David Mussallem and Miriam McDonald Macdougall (left photo) pose for a picture on Saturday

Mission Strawberry Queen, racer reunite for photo 66 years later

Miriam McDonald Macdougall and David Mussallem were both at last weekend's races and recreated a moment from 1950.

It was back in 1950 when Miriam McDonald Macdougall was crowned as the Strawberry Festival Queen in Mission.

One of the 16-year-old’s duties was to attend the annual soap box derby and hand out the trophies to the winners.

Macdougall, who was joined by Penticton’s Peach Queen and Chilliwack’s Cherry Queen, was all smiles when she presented the awards.

One of the recipients was a jubilant 12-year-old racer named David Mussallem, from Maple Ridge. The two posed for pictures for the media.

Now, 66 years later, Macdougall and Mussallem were both back at Mission’s soapbox derby, to recreate that moment and bring back plenty of memories.

Macdougall’s family arranged for the meeting as a surprise and Mussallem was happy to play along. They found a cape and a tiara and recreated the special moment.

“It was a surprise. I didn’t know why I was going,” said Macdougall, 83, who now lives in West Vancouver.

“It was just an awful lot of fun. My old friends came and some girls that I went to school with turned up. It was delightful.”

And Mussallem was there with plenty of memorabilia including the trophy, hat and other items.

“I had a couple of old newspapers stuffed in a brown paper bag, but he had everything,” she said.

Taking part in the event on Saturday was a nostalgic experience for Mussallem.

“I had a box full of stuff I dug out and it brought back a whole bunch of memories,” he said.

He said the race was a much bigger event in the 1950s.

“I think it was the biggest event in B.C. other than the PNE.”

He said racers would come from all over to compete.

“We had a great contingent of kids from Maple Ridge building cars and racing in Mission. In fact, Maple Ridge won it for three years in a row.”

Mussallem believes the cars were faster back in his day when the competitors were older. In the 1950s, racers ranged in age from 11 to 15 and they really soared down the road, he said.

Macdougall agrees that the derby used to be a much bigger event, but as a native of Mission, she’s glad it is still around.


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