that the family donated the land to the Canadian war effort, but another descendant thinks the business might also have been wiped out by the explosion. 

Descendants of Frankie's sister Leota are on our family Facebook group, Descendants of Thomas Gilkerson-Gilchrist - Margaret Christison, for example.  Also, since I've been asked about this connection by family members: one of Harold Killam's daughters was Margaret Dorothy Killam who married Carl Edmund Atwood, and she is the mother of Margaret Atwood the well-known Canadian author, so that's how we are related to her - cousins through my great-grandfather and great grand-uncle who were siblings.

Three books and a collection of letters provide further detail into Sid's life and work for anyone who is interested in knowing more about him.  I used to keep them online, but now in the interest of server space on my website, I've removed them.  If you wish to read them, email me for a digital copy.  My nephews and possibly other family members also have copies, in case something has happened to me or to my email address.  
 
Sid wrote Angola Awake in 1968.  It is a call to arms against the Portuguese colonial administrators who were becoming progressively brutish and repressive of the African population in Angola; and it is an attempt to inform and awaken the conscience of influential members of society and institutions in western nations so that they might apply pressure to Portugal to change their policy on the administration of colonialism in Angola.
This is a rich posthumous biography of Sid's life, full of praise and humour, written by a life-long friend, the Reverend Dr. Frank Archibald of Sackville, New Brunswick.
 
This is Sid's first published work, a slender paperback, with photos, written in 1938 shortly before he returned to Canada to obey the patriotic call to serve in the Canadian Medical Corps in Europe during WWII

 
 
My aunt Betty ran an orphanage in Angola for her entire lifetime.  She died in the same automobile accident with Sid and Frankie. 
In conjunction with the orphanage, she ran a school in "domestic science" for young women. 

Each student was assigned one of the orphans for the duration of the course, and was taught to provide expert child-care.

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