Valentines Day 2017
Celebrating Industry Couples: Jill Wykes & Pierre LePage

Open Jaw

Long known on the Canadian travel scene, Jill Wykes (now retired from Thomas Cook and running Wykes Label Communications) and Pierre LePage (Executive Director of CATO) spoke to me from their winter home in Sarasota, Florida. 

How did you meet? Jill:  Back in the 80s I was the editor of TravelWeek and while I’d “met” Pierre over the phone in his ACTA role – he was living in Saskatchewan -  we’d never met in person. We finally did, at a dinner at the ACTA conference in Athens.  

Your first impressions? Pierre: We were both married at the time, and each had two kids about the same ages. We hit it off and became good friends. Jill: He’s a wonderful piano player and one night in Athens I could hear music from the mezzanine level at the hotel and it was him playing, surrounded by 35 drunk and adoring travel agents. I plunked myself on the piano bench next to him and when he told me yes, he could play The Girl From Ipanema I was impressed. 

Do you remember your first date? Jill: It was after we had both separated. He was coming through Toronto and I asked him to dinner, but would be home a bit later so I left him the key. By the time I got home he had repaired the screen door and cleaned up the barbecue.  That’s when I decided he’s the guy! 

What was your wedding like? Pierre:  It was an industry event. We got married in church, but for the reception, as we had a brand new house we decided to do the back yard thing, building a gazebo and deck with the money we would have spent on a hotel reception. A lot of industry people and colleagues – about 140 in all! 

Where did you go on your honeymoon? Jill: This has been the story of my marriage to Pierre. We did have a four night mini-honeymoon in Haliburton but followed it up with a group cruise with the National Tour Association.  Pierre: Why would you not agree to an all-inclusive cruise? 

What’s the most romantic destination you’ve travelled to?Pierre: Well, Athens would have to be right up there. Jill: We actually went back and went to the hotel where we met! Pierre:  There are so many spots in Europe. We love travel and cuisine. 

Do you recommend marrying someone who works in the same industry as you do?Pierre: It makes conversation easy to come by and creates a common understanding and makes life together more comfortable in many ways. Jill: Being my second marriage and later in life, it is very comfortable. I can’t imagine dramas and challenges at this stage in life, the fact we are both in the same industry gave us a huge thinking in common.       

Are there any cons? Jill: Several times in our marriage we’ve had to have a “Chinese wall” in our house, respecting things that cannot be talked about. Sometimes I was privy to info that Pierre wasn’t, or vice versa, or we’d be competitors in sales roles so we’ve had to ethically figure that out.  But we’ve been easy about that. 

How will you be spending Valentine’s Day this year? Jill: We’ll be in Toronto, likely at my son’s restaurant Rasa.  And we’ll see lots of family. Pierre: Yes, we’ve got five grandchildren now and are awaiting our sixth – family is really important to us.

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