Upper Big Tracadie Women’s Work

Marjorie (“Margie”) Desmond was born on October 18, 1939 in Upper Big Tracadie, Guysborough County, one of eight children. After leaving school, she became the childcare provider at the home of Donald and Margaret I. Chisholm. 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. We have been privileged to work with so many devoted and reliable employees over the years that became like family to us. Margie represents all of them.”

Mrs. Dorothy Day (nee Ash) worked as a domestic for the Hagerty family of Monastery (late 1930’s-early 1940’s) prior to her marriage to John Day of Upper Big Tracadie.  She was the first to live in the second Hagerty home built in Monastery.  She originally had a room designated as the maid’s room on the third floor, but the cold forced her out and into quarters on the second floor.  She enjoyed working for the Hagerty’s and was called ‘Cook’ up until the day she fixed the generator, after the handy man had failed to do so, when she received the name ‘Chief’.


An African Canadian Nanny with her charges strolling along the Guysborough waterfront; typifies the work opportunities for African Canadian women in the first half of the 20th century.

Ms. Elsie Elizabeth Elms, Mrs. Patricia Skinner’s mother, left home when Pat was very young (late 1930’s) and travelled to the United States, to work and send money back to the family in Canada.  She first entered the U.S. as a nanny and eventually worked her way through night school and into a high level secretarial position.