The 1981 Seven-Million Dollar Cake for StFX

The death of Reverend Doctor Gregory Aloysius MacKinnon in his 98th year and 73rd year of ordained life was announced in August 2022. On August 19, 2022, the St. Francis Xavier University (StFX) community along with family and friends celebrated the life of Reverend Doctor Gregory Aloysius MacKinnon, who served as StFX President from 1978 to 1990.  These black and white photos accompanied the announcement on the StFX Facebook page without a date or description.
Karen Smith and Kim Dickson,  Director and Assistant Director of Public Relations, and Dorothy Lander, Manager of Residences and Food Services during Fr. Greg MacKinnon’s presidency were able to fill in part of the story behind the pictures. Karen and Kim both had saved the colour photo of the cake cutting in their photo albums. Karen is cutting the cake, Kim at her side, Ann Grady, Secretary in the PR Department behind them.  Women power at StFX in the 1980s.
The 7-layer cake was Karen Smith’s initiative in the spring of 1981. It celebrated the $7 million dollar mark of a fundraising campaign spearheaded by Brian Mulroney to build the Alumni Aquatic Centre addition to the then Oland Centre. The silver numbers on the cake are 7-6-5-4-3-2-1.  Karen Smith: “Each cake layer represented staff, faculty, support workers who made the campaign such a success. I wanted a special thank you (hence the idea for the cake) for the tireless and sometimes overlooked internal family at X.”
The goal had been $5 million and ultimately reached $12 million, unprecedented in StFX history.  This was before Brian Mulroney ran for the Conservative Party leadership.   Brian Mulroney, Bishop William Power, and Fr. Greg MacKinnon are in the photo of breaking ground for the Alumni Aquatic Centre.
Dorothy Lander weighed in on the b/w photo of the cake-cutting in the MacKay Room in Bloomfield Centre.  Father Greg MacKinnon and Fred Van de Reep are cutting the cake.  Fred Van de Reep was a European-trained chef, who was responsible for the menus in the Priests’ Dining Room in Morrison Hall for over three decades, beginning when the Sisters of St. Martha were responsible for Food Services through contract services with Saga, Versa, and Marriott.  Michael (can anyone help with his last name?) standing behind Fred was a wonderful cook who apprenticed under Fred.  Michael’s baking artistry was epic in the student dining room in Morrison Hall. Ian MacKinnon standing beside Father Greg piped the $7 million dollar cake into the MacKay Room.
Fr. Greg MacKinnon’s legacy as President of StFX is recognized as balancing the legacy of the past with the realities of the modern educational setting.  One of these realities was the need for fundraising campaigns if StFX was to grow and prosper, presaging the generosity of StFX alumni supporting campaigns for the major construction projects that followed Fr. Greg’s Presidency into the 21st century.
Posted in Education & Lifelong Learning, Gender, Infrastructure, Housing &Transport, Photography Archives, Recreation and Sports.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *