Opinion » Alta States

The Marshall sisters

Mountain romantics on a mission


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"When you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, 'Certainly I can!' Then get busy and find out how to do it."

- Theodore Roosevelt

It all started with an invitation. "We don't know each other," the letter-writer began, "but my sister and I have lived in this town for a long time. And it just so happens that we're having a Happy Party at Dusty's on December 12th (12-12-12!) to celebrate living in such a beautiful place and calling it home for all these years. I think you should write about it in your column."

And then, almost as an afterthought — like "Hey — we have a pretty good story to tell too," — she added: "My sister and I have lived in Whistler 30 (Tricia) and 27 (me) years and I have been a wedding planner here for over 20 years ... about to do my 1,000 wedding this next year. If you wanted to ask us about the party or about our lives in Whistler that would be great..."

Sadly, it was too late to promote their Happy Party in this column, but I sensed a good tale in the sisters' Whistler adventures. So I quickly made plans to meet with them. And I'm so glad I did.

There are few people on this planet as upbeat and positive as Linda Marshall and her younger sis, Tricia Field ("We're still known throughout the valley as the Marshall Sisters," confides Tricia. "It's just that I got married along the way.") And there are few people who appear to have such a good time with life as these two siblings. I mean, besides being great friends and (former) business partners, they seem to complement each other so nicely. But I'm getting ahead of myself again. Let's start at the beginning.

It was Tricia — the youngest of the three Victoria-based Marshall sisters — who first settled down in Whistler. "I was attending Camosun College at the time," she says, "and studying in hotel and restaurant management. One of my profs there — Albert Van Citters — would regularly take his students up to Whistler." She stops. Smiles. "And I guess I just fell in love with the place..."

After graduating from the program, Tricia took a job with the Delta chain of hotels. "I worked at the Laurel Point Inn in Victoria," she says, "but what I really wanted was a transfer to Whistler's Delta Mountain Inn." She eventually got her wish. "I had to take a $3/hour cut in pay to do it," she says. And laughs. "But that didn't matter to me. I was moving to Whistler!"

The year was 1982. And times were tough in Sea to Sky country. Whistler was mired deep in a recession; half the buildings in the newly launched town centre had yet to rise from their yawning foundations. But for the 21-year old newcomer, life couldn't get much better. "I just loved Whistler," says Tricia. "I had a job and a place to live, and all sorts of outdoor activities to keep me busy. It was a great new beginning."