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.
101 replies on “Denis’s Recollections”
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.
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.
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.
Must have been quite a
Must have been quite a sight. Denis
I was there, and you are right. It was head over heals and pretty funny given his build. Then there was the 150 ft mic cord that allowed him to wander out onto Sussex.
I saw that show where he did the Sommersault he also had along mic cable and wandered outside where the next shows people were lined up.
The best uplifting show I saw was Taj Mahal with Jesse Edwin Davis
Je reqlly shows me how a show should develop.
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…
I was not there for that night. Great story. Denis
Peter Nichol, maybe. Regular host-performer at numerous hoots in 60s, 70s and a solid standard folkie with a special affection for anything Phil Ochs.
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.
RE celebrate Canadian events, not just be Canadian, I totally agree. Also make more movies on Canadian themes.
I read there was a celebration of the Le HIBOU In Ottawa in 2016. That’s good.
Again, thanks Denis. What a colourful life you lead in those days, adding colour to a relatively colourless town.
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!
amazing story Alex…. I heard that George may have been wearing rose colored heart shaped sunglasses as well.
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
I enjoyed the shows as much
I enjoyed the shows as much as you did and I now miss them Denis
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.
Well In retrospect was it not the right choice. Denis
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.
Le Hibou memories
So many wonderful memories working p/t in your little boutique and modelling some of your creations. Before I knew it I was soon on stage introducing great artists like Joni Mitchell, Neil “Crazy Horse”Young and Jose Feliciano! What an unforgettable time. Thank you for so many endless and happy memories!
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
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…
Good stiry. Thanks. Denis
Good story. Thanks. Denis
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.
Totally agree with you.
Totally agree with you. Denis
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 !!!
Thanks for that. Denis
Thanks for that. Denis
many wonderful evnings
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
Hey, I’m doing some archiving work for John as a matter of fact and came upon your comment. If you’d like to contact John he instructed me to leave his number for you. We hope you’ll be in touch! 785-764-9271
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?
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.
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:
Jerry Jeff Walker
Dion DiMucci (in his folk music days)
Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee
James Cotton Blues Band
Muddy Waters Blues Band
Stringband (not sure it was at Le Hibou…)
Perth County Conspiracy
McKenna Mendelsohn Mainline (“Stink” concert)
Modern Rock Quartet (MRQ)
Fraser & DeBolt
Original Sloth Band
Sneezy Waters And The Excellent Band
Otis Spann Blues Band
While attending Algonquin College (September 68-70) my roommate and I visited lehibou many times.
One of my fondness memories was having a beer with Jerry Jeff Walker when over the PA Mr. Bojangles played in the background.
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!!!
Do you still have any of those ad posters?! I’d love to see them.
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.
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 (email@example.com) 🙂
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!.
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!
I was a bit young, so I eard about Le Hibou from my friends who started a band called Son of Adan and Eve. They were telling telling how great it was at the after hour shows. My favorite local band at the time was MRQ, I tought they were ahead of there time. They played there often and jammed into the night. I could only imagine…
A couple of years later I whent to see Al Kooper(BS&T) and it was a night I remember to this day. All the details, snowy evening getting there, the place was already packed but we managed, my girlfriend and I, my wife still, to find a spot right close to the stage near a post. Great show. Of course He sung I love you more then you’ll ever know.
A couple of years ago I was reading an acticle in a music magazine and they were saying that Al still replied himself to all the email, so, I emailed him, explaining my recollection of the evening and how I though it was great evening for me.
He replied alrigh, something like, all he remembered from that evening was the good fu&? He had that night. I was shocked but that didn’t change my mind, it was one of those evening to remember.
I went a second time, to see Rahoul Dugay and l’infonie.
I really enjoyed reading the story. I was really suprised to find that a lot Québec artists went to The Hibou, Yvon Deschamps, wow, Renné Claude…
I was at the Al Kooper show that night. He wore black leather pants, I seem to recall.
It was incredible to watch.
I generally went to After Hours and was trying to remember what time it started…11:00?? Not sure why I can’t remember.
