Lana was born in April, 1975 in San Francisco to a well-established and connected family. Her parents, Richard and Claire, are one of The Bay’s elite couples. Richard is an estate planner, tax attorney and leader in the arts and philanthropic community. He is an avid sailor and member of the St. Francis Yacht Club. Claire is Master Gardener and a regular volunteer with San Francisco Botanical Garden. She is also a marvelous baker, having studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. They are art collectors and great readers.
Lana attended Burke’s, an all-girls K-8 private school, followed by San Francisco University High School. She has an older brother, Graham, or Gray, as he is called. He attended UC Hastings, College of Law. Like his father, he is a member of the same yacht club and a serious sailor.
The Westbrooks are well travelled and have taken Lana and Graham with them on many European trips. Their destinations are always centered on art galleries and museums, architecture and splendid gardens. In the winter, they ski at Davos Klosters.
Lana had helped her mother in the kitchen at every opportunity and shown a flair for baking. Upon graduation in 1992, Mr. & Mrs. Westbrook and Lana fly to Vancouver to visit friends – Anne and Paul Sinclair. Lana and Charlotte Sinclair, 19, hit it off. She is enrolled at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design focusing on fabric art. She is also a pianist and choir member.
There is a brother, Alex, but he is off somewhere. Lana just sees photos of him and a friend taken at Whistler. She says the friend, Niall Townsend, is a “bit of a dish,” but Charlotte says he’s too much of a charmer. Too taken with himself.
That fall (1992 – 17 years old) Lana enrols at UCSF. She doesn’t know what she wants to do so she just takes a liberal arts program. At 21 she graduates. For the next several months, she is at loose ends. She returns to Vancouver to visit Charlotte where she bakes something for the Sinclair family. Charlotte’s mother, Anne, raves about it. Says she has a real talent. One day, Lana is in the kitchen with her mother talking about her future. She likes several different things but can’t see herself focusing on anything. Her mother is decorating a cake and Lana just steps in and continues as her mother does something else. Claire suddenly realizes that her daughter’s true vocation might be as a pâtissière.
They talk it over and Claire suggests she go to Paris and study there. “Are you serious?” The classes are in French but translated into English. However, Lana studied French all through elementary and high school and speaks it with her mother now and then. They start the process of enrolling. The classes start in the fall.
So at 23 she is off to Paris with her parents who settle her into an apartment in the 17th arrondissement. They introduce her to some of Claire’s friends who will be available to help her with anything she needs. With all of her travelling, she is not worldly wise when it comes to street smarts.
She starts her Basic Patisserie course in September. It ends in November. There is a break of six weeks. She comes home to spend Christmas and also takes a trip to Vancouver to visit Charlotte and to go skiing in Whistler. This is when she meets Charlotte’s brother, Alex, and his friend, Niall. Sparks sort of fly. Charlotte once again warns Lana off. But it’s moot as she’s off back to Paris
She turns 24 during the Superior course. In June she receives her Grand Diploma. Before returning to San Francisco, she travels around the U.K. with an English classmate and also meets up with a pen pal.
She returns home in August where she impresses her parents with her cooking and baking. Her father suggests they throw a dinner party and she can do the meal. So that day comes, and who should be a guest but the owner of a top restaurant Michel Gerard of Chez Gerard? He is so bowled over he wants to hire her. But she says she wants to take a break. He said whenever she’s ready. She is not sure she wants to work in a restaurant. She thinks she wants to teach.
In October she goes to Vancouver again and stays with Charlotte, who takes her to École Gastronomique a wonderful cooking school where she is celebrating her birthday by having a cooking class. It’s something the school does. The chefs who are showing them what to do are immediately aware that Lana is a trained chef. Charlotte tells them that Lana is a certified pâtissière. They say they are looking for someone. She says she is American. They tell her there is a special visa for high-skilled jobs that can’t be filled by Canadians. They have been unable to find that person. Would she be interested?
She jumps at the chance. Then the hoops start with Canada Immigration. It takes six months, but she gets her visa and leaves for Vancouver in May just after her 24th birthday in 2000. At first she stays at the Townsend’s then she gets her own place. – just something small until she gets settled. Charlotte in the meantime, has decided to marry. He is a designer and has a small space on Granville Island. They will never be wealthy but Charlotte doesn’t care. They both love what they do. Lana is one of Charlotte’s wedding attendants. It’s a June wedding.
Of course, Niall is at the wedding. She is smitten. He has a nonchalant way about him that she finds intriguing. He plays the piano – mostly jazz – and entertains everyone. At the time he is 30 and an Associate Professor of Economics. Charlotte warns Lana once again that he is not to be trusted.
In September of 2001, Lana starts her job and doesn’t really have time for Niall just then, but he persists. He takes her to concerts, both classical and jazz. He invites her to his apartment, which isn’t too far from hers. She notices that one of the bedrooms is decorated for a child. He says he has a son who is six. He never married the mother, who lives close by.
He is very busy with his work, doing research, writing and submitting papers, and spends a lot of time with his students.
They don’t live together but it’s almost as if they do. The boy, Jonathan, doesn’t like her. He has come to spend time with his father at Christmas and he is very rude to her. Niall doesn’t step in to say anything and she is quite shocked. Later she mentions it. He says he lets Jonathan be himself and to say what he wants. He will “grow out of it.” She doesn’t believe in that kind of child rearing.
They have wonderful dinner parties. Lots of faculty and students. The young women are drawn to him. When he has a sabbatical coming up in June, he asks her to go with him to Tokyo. She agrees as her classes are over for the summer. While there, she studies ikebana and has fun learning Japanese and polishing up the English of the wives of the professors at the university. Because he is tall, fair and handsome, he is made a fuss of. Then he is invited to a mens-only geisha party. Lana doesn’t mind much, but when he doesn’t come home until the next day, she is angry. He said he just passed out, like a lot of the other men there. Everyone in Japan drinks too much.
When she is back teaching and things are settling down, she wonders about children. Her mother is pestering her. But she’s not sure about Niall. She doesn’t go with him on his next sabbatical to South Africa. And she finds she is happier without him. She has made friends, goes to concerts and enjoys Vancouver life.
They start to grow apart. In 2010 (age 35) she discovers a condom packed among his toiletries as he prepares for an overnight trip to Victoria to give a speech. She decides she has had enough and tells him it is over.
She confides in Charlotte, who suggests that they go to some quiet resort on one of the Gulf Islands for a few days. It’s summer break. They travel to a few of the islands then wind up in Britannia Bay. She loves the town. It’s peaceful and charming and reminds her of her travels through England.
They go to Catalani’s for dinner and she is surprised at the menu and the quality of the food. When they inquire about dessert, Georgina Rossini apologizes that their pastry chef has left and so there is not much choice that evening. Afterwards, the two of them look around town. They peek in the window of the real estate office at the houses for sale. Lana notices an abundance of nice homes at far cheaper prices than in Vancouver. She thinks it would be a lovely place to live.
That’s how Lana wound up in Britannia Bay in April, 2011 at the age of 36.
And now you know much more about Lana than do the towns people.