Meet Don and Isobel Maclaurin

Meet Don & Isobel MacLaurin

Painting from her beautiful Westside Road home with a view of Blackcomb Mountain, Isobel and her late husband Don MacLaurin, have called Whistler home for almost 50 years. Their deep connection to Whistler began in the early 1960s, after finding a spot to build their weekend summer cabin. The MacLaurins, who met at a dance in New Brunswick, married in 1958, settled in Port Moody, and began raising their four children — Lee, Jill, Sue and Mark. The Whistler community embraced this vibrant couple who shared their love of painting, dancing, travel, forest sustainability, skiing, hiking, and adventures in their MG. Their passion for Whistler has contributed greatly to the community we know today and Whistler has a lot to thank them for.

Leading the way for artists in the Sea to Sky corridor, Isobel MacLaurin was the first celebrated artist in Whistler. MacLaurin put Whistler artists on the map, contributing as a professional artist and as an instructor teaching children and adults, all the while sharing her passion for art and nature.

Working as a professional artist, Isobel helped the art scene in Whistler find its feet. Having completed three years of formal art studies in New Brunswick, Isobel has been a working artist all her life. Along term Whistler resident, her murals are on Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, on the Valley Trail, in several Whistler parks, at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), in various Burnaby parks, and, internationally, at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, and the Cook Islands. Her interpretive signage with beautiful depictions of animals, flora and fauna can be viewed on Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains and her beautiful flowers adorn the entrance to the Wild Flower restaurant in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. Helicopter flights to the alpine, so Isobel could sketch the landscape for many of Whistler’s interpretive signs are among her most memorable jobs.

Isobel will tell you that she has lived a life of bartering as an artist, often choosing to be paid in experiences, such as; season passes to the mountain for her family, tradeswork on their home, or tickets to join her husband at conferences around the world. In each place they visited together, Isobel could be found sketching under a tree, in a town square, or up in the mountains creating fine art, through “snap shots” in time.

After graduating from the University of New Brunswick with a degree in forestry, feeling the pull to the west coast, Don took a job in Vancouver with the B.C. Forest Service. Don studied both economics and ecology and his work took him on travels around the world, yet some of his biggest impacts would be here in Whistler. He worked, in partnership with the Resort Municipality of Whistler, to identify and preserve important natural ecosystems, writing grants and petitioning the Provincial Government. For decades Don worked tirelessly on the Whistler Interpretive Forest, mapping and developing the trails – such as Riverside Trail, designing tours, and helping people understand the forest and its importance. He also helped to preserve the Ancient Cedars, the Musical Bumps, the Community Forest, and Lost Lake Park, to name just a few. In honor of Don’s contributions, the suspension bridge spanning the Cheakamus River is called MacLaurin’s Crossing. Don also made a 24-year contribution at BCIT designing and teaching courses in forestry, recreation and park management, distance education and the Knowledge Network.

This exhibit is a retrospective of the life and times of Isobel and Don MacLaurin and their influence on the Whistler community. Please join us for a look into the lives of these local legends.