Le Hibou: A Special Place
When I was a student at Fisher Park High School in the mid to late sixties my music teacher was Russ Thomas. Since Mr. Thomas was a highly respected and accomplished jazz musician in his own right, I was doubly blessed, in that he took me under his wing and mentored me as a burgeoning guitar player. He played all the reed instruments exceptionally well and he could also play guitar. As well as playing professional gigs with Russ on the weekends, he would often take me to jazz concerts in Ottawa and as far as Montreal to hear and sometimes meet great jazz players like, Bill Evans, Roland Kirk, Nelson Symonds and Freddy Hubbard.
It was on one of these occasions that Russ (who eventually changed his name to Sayyd Abdul Al-Khabyyr) took me to Le Hibou on Sussex Drive to meet and hear the great guitarist, Lenny Breau. It was the first time I had ever gone to Le Hibou. I remember timidly following my teacher up the stairs to the dressing room in the club (coffee house) where Lenny was preparing for his gig that night. Russ introduced me, a very shy seventeen year old at the time, to one of the word’s greatest guitarists, Lenny Breau. I was awestruck.
That evening, after getting Lenny’s permission, Russ, who had an ebony flute with him, sat in with him. They played two tunes together at Le Hibou: a free blues and The Girl From Ipanema. I will never forget hearing Lenny’s cascading harmonics on Jobim’s composition as they echoed through the tiny club.
I heard several other guitarists at Le Hibou over the years, including Larry Coryell, and I have heard many other guitarists all over the world since, but no other performance was as memorable, or as exhilarating, as my front table seating and first experience hearing Lenny Breau at Le Hibou that night in the sixties.
James McCreavy (professional guitarist)
I think I was at that Lenny Breau concert. Indeed a massive talent.
I too studied under Russ Thomas at Fisher Park High School, playing clarinet in the school band.
As a lover of jazz, I would have jubilated over those concerts in Montreal.
I’m now in BC.
I was at Le Hibou and was friends with MRQ’s Doug Orr and artist Arthur II, also attended Fisher Park High and had the thrill of you James backing me up during the last and most recent Fisher Reunion. Your skillful playing certainly impressed me and I remember it fondly.
Le Hibou defined my high school years
Growing up in Ottawa, Le Hibou was THE weekly destination for my Nepean High School friends and I and a defining activity of my teenage years. I was blessed to see many of the great acts described by others posters in Le Hibou’s intimate setting. My kids find it hard to believe this I saw such great acts without going to a stadium with 20000 strangers.
In the early 70’s, Jim Fenton and I did our best to create a Le Hibou-like atmosphere at Queen’s University in Kingston’s “Bitter Grounds Cafe”. We were lucky to land some great acts but ultimately Bitter Grounds, like other Café’s, were a victim of the times as tastes changes.
I am looking forward to reading Ken Rockburn’s new book on the history of Le Hibou.
As a teen I remember visiting Le Hibou twice. The Capital Theatre in Ottawa had shown a Beatles film, perhaps “Magical Mystery Tour” and afterwards me and a friend went to Le Hibou for a filming of Nosferatu. The next day The Ottawa Citizen reported that George Harrison had been at the cafe and had gone unrecognized by the people inside. In the spring of 1967 I went to Le Hibou as a 16 year old and somehow managed to interview Dianne Brooks and Eric Mercury. I submitted my piece to a long defunct magazine,SOUL located in Toronto and was blown away to receive a copy of the May/June 1967 issue with a, full page article I had written on the pair. i still have intact magazine today and if you contact at marknorthwest@hotmail, I would be happy to provide a copy of the article and the backstory to how I got to interview these wonderful performers.
Le Hibou at Bank and Sussex and Penny’s Potbelly Boutique
Coming to Ottawa from Europe, Wim and I sampled Le Hibou both at its Bank location and on Sussex Drive, enjoying good music and a great atmosphere. The two-story interior was also unique. As I was part of the crafts scene, I got to know Penny at Potbelly Boutique, where I sold my original leather and silver jewelry. Le Hibou is a precious part of our Ottawa experiences in the sixties and early seventies. We still enjoyed Le Hibou in our early years at Au Gout Artistique, which later converted to Café Wim, just a few doors away. Yes, we were inspired! Thanks, Dennis for the memories.
