UPEI celebrates 25 years of being first .ca website

Ryan Ross rross@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on January 13, 2013
Dave Cormier, UPEI’s web communications and innovations manager, shows off an early version of the university’s website from 1998.
Guardian photo

There may be more than 2 million .ca domain names but 25 years ago UPEI was breaking new ground by registering the first.

Dave Cormier, the university’s web communications and innovations manager, said the registration had a big influence on P.E.I. and the university.

“The first Internet service on the Island was provided by the university through this as well and that’s how they ended up funding it,” he said.

Easy access to the Internet and high-speed service were a long way off on Jan. 12, 1988 when UPEI registered UPEI.ca. At the time, university officials knew they were among the first to apply, but didn’t realize the school would be the first to register a .ca domain name.

In a news release from the university, Jim Hancock, who was listed as the school’s administrative contact on the original domain name application, said UPEI was one of 10 Canadian universities that brought the Internet to Canada.

“It’s hard for young people today to imagine a time without the Internet,” he said.

Hancock represented UPEI at a meeting in Victoria, B.C. in those early days where one of the other delegates compared it to building the first railroad across Canada.

“We had no idea where this Internet thing would lead, but it has changed our world profoundly,” he said.

Byron Holland, president of the Canadian Internet Registry Authority (CIRA), said UPEI had a unique role in the .ca domain development.

“Having a .ca is like having a Canadian flag on your digital backpack,” he said.

Cormier said since the domain registration, UPEI’s staff can do more innovation with technology than his colleagues can at any other university in the country because of the information technology department.

“If there’s any impact it’s their willingness to allow us to innovate and do new and creative stuff,” he said.

To celebrate the anniversary, UPEI has included a link to one of its earliest websites from 1998 at UPEI.ca.

Cormier said people initially had a lot of information and were just trying to get it out to through their websites.

But as the years went on design started to have more of an influence as technology evolved and now they are more professionalized.

“It has to be pretty, it has to be effective. You see the blending of those two things,” he said.