It is with great sadness that I announce to you the passing of Doug White, co-founder of BBCanada.com and tireless advocate for Bed and Breakfasts in Canada. Doug died in Dundas, Ontario on September 14th, 2014.
For over 12 years, Doug was the face of BBCanada. He met with association groups, individual owners and traveled the country promoting the industry and our website. In 2006, Doug and his wife decided to take full retirement. Since then, they had spent their time enjoying their family and friends, square dancing and traveling.
Back in 1994, Doug proposed the idea to me of developing a website to advertise B&Bs across Canada while standing in his laneway in Ottawa, Ontario. I agreed immediately and in January 1995 we launched BBCanada.
I thought it would be fitting to explain to you about the genesis of BBCanada in Doug's own words from an article he wrote back in 2004:
"The idea for BBCanada had germinated and grown in discussions with B&B owners John Wallace and Bob King. Dozens of others helped of course but these two are the ones that I remember the most. We had stayed with John and June Wallace in Osoyoos in 1994. John and I had spoken of retiring from teaching. John 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 I attended.
The web site was up and running January 1995. In 1995 the World Wide Web was a fractured, disjointed collection that lacked content. BBCanada 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.
Our commitment to both bbowners and bbvisitors is our strength.
Thanks to all!
Doug White "
I had first met Doug in 1985 when I was a high school student and he taught my computer programming class. I remember his class vividly as one of my favourite courses of all time. I always hurried to get to his class early to chat with him and lingered around as long as I could after class. He often allowed me to carry around his 'luggable computer' which felt like a great honour to me. It was one of the first moveable PCs that allowed me to help with marking students, printing assignments, scoring Ski-Club races and which taught me the basics of database and spreadsheet design.
Doug had a unique style of teaching through story telling including many admonitions that have proved helpful in my adult life. His stories were always fascinating and joyous. One of the most important things he ever said to me was: "You likely will find yourself in a job 10 to 20 years from now that you can't possibly imagine exists today. Embrace the future. "
Many years later I did come to realize that in his lesson he had been teaching me to say goodbye: goodbye to calculators, typewriters and hand written term papers. Goodbye to travel books, CDROMs and letter mail. In embracing the future, we all need to be able to let go of the past.
After Doug retired in 2006, we had lost touch. He had moved on to the next stage of his life while I continued to work for BBCanada. While he was off exploring remote parts of the planet, I had started a family and was chasing around a 4 year old. It saddens me greatly that Doug and I were not involved in each other's lives the way we once were when we were younger. I had lost my mentor and friend. I realize now that this was his way of telling me to "Embrace the future" as he wouldn't be going forward into the future with me. In Doug's thoughtful and gentle way, it was his way of saying goodbye.
October 8, 2014