Denis Faulkner, 2014
Denis Faulkner, 2014

Denis Faulkner,
Founder and Owner
October 1960 to December 1968

Whenever I meet someone who remembers Café Le Hibou Coffee House, we trade stories and inevitably the question pops up, "Why not write something about it?" I often thought about doing so, wondering what form it would take. A website became the obvious answer, and with encouragement from Pierre-Paul Lafreniere, the last owner, I set off to do it. Many of us feel that Le Hibou was a particularly important part of Ottawa cultural and social life in the 1960s. Indeed, many people still talk about their good memories of the place. I have good memories too, but Le Hibou, and that entire time period, was also a pivotal period in my own life. I didn't know it then, but as I look back, it was very defining, since without it, my job at the CBC and my meeting of Penny Knight, whom I married, would not have happened. Meeting the many artists, the singers, musicians, actors, graphic designers—some becoming famous, others not—proved quite exhilarating and fulfilling. Perhaps others will also want to share their experiences. Maybe the stories, the photographs, the posters or even an old theatre program will awaken a memory, or elicit a story or photo you'd like to share, and perhaps we could all enhance the persona of Le Hibou past.


My Memories

I remember going to two shows at Le Hibou when I was around 15 or 16. Bruce Cockburn, and the James Cotten Blues Band. I remember sitting in the front row for Bruce Cockburn, who amazed me with his performance. What I remember about James Cotten, was that he was doing somersaults on the floor at one point during his set. It was a long time ago, and my memories are pretty fuzzy. The pictures here brought back some memories. I enjoyed browsing the website.

james cotton

I remember quite well James Cotton . What a band but I don't remember him doing cartwheels He must have done so when I was not there that evening. It must have been quite a sight to see him do cartwheels.

James Cotton

Cartwheels would have been something to see! But no, it wasn't cartwheels that James Cotton was doing. It was somersaults, like you do when you're a kid....Rolling head first, into a forward roll on the floor.

My most memorable evening at Le Hibou

My most memorable evening at Le HiBou was a Sunday evening amateur night. All us guitar players were waiting for the doors to open; I noticed one particular hick-looking tall, lanky dude with a cheap guitar slung over his back with nothing more than a piece of rope for a guitar strap. The guy in charge of the night's line-up (Dave Nickle?) usually tried to get the cheesy acts out of the way first, so this country hick was one of the first ones up. In his inital shy patter, he described Murray McLauchlan as his musical hero and sang "Farmer's Song". The audience rolled their eyes... his apparent fake southern accent lent a - you know - hick's interpretation to the otherwise folksie song. For his next song, he went on to describe that depending on what drug he was on, he could do an impression of one or another famous singer. He said "I took'em all tonight, so here I go!". Everyone chuckled. Well, he performed the most kick-ass medley of country and folk songs, each one mimicking the song's original performer's voice with perfect timing and comedic intelligence that had the crowd on their feet in uproarious applause. Everyone was looking at each other in utter surprise; we were obviously in the presence of uncommon talent. After a long standing ovation, he strapped his cheap guitar across his back and exited out the door onto Sussex Drive without a single look over his shoulder. Who knows where his next gig was...

most memorable

I was not there for that night. Great story. Denis


I will always remember Lehibou,other places are somewhat blurry in my mind,but that little coffee house place left an imprint on my life forever,Cofee houses seemed to be the in thing back in those days,more so then bars,Just like the cofee houses in Yorkville Toronto,Ottawa poets and musicians and song writers also got thier start here,I will always be gratful ,and will chersh those memories forever,;)

Coffee houses ,rather than

Coffee houses ,rather than bars, focused on music and ambiance . We tried to do that at Le Hibou and I think it worked.Denis