And I loved Cafe Wim, Iris.
Thanks for all the years of enjoyment you gave us.
Iris I remember you so well !! You were always ahead of your day and a renaissance woman – right down to riding a bicycle as your method of commuting.
Tim Hardin, T-Bone Walker and Van Morrison
I remember seeing Tim Hardin who was late by about an hour because (rumour had it) he was at the Laf. Still gave a great show. Another time I saw T-Bone Walker and his son … also memorable. But by far, the best concert for me was Van M. who played his Astral Weeks album … number 19 on the Rolling Stone greatest albums of all time. What a great concert. Thank you Dennis and Le Hibou. P.S. Attended after hour jams where I had to walk home to the west end afterwards because there were no buses … sometimes in the winter :-).
Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee
What a night. I was a country girl, new to the city, not very experienced and not really sure what to make of the whole scene I was in. I sure knew I was electrified with the music and taken away on a wonderful, musical journey that night. It was a mind blowing show then my friend Claudette Sabourin and I leave and discover there are no buses running. We are pretty high and poor university students so we decided we’d hitchhike to where we were boarding, way out in the west end of Ottawa; not Kanata but the most westerly part near a large shopping plaza… name escapes me now. Anyway, a couple guys were walking down Bank Street too and we decided to walk together. We spent the whole night with them walking along Carling Avenue until we got to, oh yeah, Bayshore! The sun was coming up and buses started running and the guys were very disappointed that we decided to go home which meant they had to take the bus back downtown to wherever they lived!!! One of those amazing experiences that I’ll never forget, well I hope I don’t!!!
Thank you Le HIbou!
I lived in Ottawa 1970-1973, went to Ridgemont HS. One night in the winter of 1971 I was wandering around the backstreets of Rideau area, feeling cold and lonely. Then I saw some people standing outside some kind of a club. When the door opened for a moment, hot and heavy blues music exploded through the door and engulfed me. Next thing I knew, I was inside and listening and dancing to the great Jame Cotton Blues Band!
I had come over from Japan in 1970 but had difficulty making friends and was slightly depressed at that time, but this night at the Le Hibou changed everything for me. I went there whenever my favorite artist/band was playing. I even formed a blues band with my friends (yes, I had a few good friends).
In addition to Jame Cotton BB, I was lucky enough to see the legendary Muddy Waters from about 10 feet away. I remember him drinking milk while he played (had a glass on top of piano). He was accompanied by a blind guitarist named Tony Pena (I think).
Another memorable night for me was seeing the original Weather Report group in September 1972. The group had just made its debut and was starting a North American tour. When I got to Le Hibou about two hours before the show and found Wayne Shorter all alone, cleaning his saxophone at a table. I had been his fan since the Miles Davis years, so I asked for autograph and chatted with him. Again I got to see the band perform from point blank range, including the incredible Joe Zawinul on keyboards and Miroslav Vitous on bass.
If I had not found Le Hibou that night in 72, I’m not sure if I could have survived two more long and cold winters in Ottawa. I had been a music fan before finding Le Hibou, but listening to records by yourself has its limitations (especially in the winter). Seeing the great bands at the Le Hibou really inspired me and gave me the energy to go on in life… I’m still enjoying music (and other crazy things like playing basketball) 40+ years later.
I heard that the club is no longer there, but I would like to say (belatedly):
Thank you Le Hibou (and all the musicians), for changing my life!!
Blows My Mind Then and Now
I was a student at Carleton in the mid/late 60s. The first act I saw at Le Hibou was Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. I knew them from records I’d heard as a teenager. I could hardly believe they were in Ottawa. I spoke with Brownie very briefly. They were dynamite. Sonny blew us away with his harp. Later, I saw Otis Spann, Tim Hardin, James Cotton, T-Bone Walker, John Prine, and John Lee Hooker. Somehow I wound up in the green room upstairs talking with John Lee. Wow! Amazing to think that he and so many more greats gigged there. Van Morrison came and he played the whole of MOONDANCE, which had just been released. I’d only vaguely heard of him at the time. One night I saw Bill Stevenson play. He was a great blue pianist and from Ottawa. He and Otis Spann so inspired me that I learned how to play blues piano, which I do to this day. Without Le Hibou I might be playing tin pan alley tunes! So I thank that wonderful club from so long ago. Great, great memories. Thanks, Denis. and John, too.
and I remember many times that Bill Stevenson would play at Le Hibout and then go to the Ottawa House and sit at their rickety old piano and play there until past 3 in the morning., after which my buddy and I would go off and have a wonderful breakfast of Pork Hock, Sauerkraut and mashed potatoes…
or, was it Chez Henri??
