– by Chloe Hale –
Beauty Queen contests are competitions not purely based on appearance but also personality, confidence, intelligence and talent. Revisiting Sidney’s very own beauty queen contest, Miss Sidney, we see that all the young women crowned over the past 100 years showed a unique self and represented Sidney in a positive light. During the Miss Sidney competition, contestants were asked to deliver a speech, showcase a talent – usually singing, dancing or acting – and participate in a fashion show.
In 1912, Margaret Simister (pictured) was the first young lady to be crowned Miss Sidney. Originally from England, Margaret was a bright and independent woman. Excelling in school, she competed in the Sidney Games, showcasing her athletic nature. In 1917, Margaret passed her teacher’s examination and began her teaching career. She then taught at many different locations on Vancouver Island and the Mainland. Making appearances at later Miss Sidney contests, she also had the honour of being the hostess at the past Queen’s luncheon in 1958. In 1927, Margaret married Jim O’Keefe, who owned a farm in the Cariboo. She was actively engaged in herding cattle, and was known as a rancher’s wife.
Another Miss Sidney, Linda Douma put the town of Sidney on the map by becoming Miss Canada in 1965. Linda was born in Tofino, moving to Sidney as an infant where she attended the local schools. Continuing her studies at University of Victoria, Linda took a year off to attend the Miss Canada beauty contest in Toronto. As a result of being crowned, she travelled around Canada and worldwide, including India and Australia, representing Canada.
Shannon Pearson was crowned Miss Sidney in 1988, entering the pageant to keep a friend company and indulge her love of being in the public eye. Shannon attended parades and luncheons, being sure to give her youthful opinion while remaining polite and kind. As Miss Sidney and representing the town, she attended community activities such as Sidney Days. Shannon (now Pearson-Hall) continues to work within the beauty industry with her home business Anam Cara Spa + Beauty Bar, providing a range of services from facials to makeup artistry.
The last to be crowned Miss Sidney was Leigh-Anne Hughes in 1989. She was so popular among her fellow contestants she was proclaimed Miss Congeniality. Before moving to Sidney, Leigh-Anne graduated from George Dawson Secondary in the Queen Charlotte Islands, and enjoyed singing, playing guitar and participating in peer counselling. Since her crowning, there has been no further Miss Sidneys crowned. In 1990, four former Miss Sidneys, including Hughes and Pearson, volunteered to be on the Sidney float in the Victoria Day Parade.
The ultimate question: should the Town of Sidney bring back the Miss Sidney contest? Shannon Pearson-Hall believes it should as “it was a great way to learn etiquette, responsibility and poise as a young lady as well as respect for the elder in the community.” Perhaps in the upcoming years we may revisit Sidney’s past and crown another Miss Sidney.
Chloe Hale is a Sidney Archives Volunteer.