Isobel MacLaurin is one of the first people I met when I moved to Whistler and she is certainly one of the most memorable.
She has been described as “vivacious” more times than I’ve had hot dinners and this is no better demonstrated than through the gold jumpsuit she wore when she and her husband Don, collected the Citizen of the Year award in 1992. When asked about this, she laughs heartily and says “Oh! That ungodly outfit!”
The MacLaurins bought their land on Alpha Lake in 1963, where they still live today, delighting in the fact that their old A-frame, which they built themselves, is now alongside several huge mansions.
Isobel recalls: “In the early ‘60s we could have chosen many areas here, but with our cabin on Alpha Lake, and the alpine glow on Whistler Mountain, it’s been quite a paradise.”
Isobel is an accomplished artist whose work has been displayed in many places, both locally and internationally. Her paintings were prominently displayed in the original Whistler Roundhouse and are still to be seen on interpretive signs on the mountain and all around the valley.
As the only artist in the area when Whistler Mountain was first opened, Isobel found herself in great demand hand-painting posters for World Cup Races, inscribing scrolls and making signs. She recalls with glee how in the early days of Whistler Mountain she painted all the ski run signs, which got her and her whole family season’s passes – year after year.
Her home boasts a beautiful studio, with spectacular views of the mountains, however this wasn’t always the case. A lot of her work in the early days was done in the living room or out on the deck in a bikini – allowing Isobel to develop a fabulous tan.
The long wait has made her even more appreciative of her studio: “I’ve had young artists looking in it, bless their hearts, you could see the envy in the eyes! As soon as I told them that it took me 35 years to get it, and they’re 25 years old, they felt much better!”
Isobel is also wonderful with kids – you wouldn’t know it from her petite figure but she has four children, so she has had plenty of practice. This Saturday (Aug. 4) Isobel will be at the Whistler Museum as part of our Family Saturdays series. She will be teaching sketching and watercolour to kids age six and upwards starting at 2:30 p.m. The cost is included in the admission to the museum, but please book in advance as there are limited spaces for this event.
Sarah Drewery is executive director for the Whistler Museum.