The University Women’s Club of Maple Ridge puppet group in the early 1980s.

Recalling the University Women’s Club

University Women’s Club left a legacy of proceeds from sale of its history of Maple Ridge.

When Marian Mussallem died on Aug. 4 in Richmond, she was well remembered by many friends and relatives in Maple Ridge.

She had lived here with her late husband Peter Mussallem for many years and been an active part of several groups in the community.

Marian (nee Robinson) grew up in Esquimalt, a suburb of Victoria on Vancouver Island.  A brilliant student, she went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in chemistry at UBC in 1942, followed by a Master’s degree in 1944.  This was an unusual ambition for a woman at this time, when fields of study most commonly chosen were teaching, nursing or secretarial work.

As a university graduate, Marian joined the University Women’s Club of Maple Ridge. She had not been part of the group when it wrote and published Maple Ridge – A History of Settlement in 1972.

Another University Club member, Daphne Sleigh, was the first curator of the Maple Ridge Museum, at a time when it was housed in the library in the Centennial building.

When Louise Poole inspired the University Women’s Club to begin a puppetry project, Marion Mussallem became an active member.

Louise wrote the scripts for a series of puppet plays, some based on stories such as Cinderella, and some original. She had often written plays for a drama group when she had been an English teacher at Maple Ridge High School. Group members crafted hand puppets, learned their lines, and practiced moving around the stage.

These puppet plays were performed for many local organizations, and frequently to school groups. The women also conducted puppet workshops for students, giving them a chance to handle the puppets and put together a short play of their own. Three of the most popular plays performed by the University Women were episodes from Winnie the Pooh.

The more elaborate puppet plays required a larger stage than the first one used. Marion with the help of her husband Peter designed and built a new stage, which had the advantage of being portable in pieces in the back of a station wagon.  Part of the entertainment was the sight of five or six women putting the new stage together complete with curtains, before each presentation.

Today’s photo, taken in the early 1980s, shows members of the puppet group on their way to present a play to another university women’s club in Kelowna.

Picnicking in Manning Park on their way to the Okanagan are from left to right: Marion Mussallem, Vienna Cameron, Sheila Nickols, Louise Poole, Daphne Sleigh, Thelma Greenwell and Margaret Smith.

The puppet group continued to perform their plays until ill health forced Louise to retire.

The puppet scripts and puppets were all given to the Maple Ridge Museum, where they were on display for a time.

When the Maple Ridge branch of the University Women’s Club closed down, it left a legacy of the proceeds from sale of its history of Maple Ridge, along with the remaining copies from the fifth reprinting.

The Maple Ridge Historical Society has plans to reprint it again before the stock runs out.


– Sheila Nickols is past president of the Maple Ridge Historical Society.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Outpouring of generosity for Christmas Hamper Society after safe stolen

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows group has recouped stolen $10,000 several times over

Seniors Food Bank starting again in Maple Ridge

The service will be offered every Monday

First rainstorm of the season pelting the Lower Mainland

Batten down the hatches as heavy rains, wind, and some localized flooding possible

Liberals vow wage-subsidy extension to 2021, revamp of EI system in throne speech

Canadian labour market was hammered by pandemic, when lockdowns in the spring led to a loss of 3 million jobs

Horgan blasts B.C. Greens for refusing youth overdose detention

Lack of support key to B.C. election call, NDP leader says

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

Abbotsford youth launches mental health awareness page

Abby Senior student Mia Skoone aims to provide information with @mentalhealth4youth account

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP investigating man reportedly hiking nude on Summerland’s Full Frontal trail

Potential charges against the man could include indecent exposure.

Grand jury indicts police officer in Breonna Taylor death

Officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment

Most Read