47: Sept 6, 2004
BBCanada.com's 10th Anniversary
days, there's a plethora of Bed and Breakfast websites on the Internet.
But ten years ago, doing a Yahoo search for Canadian B&Bs rarely
yielded more than ten results. Anxious that these wonderful establishments
not be stranded or lost on the 'Information Superhighway', Doug White
and J.D. Robbins created Canada's first (and now largest) Bed and Breakfast
Web Server. In this tenth anniversary newsletter, BBCanada.com co-founder
Doug White talks about the early days and demonstrates how far the site
has come in member size, media exposure, and range of services to subscribers.
late August of 1994 I said to J.D., "Here's what we're going to
do. He said, "Cool". BBCanada.com was born in a driveway in about
idea had been germinated and grown in discussions with B&B owners
John Wallace and Bob King. (Dozens of others helped but I'll restrict
names to the very first two owners) We had stayed with John and June
Wallace in Osoyoos in 1994. John and I spoke of retiring from teaching.
He spoke of his B&B retirement project; I talked about the Internet.
We agreed that a site for B&Bs could be both useful and inexpensive.
The seed was planted. A couple of weeks later, while at a Square Dance,
we stayed with Bob and Charlene King in Newboro, Ontario. Bob immediately
grasped the concept and ideas flowed long into the night. He took out
some money and put it on his table. Our first paying customer! Bob also
organized an association meeting in his house. It was the first of scores
that Annabelle and I attended.
web site was up and running January 1995. In 1995 the World Wide Web
was a fractured, disjointed collection that lacked content. BBCanada.com
was quickly discovered and appreciated for what it was; a simple, direct,
easy to navigate site packed with highly organized information. It attracted
the attention of many: I-Net (Sympatico), the Wave (Roger's Cable),
the Conference Board of Canada (Marketing on the Internet), CBC, CTV,
many newspapers, journals and magazines. All agreed that there was nothing
quite like it on the net.
the tools available to J.D. in 1995 were rudimentary, he designed a
database driven template site. Although many scoffed at our approach
as impractical, it's now widely imitated. When developing BBCanada.com's
appearance, J.D. hired an excellent graphic designer to create the famous
"Flag Maps" and amenities icons! Thanks, Dave!
August 22,1997, BBDUG was launched. In addition to allowing for self-update,
every technical aspect of the site was changed. (The Database was moved
to Access, code was now written in Cold Fusion, operating system was
now NT, and Apache was our new web server. A host of detail!) On the
day of the 'big changeover', we sat in J.D.'s apartment, sweating from
both the heat and apprehension. J.D. said to Annabelle and I, "There's
no going back." We watched the dying 'pings' of the old site. Seconds
passed and new site 'pinged' to life. J.D. had the biggest grin I've
ever seen. He was rightfully proud.
the web site in different years. (Click links to see screenshots)
Ten years later, Annabelle and I continue to tirelessly promote BBCanada.com
and the B&Bs of Canada. J.D. never stops 'tweaking' the site and
the servers. About 2.4 million lines of code support the BBCanada site
and its related infrastructure.
constantly upgrade hardware and server software. Long ago we switched
to SQL Server. Our current three servers FTP, Mail, and Web Server are
identical. They were installed June of 2004. A complete set of replacement
parts is on hand, all are housed in rack-mounted cases, all run redundant
disc drives- (Raid 0/1), a two hour battery power supply and a 4500
watt onsite generator ensure near perfect 'up time'. The servers are
monitored by web cams and web based re boot devices. We have a 100mb
fiber optic cable as our Internet connection. A far cry from 1995 when
we had a disk drive hung onto a server operated by a third party. To
make updates J.D. had to (by telephone) at 2:00 AM rewrite the entire
data file. Towards the end it was taking up to 45 minutes.
year we will have about 25,000 daily visitors to BBCanada.com. They
download between 6 and 9 gigabytes of data a day!
commitment to both users and clients is our strength.
team has grown over the years. Rose Keefe, our Association representative
and special projects manager, is well known to many of you. Adriane
Rock, our information officer, is responsible for the completeness and
integrity of our database. Cathy McGowan welcomes inquiries in both
official languages. They are models of courtesy, efficiency, and patience.
Falcone, our graphics wizard, created the maps currently on the site.
Whenever necessary, he adds little dots on maps to locate any towns
that are new to our database.
insistence on excellence, detail, and process provide the bedrock on
which BBCanada.com is built.
magic code will soon bring several new features to BBCanada.com this fall. If
you have requests please let us know. He has a 'job jar' that never
seems to empty. Requests are always considered.
continues to chat, to plan, to present, to dream.
the staff and spouses immediately after our 10th anniversary gala.
Doug, Terry, Cathy, Rose, Gabe, Adriane, JD
and the BBCanada.com
Newboro House B&B
Charlene King, Newboro House
this occasion, Doug and Annabelle White were guests in our Bed &
Breakfast. Doug and wife were on their way square dancing in Maberly
and Newboro House was the nearest B & B they could find..
evening, as we were all sitting around chatting, discussion arose over
the difficulty for the traveling public finding any information about
B&B accommodations. At this time there were no current publications
or listings of bed and breakfast establishments available. Doug came
up with the thought of developing an electronic program to list and
advertise our B & Bs. With computers fast becoming a household item
and the potential to eventually expand to other regions of Canada and
maybe the world, discussion soon gave way to unanimous enthusiasm. It
was decided that upon Doug's return to Ottawa he would prepare a package
along the lines of our discussion and make a presentation to any interested
B&B operators in our neighborhood. In the meantime, Charlene and
I contacted as many B&B operators as we could find, even going as
far as Kingston, and invited them to this upcoming presentation from
Doug, which was held at our B&B. We, at Newboro House, bought into
this proposal immediately and suggested that Doug give this same presentation
at our B&B association annual general meeting (FOBBA) in November.
The idea was now taking hold, and it was timely, as Doug White's high
school teaching career was winding down and he was looking for some
vocation to supplement his passion for Alpine Skiing.
and BBCanada.com have come a long way since his early radio interview
for all the support over the years, Doug. Much of our good repeat business
today came to us initially through BBCanada. Our next challenge is to
sell and relocate to a warmer climate?????.
Bob and Charlene King
you for the phone call about the starting of BBCanada. Yes, you were
correct: your visit was on the 23 July 1994. You were teaching computers
to older students and I had just retired after 35 years of the battle
of wits in the classroom...
topic of the Internet arose when we discussed B&Bs having a site.
You excitedly said, "Thank you, now I know what I will do after
teaching", and the idea of BBCanada was born. Enclosed is a picture
of you and Annabelle taken on the old deck. You mentioned that you used
the picture to promote BBCanada. The area where you are standing is
now part of our Sun Room where we serve breakfast when we cannot serve
our guests on the deck. I have talked to several B&Bs in Nova Scotia
and they all praise BBCanada.
John and June Wallace
Haynes Point Lakeside Guest House
Annabelle White at Haynes Point Lakeside Guest House