How an email exchange became a 15-year blog project

On April 21, 2018, Sherron Jones sent the following notice to her followers on the Moccasin Telegraph email list: “Now that the Moccasin Telegraph has run its course after 15 years of providing an opportunity for folks to share history and reconnect, we have stopped preparing more editions.

There had been 445 regular editions in that time, one a month at the peak of production, along with about 131 special editions focussed on just one topic each.

At the time, I wrote to Sherron suggesting that I would like to do a proper wrap-up piece about the “MocTel,” as it was known to its hundreds of contributors and readers. She wasn’t sure that I would need any input from her, seeing as I had written a story back in 2006 when she received her Commissioner’s Award for Public Volunteer Service, for her work connecting former and current Yukoners during her retirement from public service in the territory.

I told her I would need to know more than I did, and she agreed to think about it. We might have chatted, but she decided to write, and nearly 3,200 words later, I was so relieved not to have to transcribe an interview that long.

Jones lived in Whitehorse for 15 years, between the late 1960s and 1983, working her way up from being a cashier at City Hall to becoming the director of finance.

MocTel began 20 years later, in Coldstream, B.C., where Jones, who had cultivated an interest in genealogy in the meantime, lived with husband, Bill, and was using her computer to compile a list of email addresses.

The whole project was a result of receiving an email in January 2003 (early in terms of emails and email addresses). It was from a former Yukoner who lived in Vernon at the time (now passed away); his name was Fred Aylwin, and [he] had grown up in Mayo, and his parents were later our next-door neighbours on Alsek in Riverdale, in Whitehorse.

Aylwin wanted her to pass a message to a friend of his, if she happened to have contact information. It turned out she did, and that fellow, Henry Breaden, forwarded her his own list of addresses.

[I] replied that if he would like to send a note to those contacts, I would send a note to those I had email addresses for and offer to be the repository of email addresses for those who had formerly lived in Yukon, and offer them the opportunity to reconnect using email.

She had no idea what kind of Pandora’s box she had just opened, but at least this one had only good things in it.

“THE MOCCASIN TELEGRAPH”—First Edition—February 16, 2003, was relatively short (a mere 119 kilobytes, or KB, in size) and contained what it headlined as “Interesting Notes from Folks.” There were about 15 contributions, none more than a paragraph or two.

Subsequent issues would get longer, but issue 8 was still just 256 KB. Number 9, however, jumped to 2.3 megabytes (MB). There were dozens of contributors, some much larger writings, and the first of what would be many photographs.

There’s much more to the MocTel story and, with the editor’s permission, I will follow this column with some others showing the evolution of this online blog.

If you want to know more than I can ever tell in these pages, contact Sherron Jones, 9205 Orchard Ridge Drive, Coldstream, B.C., V1B 1V8, and for a fee she will send you a CD with the entire run. Since a lot of laptops don’t have CD drives anymore (my wife and I share one between our studies), you can upload the whole thing onto a memory stick and it works well.

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