Gilbert Tennent McKinlay was born in Glasgow on 1 May 1851, the youngest child of Aulay McKinlay and his wife Jean Chalmers. When Gilbert was four years old he left Scotland with his mother and five siblings, arriving in Victoria in Aug 1855 on the White Eagle. He worked in drapery businesses in Ballarat and Melbourne before coming to Launceston. He was employed by, and later purchased, the Williamson & Thomas drapery in Brisbane Street. He joined Robert McKay and Richard Sampson in 1887 to form the company McKay, Sampson & McKinlay. This business flourished and opened branches around Tasmania. In 1921 the company became McKinlay's Pty Ltd.
Gilbert married Anne Colville in Victoria in 1874, but their three children were born in Launceston: George Colville , 1875-1961; Ella, 1878-1932 and Tennent Lawson, 1883-1883. Anne died on 27 Oct 1904. Gilbert married a second time to Kate Salter on 25 Apr 1913 at Dulwich Hill Baptist Church, Sydney. He died aged 86 on 12 Jul 1937. Kate died on 27 Oct 1939 and was buried at Carr Villa next to her husband. His son George became managing director of McKinlay's, and his grandson Gilbert Colville McKinlay joined the business in 1928. The last of Launceston's family-owned department stores closed in 1984. Gilbert's wife Anne, children George and Ella, and future wife Kate Salter are also in the Launceston Family Album. See The Examiner 11 Feb 2006, p. 29.