A Saving Grace
Living in Nepean, I think it took about an hour and half to get downtown, on the #71 and #6 buses, but it was totally worth it. I saw so many great artists at Le Hibou. David Wiffen, Bruce Cockburn, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, Rambling Jack and a very young Murray Mclaughin, who claimed he had been fined for vagrancy while hanging around in the train station waiting for his show to begin. Going there always made me feel like I had managed to escape to somewhere sort of magical. Thanks for making this page.
Gratitude and Fond Memories
I discovered and went through the website a few weeks back.
Thank you for hosting and sharing these great memories and reflections.
I had forgotten all the wonderful people and musicians that I have been blessed to see up close and in person. Almost everyone listed I was able to see at one time or another, as I was for many years a weekend regular. They are a part of the music that still plays in my heart.
So much GREAT music, food, and coffee. (Oh the coffee – I first discovered double espresso at midnight at Le Hibou and did not sleep for 2 days!).
One person of note I remember seems to be missing (perhaps by unintentional lapse of recall). Dr.John and his voodoo entourage blew through like a bayou breeze (even through it was rather wintery outside) trailing their tales of GooGooGumboYaYa…
Thanks and cheers
(the other Dr. John)
Yes ! Dr. John was definitely there and accompanied by a chorus of 3 amazing vocalists (women). Not only is his music amazing but do you remember his snake skin jacket-cape?
Gone but never forgotten
Gad to see people are stil contributing to this site, we are al getting older. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast but i can clearly remember every magical night I spent at Le Hibou.
Through the big eyes of a teen.
My brother & sister’s band, originally called Five in the Morning then the Wendovers, played there from time to time. That was cool enough but it was listening to the likes of Bruce Cockburn, Anne Mortifee, David Wiffen, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee. So cool! Pierre-Paul Lafrenière was from a family that had a cottage a few doors from ours. Great memories.
I remember seeing Seals and
I remember seeing Seals and Croft and many others mention before, and they had great date squares!!
I remember being in the tiny washroom at Le Hibou with Colleen Peterson. We were reading some of the things that people had written on the wall and were doubled over with laughter !
Le Hibou mid 1960’s
I have fond memories of Le Hibou during the 1960’s….My friend Peter Paul Lafrenier, (PP in those days) was connected to the Aylmer Free School as well…..I got to see many performers there including Neil Young …Van Morrison, Sonny Terry and Brownie Magee ( i drove them to their hotel on Bank Street after their gig)…and they gave me a harmonica as a keepsake……long gone i’m afraid….I can still vision Van Morrison pacing back and forth making due on that tiny stage….I was playing in a Ottawa west end band “Bitter Scene” at the time….closest i got to playing at Le Hibou was at Le Petite Souris on Bank street…those were wonderful days and cherish all those memories…….
Was a lonely refugee from Toronto in 1968, my first year at Carleton. That September saw Tom Rush on a Friday night and was so impressed went back on Saturday. I remember him talking about Joni Mitchell prior to playing his version “The Circle Game,” which was also the title of his first album.
As well, he praised the songwriting talent of Jackson Browne, the first time I had heard the name. Over my four years in Ottawa, I saw a number of great performers at Le Hibou: Bruce Cockburn, Jerry Jeff Walker, Larry Coryell, Muddy Waters/Otis Spann, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, Alex Taylor–brother of James–and his band, featuring Dickie Betts and Chuck Leavell. And, of course, seeing Neil Young was special..
It was a cold Saturday in late January 1969, less than a full house. Neil did all my favourite Buffalo Springfield songs and material from his first solo album, and he mentioned that he would soon be releasing an album with Crazy Horse, which I thought was a dumb name. What did I know? Because six months later, I bought “Everybody Knows this is Nowhere” at the Carleton bookstore, still have the vinyl.
