Darlene Watters; singer, musician, entertainer, web designer - owner of Wasaga.com - Your online guide to Wasaga Beach.
Hi, my name is Darlene and I am a professional singer turned Internet geek. My fascination with computers began in the late 1980's when the Atari 1040 ST hit the market. The Atari was a popular computer with musicians because it offered new ways to write and perform music. Sometime about 1990 my tallented bass-player husband Rick and I formed a computer-assisted midi duo which performed at venues in Ontario, Quebec, the U.S., and overseas.
The sight of two veteran musicians with a computer on stage was new then and some people were awestruck by it, while others were repulsed, but we couldn't argue with how good it sounded; an orchestra for the price of just two musicians! Rick became proficient at drum and keyboard midi programming and I learned how to deal with the myriad of software and hardware issues.
Before the internet was widespread, I spent time perusing electronic Bulletin Boards in Toronto where I met and learned from a motley crew computer savvy people. Staying employed in the music business required a good deal of self-promotion and I wanted to be one of the first to take advantage of this new technology. My first website, a simple html text site is laughable by today's standards but it was a good starting point.
In 1996 while performing in Dubai, we met a freelance website designer who convinced me that web design could be a full-time profession. It looked like a pretty sweet job; working from home in his pyjamas, no boss looking over his shoulder. Upon returning to Canada I began applying what I had learned to create Wasaga.com. At that time this website was an online portfolio of my website designs (all two of them) but as new businesses signed on it quickly turned into the place to find everything in Wasaga Beach.
Over the years, I have created over a hundred websites for clients such as Hawaiian Tropic Canada, The Wasaga Beach Chamber of Commerce, Conagra Foods Inc., Wasaga Waterworld, Saga Resort, the Donato House and many more. From 1997-2006 I worked with then CDO Bonnie Smith (now a local council member) to create an award winning website for the Town of Wasaga Beach which was fun, innovative and interactive. With a near blank slate to draw visitors to the area, the flagship website included everything from e-postcards (before they were popular), games for kids, articles featuring local topics, a live webcam feed featuring models welcoming visitors from a billboard, hand-drawn maps, and a database of area businesses.
When the Town of Wasaga Beach moved their website to the County, their site became more about municipal services which created a rather large void for tourists. At that time I began adding answers to "frequently asked questions" and updated it regularly with articles and events aimed at showcasing Wasaga Beach with both optimism and honesty. Site visitors have appreciated it and continue to write for help and advice on all things Wasaga.
Today I divide my time between updating and improving this website, designing and maintaining sites for clients, singing, playing guitar and electronic sax, hosting karaoke, DJ'ing, teaching music to enthusiastic beginners - and believe it or not, making soap to sell at local summer markets. If you think it's a lot to do, you'd be right, but I love all of it and consider myself very lucky.