Working at Le Hibou

In the 1960s my sister’s friends included Pierre Paul Lafreniere and Peter Hodgson (Sneezy Waters). I started working as a kitchen helper at Le Hibou in June 1967, preparing food, waiting tables for the lunch crowd. By day it was a popular place to eat – public servants, tourists. In the evening it was a happening place for music and theatre. When Joni Mitchell arrived in June ’67 I crept upstairs to her dressing room after the lunch crowd was gone. Her little white minidress hung on a hanger on the door, ready for her evening performance. Did I dare touch it? I’m not saying! My sisters and I enjoyed many a show at Hibou over the years. Corky Kealey of Heaven’s Radio had been in my high school class and I remember Corky on drums at Hibou. I recall grooving to Jim Kweskin’s jug band and getting a kazoo, singing “Keep on truckin’, Mama, truckin’ til the break of day…”. My father brought all his daughters to Hibou to see Woyzeck. Cool dad, he was. Years later I heard a rumour that George Harrison had been in the audience of some show, wearing sunglasses. I don’t know if it’s true but I hope so. Hibou was the scene to be in when I was young.


Many times I would head off to Le Hibou for an evening before doing my homework at Carleton. I recall Joni Mitchell, Willy P. Bennett playing to a full house. Lenny Breau used a guitar in a manner that seemed impossible to believe until you heard him play. It was the most creative musical place in Canada. Many evenings, people would bring their kids to gigs by Heaven's Radio. Arthur II had his first artist shows here. Working late at night, I'm sure Pierre Trudeau would have been tempted to hear some of the music legends that played. After all, his office was just around the corner! It should have been declared a Canadian heritage site! We need to celebrate historical events here... instead of just being Canadian.

I heard that Harrison story

I heard that Harrison story too. I could not corrobate it as I was not there or maybe not even aware that he was there, although I would not be surprised if he did pop in Denis

George Harrison's visit

I was there that night, with a couple of friends. By this time the old table and chair arrangement was replaced with banks of velvet theater seats. They might have come from the Nelson Theater refurbishment. In any case, I can't remember who was playing that night, and of course, we had no idea at the time that George was there. We had just seen the first set, and at the break the three of us went outside to share a cigarette and stretch our legs. We were a little fuzzy when we returned, before the music started up again. We found our seats and sat down on the west side of the room in the front row. One of my friends suddenly realized he wasn't wearing his hat and started to get agitated, saying "I can't find my hat. Someone took my hat." Then he repeated it louder, for the benefit of everyone (Steve was a bit weird). He then stood up and repeated it more loudly, and as he did he saw someone in the front row in front of the stage wearing what looked like Steve's Boy Scout hat. The guy looked kind of odd with his sunglasses on inside. In any case once he saw the guy Steve started pointing his finger, yelling "You, you've got my hat. Give me back my hat". People were paying attention. The guy in the hat was sliding down in his seat, looking straight ahead. I started sliding down in my seat too. It was a bit of a spectacle. At this point I looked down and noticed that there was a rather flat Boy Scout hat on Steve's seat. I called it to his attention, which shut him up and he sat down to straighten out his hat, mumbling and grumbling because we were laughing at him. The next day in the Citizen there was a brief article saying that George had been in town, with a photo of him in sunglasses and a broad brimmed hat, just like the ones we had seen the day before. If Steve hadn't been such a schmuck and had gone over to apologize he would have met George Harrison. Instead he just gave George an unpleasant memory. What a Steve!

George Harrison at Le Hibou

the story i recall is that George was there when the film "Yellow Submarine" (i think) had played at a local theatre (the Capital) & Eric Anderson (one of my favourites) was present & afterwards all hands wnet too le Hibou (like you would) for one of it's afterhours jam sessions and among the jammers that got up there was George & eric. one of many memorable times Le Hibou gave us in the 60's. LOVE having just found this site & hope to share a couple more memories sometime. You what they say tho "if you remember the 60's..." admittedly i was a little fuzzy headed back then.