A huge snowfall on a Saturday in late March or very early April blanketed the city in 1971, but those in the know believed the rumour and braved the weather to get to the midnight show, because it was whispered that the Grateful Dead would be playing. MC John Rousseau scanned the expectant crowd, said that we were in for a surprise, and then introduced the Five Man Electrical Band. So much for rumours, and the band opened up loud and did their tight harmonies. I remember the late Brian Rading rolling his eyes, smiling as he played.
I grew up about 3 houses away from Les Emmerson’s parents’ house so heard the Staccatos/5 Man Electrical Band practice more than a few times. Growing up in Ottawa was pretty fine…
My good friend Thor Moxness attended. He was invited by Harvey Glatt. Holly LeMoyne may have attended as well.
Quel plaisir de tomber sur ce site et de découvrir qu’un ancient confrère de Radio-Canada en était proprio à une certaine époque. Je me remémorais récemment un spectacle de Tbone Walker que j’avais vu au Hibou. Je Crois que c’était en ‘75, l’année que Tbone est décédé. Merci Denis.
I was 16, 1973, the twilight years of Le Hibou. Got a job as busboy for the summer and vacuumed up the energy and caché of the scene. I recall clearing up the ‘greenroom’ for Muddy Waters, bottles all over the place.
He staggered to the piano and played ‘Drunk Again’ (I think a Butterfield tune). That song still an earworm in my head to this day. I loved the prestige of being at the centre of Ottawa’s musical universe; Cockburn a regular, Bill Stevenson, Heaven’s Radio in it’s incarnations (Vince Halfhide, Korky, Terry Gillespie) and famous names I had no knowledge about until years later, too late. At least I may have cleared up the coffee cups of rock stars and they probably looked at me and said ‘thanks man’. So it rests a cherished memory, better than any summer camp.
Thank you, Denis, and PP for making a l this happen
I saw the James Cotton Blues Band there. It was my first ever concert. I was about 10 years old and my big brother snuck me in, telling me to stay low profile. It was standing room only and an elderly woman in the second row saw me and waved me over to sit on her lap. She was about 80 years old. I was afraid I’d break her legs with my weight but I needn’t have worried because I was a wisp of a girl. I’m pretty sure we were the youngest and oldest person in the audience, sitting there together, grooving to the music. It was magical!
To the lehibou….
Thanks for the music and memorable times.
Lonesme Dave Jablonski, or LSD for short, was a war resister who lived at The Fish Store, 73B Clarence Street, and cleaned up Le Hibou after hours. This was early 1970s. We all who also lived at The Fish Store were able to get into the place sometimes for free to hear acts like Howln’ Wolf & Bob Brozman. All of us were always close to broke. I worked next door at Gallery Five framing pictures, cutting glass and with a miter box cut perfect frames. Some at the Fish Store were draft dodgers; I was a deserter after a year in Vietnam.
A memory popped into my head recently so I looked through the booking for LeHibou on Sussex Drive and did not see the date that I was looking for. I think the date was around Jan.30 1966. I was in my teens and recall meeting my mother who desperately wanted to see a particular performer. Gordon Lightfoot. The weather it was terrible, one of the worst blizzards that Ottawa had, large amount of snow and very cold. It was snowing like crazy but Mom still wanted to go. I oly went there once and remember the place had a variety of tables & chairs, Chianti bottles with candles, a small stage with a brick wall behind. There were only maybe six people in the audience as people were avoiding being out in the blizzard. Gordon Lightfoot, and his two accompanying musicians decided to preform even though it must have been the smallest audience he ever played to. Needless to say it was a pleasure to have seen him perform, getting home afterwards was an absolute challenge. At the time we did not know how special it was to see this performance.
I believe it was 1967 and I was going to Merivale High school. My friends and I used to come into to town and temper seeing Joni Mitchell, Richie Havens and a singer named Tim Rose. He sang Hey Joe and for decades was sure he had authored it. Remembered it when Hendrix came out with his version. Le Hibou remains an important part of my Ottawa past.
