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A descendant of the Dukes of Roxburghe and cousin of Allan Ebenezer Ker, Robert was born in Dalkeith and educated in Scotland, and came to Vancouver Island in 1859. He was friendly with colonial governor Sir James Douglas and John Sebastian Helmcken. Upon Canadian Confederation in 1867, he was appointed to the position of Dominion paymaster general. He died in Victoria, British Columbia of exposure during a snowstorm.
The Ker Memorial Wing of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is named in his honour.
In 2009 the Ker Family celebrated its 150th anniversary in British Columbia.
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