Playing the Sunday night Hootnannys at Hibou

Oh my goodness, what wonderful memorys come to mind. Denis Faulkner's Cafe Le Hibou had the most amazing Sunday night Hootnannys and of course thanks to Peter Paul Lafreniere, the best sounding PA system ! Thanks Peter Paul, you made us sound great ! My life long friend Tom Gamble, and I used to go and preform at the Sunday night Hootnannys and test out our original material to see how and if, it would go over well. I specificaly recall one of our songs entitled " Never Measure Up To You " went over extremly well with a resounding call from the audience for more. Tom's brother Dan Gamble, wrote the lyric for the song and dedicated it to his fiance Barb. They were in attendence that evening and were glowing in the aftermath of the audiences reaction to our song. Perhaps that was the Turning Point to thier relationship as they went on to marry and have two wonderful daughters Sierra and Shannon. Tom and I went on from there developing our original material and musical skills playing venues throught the Ottawa/Hull region. We were lucky enough to put a Band together in the late 70's called "Small Change". Small Change consisted of myself, Tom Gamble, Micheal Bate, Peter Fredette and his brother Robin Fredette. We hooked up with the late great Le Hibou Star & Legend.... Colleen Peterson, and played with her throught Ontario promoting her 3rd Album. My most memorable Gig with Colleen Peterson and the Small Change Band was at Squire's Tavern on Rideau Street. The lineup to get in to see our show extended from Squire's Tavern (Friends & Company now ?) to King Edward Street. To this day I truly believe that none of that would have ever happened had it not been for those Sunday night Hootnannys at Le Hibou. Hibou was such an incredible place, I've never forgotten that amazing feeling of playing in a place along with the likes of Bruce Cockburn, James Cotton Blues Band, Sneezy Waters, David Wiffen, Richy Patterson, Frank Koller, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, and the latest rumor being George Harrison in the crowd ...just to name a few lol. With all the incredible amount of non ending talent we have all witnessed back then whether it be original music, cover tunes, poetry etc etc, the persona of Le Hibou past stills lives on today. This amazing web site proves it ! Thanks so much for creating it. Over the last decade or so I've hosted a few Open Stages around the Ottawa area in the hope of keeping the persona of those Sunday night Le Hibou Hootnanny Spirits alive. Through those Open Stages I have found that we are so blessed to have so many wonderful local up and coming Artists, it's good to know that some things never die. Many thanks for those wonderful CBC Le Hibou videos a few years back, they certainly proved that old school is still new school. Lastly, thank you so much Denis Faulkner, and Pierre Paul Lafreniere, for creating and continuing Cafe Le Hibou. It truly was/is one of Ottawa's most original, creative artistical venues ever created. I look forward to reading the many many storys to come and all of the sweet wonderful cherished memorys from all of those people who were so fortunate to have experienced the Hibou Experience !


Great to see that you are keeping the spirit alive! Denis


Thank you for the website, and the memories, Denis. Le Hibou played a big part in my formative years of music appreciation in the Ottawa area. Blues is my favorite music to this day, due in large part to the experience of seening live performances at Le Hibou by musicians such as James Cotton, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee, and so many other amazing talents! Merci, Denise Woodland Barnes

Larry Coryell

My favorite evening out of many at Le Hibou was Larry Coryell - with Miroslav Vituous (hope I spelled that right). I turned down an evening of love-making with a beatify person names "Donna" to go and see Larry. It was worth it. He was just making the move to becoming the best jazz guitarist on the planet, inventing jazz-rock, and he delivered the full Monty. Thank you Dennis.

larry Coryell

Well In retrospect was it not the right choice. Denis

Tom Rush

I came from a small village in the Ottawa Valley and a good friend who was attending Carleton U took me to Le Hibou to see Tom Rush. I was familiar with the name but not so much with his music. I was so impressed with that intimate concert that I went out and bought his LP. During his Le Hibou performance when he introduced the band he called himself 'little Timmy Rush'. The same band introduction is used on the LP.

