With the advent of the hippie culture came marijuana. Of course this phenomenon greatly excited the media and engendered great discussion on the vulnerability of our youth. Not to be outdone, the local French newspaper Le Droit ran a front page article in one of their their Saturday sections with a large photo of what was unmistakabley Le Hibou. They discussed at length the infiltration of pot amongst the youth. To illustrate the point they published a photo of the front outside section of Le Hibou, showing our distinctive wide windows and a few letters of our sign. To make it even more sinister, they put a black rectangle over the faces of the people lounging outside.

Of course I was incensed and furious. Never at anytime was the sale of marijuana or any drugs tolerated at Le Hibou. I asked our lawyer to send a letter to Le Droit expressing our wrath and our intent on bringing them to court on a slander charge. Weeks passed without any news from Le Droit. Finally, I received word that the newspaper would pay us $2,500 in damages and publish a retraction. I was, of course ecstatic at being vindicated and receiving compensation, but I was considerably less so when I discovered that the lawyer was taking two-thirds of the money as his fee. Then I became even more outraged – two-thirds of the money for writing one letter? I asked Glen Kealey, another lawyer (who had organized the chess tournaments at Le Hibou on Rideau Street) to contest the fee. He took it up with a lawyers review board and they reversed the fee to one-third to the lawyer with Le Hibou receiving the other two thirds.

Financial Tensions

The finances of Le Hibou were always precarious. So much so that on many occasions Harvey and I had to top up the bank account to cover expenses. The first time we both put in $500, another time $700 and a third time, I believe is was $800. The amounts may not seem a lot today but at that time it was a considerable amount (considerable enough that I can recall the amounts decades later). I had to take the money from the family budget and this created a lot of tension and stress with Penny. It also caused her anxiety: What if Le Hibou went bankrupt? We were not protected. Any of our assets, be it the house, car, furniture , bank money were vulnerable. Nor could we set up as a private company. That would have been too expensive. Harvey’s investment was under Treble Clef Entertainment, so with a bankruptcy only Treble Clef Entertainment would be affected. (Penny was quite correct when years later the Treble Clef stores and the concert arm closed. They were under Treble Clef Entertainment designation.)

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