Profile: Betsy Leimbigler

June 20, 2011

Text by Sarah Dion-Marquis.

Photos by James Park.

When asked why a fifth of Americans can’t locate the United States on a world map, Miss Teen South Carolina gave an iconic response in 2007 that people still remember today. “I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some people out there in our nation don’t have maps, and uh, I believe that our education, like such as South Africa, and, uh, Iraq everywhere like such as…”

But Miss Universe® Canada contestant Betsy Leimbigler is not afraid to face those who tend to think only silly girls take part in pageant contests.

“People only hear about the things blowing up in the media,” says Leimbigler. “Being in a pageant is mostly about charity work.”

Walking down the catwalk with a dress and a bathing suit is the first step. If a contestant can’t provide an adequate answer to the jury’s questions in front of the public, her chances of winning any pageant competition are very low.

“People who are judging – well, they don’t know who you are,” says Leimbigler. “They shouldn’t have an impact on you.”

Leimbigler adds that she met contestants from Montreal and other cities who are very intelligent and ambitious. “We’re all breaking the stereotypes.”

At 20-years-old, Leimbigler is one of a kind. Born in St-Jerome, Quebec, she spent a few years in Japan and China with her expatriate Chinese mother, as well as her German and Austrian father. She speaks five languages. “I was born into a family where you speak German, Japanese and Mandarin, and French in the community,” she says.

This spring, she received a bachelor’s honours in social science from the University of Ottawa. Surprisingly, she spent more time working as a Senate page and parliamentary guide than studying at the university in the last four years. She even did the math and says that she spent over 2,000 hours on the Hill and it definitely helped her with public speaking.


Leimbigler’s portoflio shots

Photos courtesy of Betsy Leimbigler.

Cincopa WordPress plugin


Her goal is to become a professor in the field of political studies, an ambassador to Canada or work for an NGO. “I’d like to represent Canada and contribute to making our country a model for promoting literacy and education, and reducing poverty. It’s really what I’ve wanted to do for so long.”

There was a time when Leimbigler was not interested in fashion at all. It all started when she was performing at her school musical in Japan at the age of 14, and someone who worked in the fashion industry approached her. Leimbigler considered the opportunity and started modeling upon her return to Canada. Working with Barrett Palmer Models in Ottawa has taught her self-confidence. At her age, she just can’t be an ambassador yet. But she thinks becoming Miss Canada Universe could help her realize that dream – or at least a part of it. Leimbigler has made it to the Top 50 already, and will be competing to win the title this week.

So far she has already raised over $500 by organizing a chic evening It Takes a Runway to support the non-profit group SOS Children’s Village event at AMH Style in the west-end of the national capital, reuniting its diplomatic and fashion communities.


It Takes a Runway photo gallery

Photos by James Park.

Cincopa WordPress plugin


“We often say it takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a runway to get people from our Ottawa community out to learn more about this charity,” says Lebimbigler.

The 70 guests – including the wives of the Chinese and Czech Republic ambassadors – enjoyed three short fashions shows, featuring the clothing line of local designers Emilia Torabi, Jana Hanzel, Mafia and Leah Christina jewelry.

The audience got to ask Leimbigler some difficult pageant questions, such as whether she thinks we should legalize prostitution in Canada, and if she’d be going back to school to complete a master’s degree were she to win the pageant. She was in control and provided clear, though entertaining answers. On the latter question, she’s thinking of taking a year off university if she wins.

“I deserve it; I’ve been a student for 15 years straight.”

To cast a vote for Canada Miss Universe, please visit


Join In On The Conversation!

Add your comment below, trackback from your own site, or subscribe to these comments via RSS.

One Comment »

  • Beauty and Fashion Charity Gala | Bohemia Magazine said:

    […] An auction took place after the fashion show.  Among the items were a dozen wine bottles, some designer T-shirts and a basket filled with hair products donated by Miss Universe Canada’s Best Hair Award winner Betsy Leimbigler. […]


Recent Topics