Marjorie Desmond

Marjorie Desmond (1939-1991), nanny to the John Chisholm family, and community activist, on lawn of Chisholm home, 1950s. Courtesy of Sandra Gero. Restoration: Anne Louise MacDonald



Banner 3 - Fal Marjorie Desmond activist friend of Gero Phee Skinner families


In 2006, John Chisholm, prominent Nova Scotian businessman and President of Nova Construction, donated $1 million to StFX, towards the building of the Coady International Centre, including a state-of-the art meeting room named in honour of Marjorie Desmond.

The Globe and Mail headline for this story on April 1, 2006 was “University Centre to have nanny’s name.”

Marjorie (“Margie”) was born on October 18, 1939 in Upper Big Tracadie, Guysborough County, the fourth of eight children. She helped raise the Chisholms’ six children, including John. “Margie stayed with my family for more than 30 years,” said John Chisholm. “My siblings, my children, and my nieces and nephews all grew up with her and we considered her a close family member. Marjorie was a supporter of the Coady International Institute. She attended numerous Coady events over the years and became friends with many of the students who traveled from Asia, Africa and elsewhere to study. She would often provide food and refreshments for Coady parties.” For Mr. Chisholm, Margie represented all the best qualities of the thousands of people his family had employed over the decades. “She was so humble, loyal, humorous – everything great.

Perhaps Marjorie Desmond struck a chord with the young Sandra Gero, who made a speech at the week-long Human Rights Conference hosted by the Antigonish Regional High School in the early 80s. Sandra told me that Majorie Desmond’s good friend, Pat Skinner, helped her write the speech.

In 2014, Sandra Gero is a cashier at the 5¢ to $1 Store on Main Street.

Posted in Play & Early Childhood Education and tagged , , , .


  1. Dorothy Lander in conversation with Arthur Venedam, June 30, 2014, in response to this photo: I remember when my father was involved in renovating the Chisholm house. He was working for John Whidden at the time – before he started his own business in 1972. This would have been in the 1960s. My father and Marjorie Desmond were great friends and she was a great help when the renovation, which was in the winter, got delayed. Mrs. Chisholm was upset – in tears.

    July 6, 2014. The news of John Chisholm’s death on July 4, followed closely on these conversations about his generosity and the importance of Marjorie Desmond in his life.

  2. The report of the Human Rights Conference hosted by the Antigonish Regional High School includes this reference to Sandra Gero:

    Miss Gero discussed the plight of the Black person in today’s society. She noted that the names and accomplishments of famous Blacks are not to be found in textbooks while in a community like Antigonish area which is peopled by 500 Blacks, one never sees a Black shopkeeper, a BLACK CASHIER (my emphasis), a Black post office worker or a Black bank teller.

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