The second daughter of George and Phyllis Campbell, Avril Phaedra Douglas Campbell was born on March 10, 1947, in Port Alberni, British Columbia, and raised in that province's largest city, Vancouver. Her father, a World War II veteran who was wounded during the Italian campaign, received a university degree after the war and became a lawyer. The parents divorced when their daughter was 12. In her own words, "My mother left a very difficult marriage … it had everything to do with the powerlessness of women in those days. The breakup … was very painful for me and being on my own as a teenager was very painful …. " It was during this period of emotional turmoil that Campbell began calling herself "Kim. " She did not see her mother for a decade after the divorce.