Memories of the last years

Thanks for the great site - brings back so many memories from such a short period of time (for me). Le Hibou was the iconic Canadian place of the Sixties (and early 70s). Back in the days when Sparks Street Mall was THE place to hang out in the daytime and Le Hibou at night. I came on late on the scene after dropping out of high school in early 1972. I worked there for a year and a bit, I think (it’s all fuzzy now!). Washing dishes by day, making cappuccinos at night, smoking hash upstairs, Sunday night hootenannys, amazing lunches, beer around the corner at the LaF. And of course, all the incredible concerts. Driving out to Vancouver later on with musician Bob Soucy, whom I met there. I got to know the James Cotton Band really well and for many years after got together with them when ever our paths crossed on the west coast. (Remember James working his way through the room with his harp & mike to play outside to the crowd waiting on the sidewalk to get in?) I didn’t know Denis Faulkner, but knew Peter Paul Lafreniere - hi Peter Paul, if you’re out there and remember me!

Thanks for your good

Thanks for your good comments. I will pass your "Hi" to Peter Paul. Denis

Le Hibou in the 60's

I worked Thursday nights on the door as a volunteer, trying to sell memberships and collecting entrance dollars. My full time job was at the law firm of Gowling, McTavish, Osborne & Henderson, at Albert & Metcalfe. Loved the coffee house, remember Gordie Lightfood and how difficult he was in rehearsal. But boy, when he sang, it was Heaven. Ritchie Havens was another particular favourite of mine. I lived in Ottawa from 1964-67 and left to marry and settle in a different city. Great memories.

As told by many you had

As told by many you had good memories of Le Hibou. Glad to hear it. Denis

working Le Hibou door

I did work the door many times. The price of an annual membership was 1.00$. The price of admission was never more than an additional 2.00. Those were the days.

Heavenly BLue

My friends and I caught many a performance at Le Hibou though my favourite memories are of trudging down through winter weekend nights to sit behind those thickly breath-frosted winter plate glass windows and listen to Heavenly Blue at After Hours Blues. I loved their music and was hypnotized with the grace with which Carl Corbeau played his drum kit! Le Hibou — the place, the people and the music was a life-affirming vehicle in my migration from the world of my parent's Gord Atkinson's "Showbill" on CFRA and high fidelity recordings of Oklahoma! and the like.

I always wondered who were

I always wondered who were those dark shadows lurking outside those windows . Now I know. Denis

Carl Corbeau

WOW! Carl was a friend of mine. I was "sweet" on his sister Sylvia. His Dad, like mine, was an Army Officer, and, in time, so was I. Great family - Carl was "unique"... a good guy and was great on the drums. Lovely family, who had a cottage I've been a guest at near Honey Harbor.

Cafe Le Hibou Recollections

Hello to the Le Hibou fans... Just the other day Sept7, I was at the rehab centre here in ottawa, and outside sitting with some people, I look at this chap, quite a few times. Then I said to the lady beside, that I recongnize a chap here, and that I am sure I new him from the Le Hibou, she mentioned it to him, and sure enought it was him. Now that's going way, way back. I am 62years old now. And to remember a face, from so long ago. We both had a good laught, and I got up and shook is hand. And said, well Alztimers hasen't hit us yet. It was nice to remember Cafe Le Hibou again. Joannie Mitchell...

I have only Fond Memories of Le Hibou

I loved going to Le Hibou it was like being in another world. I remember Muddy Waters and he banged his feet so hard that I could feel the small stage move. It was one of the most wonderful, cherished memories of my younger years. I often talk about Le Hibou and the good old days. Back then life seemed so simple and carefree. It truly was the greatest place to be in the 60's.

Le Hibou

Without a doubt the hippest place to have existed in Ottawa. Being a musician myself I was attracted to the place since a lot of the things I dug listening to, often would at some point be performing in the place. Lenny breau happened to be one those but the most incredible and unbelievable events was getting to see the original Weather Report group who at that time probably were the most progressive jazz fusion group of their time and the impact of hearing was like having musical aliens land in Ottawa of all places and completely blow my mind . Of course many of the great Canadian artists whether it be folk, blues and progressive rock also made their way into the place to give all of us music fans a real treat. Unbelievable place, what an opportunity it was for our generation to have such a beautiful cultural venue. The Best !!!

many wonderful evnings

Hi Denis What fond memories I have of Cafe Hibou...I always felt like the youngest person in the club on Sussex Drive, 68' or 69' (making me 15 or 16), remember well coffee laced with cinnamon. Was that you mc'ing? Proud to say that Tom Rush was coming in a few weeks then apologizing for the fact that tickets would be $9.00? Best memories, Murray McLauchlan, with his warm story preambles, but "16 lanes of Highway" especially, Allan Fraser and Daisy DeBolt totally absorbed in each other and a high energy performance (twice). Eric Andersen and Jerry Jeff Walker for having mad great recoveries between sets... oh, yes, eyes peering in through the slit in the window curtains and stomping on the cold winter sidewalk , hoping someone would leave the James Cotton or Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee performances. We were enthusiastic and still left out in the cold. I missed several last buses and hitch hiked home not feeling any the worse for needing to do so. Do you remember the name of the classical guitarist John ??, an Englishman, who transcribed Bach, and Scarlatti etc., played at Hibou. (He moved to Edmonton for a time). If we had really known how precious the Cafe Le Hibou experience would be, we'd have gone to see all the performances and would have more pictures for your reflections. Oh, the gargoyle-type faces on either side of the stage led to the ambiance. Thanks for providing when I (we) were there. PaulK

Oscar Brand!

OB introduced his record, Baudy Songs and Backroom Ballads, vol. 1. One of the most vulgar songs, Sam Hall, is even on Wikipedia. In the middle of the song, a very young couple came in. Brand changed the words in mid-phrase to "... Gall darn your eyes, Son-of-a-gun, Shucks." There was some kind of issue about public decency, and Le Hibou was one of the only places he could sing the songs.

Joni Mitchell and Jimi Hendrix

After the Joni Mitchell L'hibou concert there was a party in Vanier. Who attended the party? Thanks!

Hawkins article

I though this needed a link here:

Tom Northcott at Le Hibou

In December 1970 when I was a first year Math student named Kathleen Grant at Carleton University, I met a young man named Martin Haché at the Carleton Heights Curling Club. On March 13, 1971, we went out on our first date and caught Tom Northcott's show at Le Hibou. Less than two years later, I married Martin. We have now been married over 40 years and have six children and five grandchildren. I also have a B.Ed. (1993) from Ottawa, a degree I received after our children were all in school full time. Martin and I still speak fondly of that night at Le Hibou, as well as several other evenings spent listening to great music there.

Great Memories

Worked on and off for a couple of years at Hibou when John and his wife were the owners, hitch hiked miles to get there, loved every minute, i saw so many acts i would never have had a chance to see any where else. i brought a friend once, Joey Probst, he was a great musician and John put him on as an opener to Odetta, he was terrified but she encouraged him and he was great. No amount of money could buy these memories, thanks for them

Le Hibou concerts

I've been to at least a hundred concerts at Le Hibou, including by: Tim Hardin Jerry Jeff Walker Jesse Winchester Kris Kristofferson Dion DiMucci (in his folk music days) Murray McLauchlin Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee James Cotton Blues Band Muddy Waters Blues Band Tom Rush Tom Paxton Willie Dixon Stringband (not sure it was at Le Hibou...) Perth County Conspiracy McKenna Mendelsohn Mainline ("Stink" concert) Modern Rock Quartet (MRQ) Colleen Peterson Companeros Fraser & DeBolt Original Sloth Band Short Turn Sneezy Waters And The Excellent Band Otis Spann Blues Band

Le Hibou, AFind!

Dropped by after performing at the Arts Centre decades ago...and, yes, cafes were big in Ottawa, Montreal and TO. How fortunate we're we!

Blast from the past!!

This site sure brought back a lot of memories. My dad worked at J.M. Hill Printers and they printed the advertising posters for the entertainment. He would bring them home to me and I had the walls of my bedroom papered with them. Your section called "Musicians posters" brought me instantly back to my old bedroom! Dad would also score tickets for me occasionally. I don't remember why but I went to Le Hibou by myself as a 15 year old. Someone else mentioned they always felt like the youngest person there...well, I always thought that about myself. I made friends there and just hung out, probably thinking I was pretty cool!!!

Great times at Le Hibou

In 1967 I spent many hours at Le Hibou. It was the place to be and I loved every minute spent there.

Thanks for the memories

Great web site! I began going to Le Hibou when it was on Bank Street. I went from a geeky, non-smoking, short-haired high school kid who wore buttoned-down striped shirts and pressed pants to a long-haired, hippie/beatnik who shlepped around in torn jeans and sometimes wore a dirty blanket with a hole cut in the centre for my head, who smoked both cigarettes and pot, in the space of about 6 months. My marks at school went from the high 80s to the low 60s. My high school principle would’t let me appear in the annual yearbook picture of the school choir, as I presented such a bad image. My parents were appalled! I had a great time, listening to some great music, at Le Hibou, and wouldn't trade those days for anything. Paul Harris Duncan, BC

Excellent website

Denis, Hats off to you for all you contributed when Ottawa was known as a "boring town", where you could throw a bowling ball down Bank St. at 8 p.m. and it wouldn't hit anything; when it was as "White" as snow, and as conservative as Queen Elizabeth II. The subversive offerings of goulash, and Turkish coffee, and the amazing theater performed right in your midst made it memorable. I saw an unforgettable, for a 17 yrs old, performance of Chekov's The Seagull. I regret not having seen Irving Layton perform his equally subversive poetry. I would gladly have stayed in the long line up that winter night. But, I did interview a budding Gord Lightfoot in the late 1960s for the Fisher Park High School Newspaper, at the Le Hibou before he stepped on stage. Like Paul Harris Duncan, I moved to BC. Btw, Paul, I'm in Nelson ( :) Thanks again Denis!


George was most assuredly there that night ..He came to Ottawa to rendezvous and connect with Eric Anderson who was performing at Le Hibou..From Ottawa they both flew back to London where Eric made his first LP under the Apple label, preceding James Taylor's Baby Jane also recorded there ..George was bundled up and wore a large hat..It was not pleasant outside so this seemed unremarkable ...I believe John Rouseau was on that night and delivered an announcement after George left along the lines of "For those of you that may not know......" Also Jorma Kaukonan's brother went to Ottawa U and Jorma visited him while touring with the Jefferson Airplane ..He too would grace those brushed brick walls ...

Le Hibou -

I just loved Le Hibou on Sussex Drive. I arrived in 1967 as a 21 year old immigrant to Ottawa from England and found Le Hibou, my idea of a touch of the bohemian life! My greatest memory was going to one of those intimate concerts where Tim Hardin was performing ...."If I was a carpenter...." It so happened that I worked with Denis at CBC-Radio-Canada, but I did not make the connection with him for a while, I was just happy to go to Le Hibou!.

After Hours

I remember playing After Hours at Hibou with Child, probably around 1971-72. Although the details are fuzzy (funny how that happened), there was the sense that we really enjoyed it. The sun may have been rising during load-out. We wrote a song titled "Smiling John" and used to do it all over Ottawa and the area. Unfortunately, we never recorded it. Hibou was a unique place in a special time...sadly, now long gone.

Playing with Child

You're right Kenny, many good memories there. Loved the song Smiling John and you're right again....we should have recorded it!


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