Honouring Margery Trenholme: The Librarian Who Left a Lasting Legacy of Generosity

Black and white photo of a woman holding a door handle outside the Fraser-Hickson library: an example of legacy giving.
Margery Trenholme outside the Fraser-Hickson library in NDG, Montreal.

Margery Trenholme wanted to be a lawyer. And that would have been fine, except that Margery was born in 1913 and when she obtained her B.A. with first class honours from McGill in 1935, it wasn’t yet possible for women to become lawyers in Quebec. Women would not be admitted to the Quebec Bar until 1942.

Since she could not accomplish her dream due to these circumstances beyond her control, Margery became a teacher. Later, using an inheritance she received from an aunt, she obtained her degree in Library Studies (McGill ‘46) and made her way to Harvard, to work in the Law Library. Soon, however, she returned to Montreal where she established the library at the McGill School for Graduate Nurses and Physiotherapists.

Throughout her life, Margery lived modestly, without any luxury that, today, we might call “self-care”. She preferred buses over taxis. One thing she did permit herself, however, was travel. She loved to travel and was known to her family for being adventurous. Through it all, she continued to thrive in her work as a librarian. For 33 years, she was Chief Librarian at the Fraser-Hickson Library in Montreal, where she instituted many innovations, such as offering large-print books and delivery for those physically unable to visit the library.

Margery’s Generous Gift

Margery’s deep connection to the MGH led to her being elected a Life Governor of the hospital. Margery received this distinction due to her generosity and active association with the mission of this institution. It was only after Margery died that her family, including her nephew John Blachford, learned of the astounding generosity that she had bestowed upon the Montreal General Hospital Foundation. With a gift in her will of over half a million dollars, Margery decided to share the fruits of her life’s labours with the community that meant so much to her.

We feel deeply honoured to have been included in her legacy. the Foundation will commemorate Margery with a plaque outside the medical library at the Montreal General Hospital; a place where she would most certainly have felt at home.

From left to right: Gina Steszyn, Development Officer, Major Gifts; Alexander King, Vice President, Development; Margery’s nephew, John Blachford, holding the plaque in her honour; and Catherine St-André, Director, Gift and Estate Planning, outside the MGH library.
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