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
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.” http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/university-centre-to-have-nannys-name/article705685
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.