Desmond, Viola Irene

Identity area

Type of entity


Authorized form of name

Desmond, Viola Irene

Parallel form(s) of name

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence



Viola Irene Desmond (née Davis) was born July 6, 1914, in Halifax, Nova Scotia; one of fifteen children born to James Albert and Gwendolin Irene Davis. Desmond attended Sir Joseph Howe Elementary School and Bloomfield High School before moving on to become a teacher in Preston and Hammonds Plains at two racially-segregated schools. In 1936, she enrolled in the Field Beauty Culture School in Montréal, one of the few institutions that accepted black students. She continued her education in New York and later, in 1940, received a diploma from the Apex College of Beauty and Culture and Hairdressing in Atlantic City. Viola married Jack Desmond, a barber, in 1936, by a Baptist minister. In 1937, Viola returned to Halifax to open Vi’s Studio of Beauty Culture on Gottingen Street which sparked a product line called Vi’s Beauty Products. In addition to the salon, Viola started the Desmond School of Beauty Culture for black female students on the East Coast of Canada. On November 8, 1946, Desmond refused to move from the whites-only section of the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow, an act that resulted in a conviction of tax evasion. She was the first Canadian to receive posthumous pardon and was a significant figure in the rise of the Civil Rights Movement in Canada. She died in New York City on February 7, 1965, at age 50.


Legal status

Functions, occupations and activities

Mandates/sources of authority

Internal structures/genealogy

General context

Relationships area

Access points area

Subject access points

Place access points


Control area

Authority record identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion




Maintenance notes

  • Clipboard

  • Export

  • EAC

Related subjects

Related places