Renowned seamstress receives prestigious medal

Mia Larsen Diamond Jubilee Medal

Mia Larsen has been a tailor for the Canadian Forces for 50 years. On Feb. 26 she received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal from Premier Christy Clark at the Empress Hotel for her lifetime contribution.

In 1963 Mia Larsen sewed her first stitch on a military uniform at a shop in Work Point. From that point until now, a 50-year span, she’s tailored thousands of uniforms and mounted hundreds of medals.

In recognition of this dedicated service of ensuring military personnel look their best, she received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal from Premier Christy Clarke last Tuesday.

“The fact that my staff thought enough of me to think I deserved this was very heart warming,” said Larsen. “I was shaking so hard I could hardly read the letter that came to my home, and after I read it I cried for a long time when I learned about receiving this medal.”

Her three employees nominated her, feeling strongly that she fit the criteria of an outstanding, deserving individual.

“We wanted to nominate Mia because she has been doing this so long and has mounted so many medals. We thought wouldn’t it be nice to see her issued one herself,” said long-time employee Donna Bird.

Larsen still uses her original Singer sewing machine that is now 56 years old.

“It is like everything else, if you look after it and take care of it, it will last you a lifetime,” she says.

Five decades ago, 30-year-old Mia apprenticed with master tailor Margaret West.

“She was a top-notch sewer and taught me everything I know.” 

Larsen bought the business 13 years later when West retired. Eventually the store moved from Work Point to its current CANEX location, and slowly Larsen began to hire staff to fill the demand.

This summer, she’ll celebrate 80, and with that she’ll make her final stitch.

“After working for so many years it’s hard to think of not coming to work and interacting with these people,” she says. “I like the people best in this job.”

Some clients she sees 10 times a month, and others she’s known for 30 years.

“I would like to thank my staff for their thought of doing this. I still get tears in my eyes when I think about it,” she says.

Larsen will mount and frame her medal in a photo box in the tailor shop for her clients to see.

-Shelley Lipke, Staff Writer

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  1. PO1 Keith M. Cadwell says:

    Congratulations on receiving your QJM. You always have a smile for everyone that comes in to your short. Thank you for your service.

  2. Sgt Ken Hackshaw, 443(MH) Sqn says:

    A Heartful Congratulations to my “go to girl” and long time friend. God Bless to you and your expert staff.

  3. MWO Heidi Twellmann says:

    Congratulations to Mia! This was extremely well-deserved! She has helped keep us CF musicians looking great for many years. I’d like to thank her for all her hard work and dedication and for completing so many last-minute requests! Great story!
    MWO Heidi Twellmann
    RCAF Band
    (former member of the Naden Band)

  4. J. Paul Lang says:

    Mia is such a deserving person and a premier example of what this medal represents: service to Canada. Congratulations are heartily extended, and on a personal note, thank you for all the times you mounted my medals, took in my tunic, let it out, let it out some more, took it back in.

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