Doug and Mary Forseth
Like many of the people who pioneered, shaped, built and nourished Whistler, Mary and Doug Forseth’s roots stretch south of the border. And like many of those people, once they got a taste of Whistler, a hint of what it could become and how they could help it get there, they put down new roots… deep roots… forever roots.
The beginning of their love affair with Whistler began shortly after Doug was transferred to Vancouver as general manager of the Hyatt Regency Hotel early in 1985. Whatever they might have known about Vancouver was more than they knew about Whistler. But if they didn’t believe in love at first sight before journeying up to the nascent resort, they certainly believed in it afterward.
The arc of their affair followed a familiar pattern: weekend warriors, a shared cabin, their first Whistler chalet/home just in time for the 1986/87 ski season, and then, the lifelong plunge.
It came in 1994 when Doug left the Hyatt to help steer Whistler Mountain towards its ultimate destiny: Whistler Blackcomb. While the prospect of abandoning a 24 year career may have been daunting for some, Doug and Mary didn’t hesitate — they knew Whistler would be their lifelong home.
The mountains, the lifestyle offered by Whistler’s natural environment, the amazing people they’d met and fast friendships they’d made reinforced their belief that this was a very special place. It didn’t take long to notice perhaps the most unique and profound aspect of the town: Like themselves, virtually everyone living here has chosen to live here. That was a common touchstone among what became a wonderful collection of friends, people who call Whistler home and have been drawn here — to live or to play repeatedly — from far and wide.
Doug threw himself into the business of Whistler Mountain and later, Whistler Blackcomb as a key member of the senior leadership team. He was active in Rotary, sat on Tourism Whistler’s board, was a founding director of the Whistler Centre for Sustainability, the Dave Murray National Training Centre, Whistler Learning Centre and ONE Whistler. His unifying characteristics across work and volunteer efforts has been those of a dependable friend, good neighbour, involved citizen and trusted business partner.
Settling in Whistler meant new opportunities for Mary to pursue a passion for the Arts. After working at the Adele Campbell Fine Arts Gallery for over a decade, she seized the opportunity to become a co-owner. She was instrumental in tapping her U.S. roots — and those of others drawn to Whistler — as board member and most recently executive director of The American Friends of Whistler, whose philanthropic works have enhanced many of the town’s bedrock institutions. She sat on the board of Whistler Animals Galore, has been active with the Whistler Valley Quilting Guild for 20 years and been part of an almost legendary book club for nearly as long.
Both Mary and Doug walk the talk; they believe being active in the community through volunteer organizations is, well, just the right thing to do. “The positive changes made through collective efforts and the numerous friendships that develop working for a common goal add a social dimension to life in Whistler that fulfills a personal need of belonging,” is how they put it.
With new roots too deep to ever sever, it’s Whistler now and forever.
Or by referring Sea to Sky residents who are graduating and pursuing post-secondary education in field related to tourism and hospitality to the Doug and Mary Forseth Scholarship application.