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31. Chebucto: 10 years of connecting community

By Mark Alberstat

A decade ago, the Internet was a vastly different place than it is today. Most websites featured few, if any graphics. Two Stanford PhD students founded Yahoo! Software programs such as Archie, Veronica and Jughead did searches. An Arizona law firm, Canter & Siefel, sent out the first spam e-mail advertising its green card lottery service. Despite a decade of widespread change, one participant in the local Internet community that has stayed the same is Chebucto Community Net.

After a decade of serving the metro community as an on-ramp to the information highway, Chebucto is celebrating its 10th Anniversary. This year the community group's AGM is being held on April 8.

With more than 2,000 members and 10 years of history, Chebucto continues its community-minded ways.

"We wanted everyone to have access to the Internet no matter their means," remembers David Trueman, Chebucto's first Chair of the Board of Directors. "We did not want to allow the creation of any second-class citizens by people not being able to get online. When we began, there were different ways of connecting to the Internet but most of them were only for people with the means to do so. We stepped in and created Chebucto for the entire community."

The local community can still be found on Chebucto, which hosts websites for dozens of local organizations and companies.

"We wanted to make sure that as this new global community was emerging, people could still find what they wanted to within the local community and that the global community could find us, here in Nova Scotia," remembers Trueman.

That initial need for community input and support is still evident in many of Chebucto's programs, initiatives and policies.

"What the first 10 years have shown is that people want, and are prepared to support, a low-cost, high-quality Internet service, run by people from their own community, who are responsive to the needs of members and directly accountable to them. As long as the need exists, Chebucto will be around to meet it," says Marilyn MacDonald, Board Chair of Chebucto Community Net.

One service most Internet users need these days is spam filtering and Chebucto members have it as part of their annual membership dues. E-mail filtering is just one of the many changes Chebucto has seen over the years. Web mail, personalized e-mail addresses, 1-800 access, a range of account levels, website hosting and other services are just some of the features that Chebucto has developed as the Internet and users have grown with them.

"Our tech team is always working hard to keep up with the technology and the growing demands of our members. We also have to be on the outlook for the next virus or cyber attack. These things were simply not issues 10 years ago," says MacDonald.

What the next 10 years hold for Chebucto is anyone's guess. With technology changing all the time, members and future members may be sure that Chebucto's dedicated volunteer tech team will keep up with growing trends. With strong member support and a vision to help everyone onto the information highway, Chebucto's role in the wired community is only going to grow.

The Mousepad runs every two weeks. It's a service of Chebucto Community Net, a community-owned Internet provider. If you have a question about computing, email If we use your question in a column, we'll send you a free mousepad.


The Mousepad Index


Originally published 28 March 2004


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