Opinion » Alta States

A raucous lunch across the tracks — Don and Isobel revealed



"Your character is your destiny."

- Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher

Hard to know where to start when you have such a vast palette of anecdotes to recount.

Do I begin with Don's crazy cross-country epic from New Brunswick to BC in 1951 on a Triumph Speed twin motorcycle purchased from Crazy Canuck Dave Murray's dad Bill? Think about the hard miles covered on such a trip. Think about the discomforts too. After all, in those days Canada didn't even have a highway that went from sea-to-sea — MacLaurin had to cross the U.S. instead. It's a great story.

"It was lot of fun," says Don. "Bill was my best friend at university. A great guy." He pauses for a breath. "The biggest adventure, however, was saved for the return journey." He chuckles quietly. "We did it together, you know — on the same motorcycle. In September-October. We were quite the sight: me, 5'8'' on a good day, and Bill over six feet tall. And we alternated the driving chores! Now that was a trip..."

What he doesn't mention (and doesn't want me to mention) is that Dave Murray might have never reached the ski racing heights he did without a certain call Don made to his father in 1962. "Well," he admits, "I did encourage Bill to buy a lot at Whistler after we did. And he trusted my judgment." This, remember, was before any lift had been built on the mountain. The MacLaurins were living in a tent then. Trust indeed. "We were pretty good pals," says Don. "Bill knew I had his best interests at heart. As it turns out, our two families — nine children in total! — virtually grew up together on this side of the lake..."

Isobel can't help it. She has to throw in her two cents. "And Dave was a lousy babysitter," she says with that special glint in her eye. "Every time we came home the house would be a mess. There'd be pillows everywhere. It was like they'd been doing extreme gymnastics or something..."

But that's just the tip of the storytelling glacier.

What about those spring camping trips the couple took to Mt. Baker in their candy-red MG back when Whistler Mountain was still just a glint in ol' Wilhelmsen's eye? Feast your eyes on this young couple. She in belly top and shorts — fit and smiling and sexy as all get-out — while he leans against the car, proud and happy and tough and competent. An old khaki frame pack leans haphazardly in the back of the sports car. The snowbanks are huge.

"We loved those trips," says the always-effervescent Izzie, as she pulls picture after picture out of their various albums. "Skiing was such an adventure in the 1950s." She laughs. Winks. "We were fun too..."

I bet.

Maybe I should just wade right in and tell the story of the Celtic wake the MacLaurins held in March last yearfor themselves at Our Lady Of The Mountains Parish Hall. As Isobel puts it so well: "Why wait till you're dead to celebrate your life? I wanted to hear what people had to say about me in person."

Of course, you can't have a wake without a coffin. And the MacLaurins' celebration was no exception.

"About five years ago," recounts Isobel, "I told Don: 'Why don't we buy our coffins now.' So that's what we did," She takes a breath. Giggles like a little girl. "I was looking at the $20,000 coffins and thinking: 'Wow — these are beautiful.' But those weren't ours. We got the $500 pine versions instead..."

No matter. When you have an artist in the house with the kind of creative energy that Izzie possesses, even a cheap $500 coffin can be transformed into a magical container.

Say what? "I wanted to personalize them," she says, with tongue held only slightly in cheek. "I wanted them to represent who we are."