Bonjour M. Faulkner,
J’écris un livre sur la carrière de Gilles Provost et j’aimerais converser avec vous au sujet des pièces de théâtre qu’il a montées à l’été 1965 au Hibou.
All these years down the road it was a pleasure and a privilege to see do many great musicians in such an intimate setting thank you Dennis for providing such a great place . the fact that so many have written the memories are a testimony to the importance of Le Hibou
Ottawa January 15, 2023
Dear Denis – it was a thrill for me to meet you. Thanks so much for introducing yourself at the intermission for OTTAWA SUITE at GCTC last Wednesday. I was so glad to meet you and in the second act, when we focused on the Le Hibou era, to be able to let the audience know you were there and hear their hearty applause to acknowledge and recognize the great success you achieved launching that beloved Café.
In our brief conversation I tried to express my gratitude to you for all the inspiring moments I got to experience at Le Hibou. I’m not sure I can adequately convey how deeply it affected me and just how much that close contact in a small club made big dreams seem possible and real.
Artists were right there living and breathing and creating right in front of me and I thought maybe someday I could join them.
OTTAWA SUITE seemed to touch a lot of people and their response bore out Rob Frayne’s inspired notion that these venues, and in Rob’s case Le Hibou especially, meant a lot to people seeking out art and music.
No better example of that was the applause that came for the names listed on cue cards the dancers displayed during Subterranean Homesick Blues. We borrowed from the Dylan/Pennebaker film of the song but decided to add the names of primarily local artists who appeared at Le Hibou. Each name got a warm round and by the end of the list the audience erupted to show affection for all our local heroes. Music legends you helped create.
In fact the list of bookings on this Recollections site is where I found them all. And as I said to you the other night the list is a jaw dropping testimony to the wealth of talent on offer and the importance of what you started.
I have heard from more than one friend that in telling the story I got some of the facts wrong. I apologize for some of the fictional divergences and I hope I can be forgiven for the exaggerations and embellishments. My memory and my enthusiasm as a fan are perhaps poor excuses for not getting the facts straight, but they’re all I got.
Thanks and thanks again for the great gift you gave us all. The legacy is enormous and I hope it gives you great pleasure and pride to know you created an Ottawa landmark the lives on through music and memory.
Coming across this site by chance was a happy experience as it brought back many fond memories of evenings at Le Hibou in the mid-sixties with my first wife, Helen, who died at age 23. I know we saw Tom Rush (and immediately bought his first album), Joni Mitchel and Gordon Lightfoot several times.
Helen even had a bit part in one of the productions, probably for children.
Thanks for creating such a wonderful venue.
So very many dear memories of Le Hibou. My very first date with the man I later married was for Tim Hardin (along with a dear friend, who was the A&E rep). (He was an air-host, so we got to go to the green room, after every show–wow!!) I had been locked into “normal” music for the previous five years, and what a mind-opener the Hibou shows were.
Dr. John was the next one.
After that, Bruce Cockburn. Murray MacLauchlin.
Kris Kristofferson, who told us all that the next big thing was going to be a guy named John Prine.
Jerry Jeff Walker played the night that Pierre Laporte’s body was found. We all went to someone’s home after the club closed. Walker was so traumatized by this–he kept saying this wasn’t supposed to happen in Canada. He played all night long, in that house–every time someone got up to leave, he’d start another song. That memory, his shock at something like this happening in CANADA, has always stayed with me.
It was a one-of-a-kind club, all the times we went there. No-one not our age group would ever understand what that experience, those times, were like. We were going to change the world, and all that music and lyrics, that told us what to aim for.
My friend’s sister saw ( Bruce Cockburn , when he was 18) play at ‘The Le Hibou’, ‘
I asked’, ‘what songs?’ ‘ I don’t remember,
but the atmosphere was ‘ electric!’
..that was quite something to hear, first hand.
A great memory of Gord Lightfoot playing at Le Hibou. Also that night Sandy MacSkimming was also playing at the venue and did “ Shoot Lower Sheriff – they are riding Shetland Ponies”. Another group (don’t remember their name) sung a Fred Neil classic – “ Another Side to this Life” – if you happen to know who the group was that did the Fred Neil number I would appreciate it if you could let me know. Those were the days. Regards GLYN