Sale to John & Joan Russow

I had been a studio director for five years at CBC television while running Le Hibou at the same time. Since my work schedule varied, sometimes day and sometimes evening sometimes week ends, it allowed me flexibility. I could easily pop in at the coffee house in the evening after my shift which I did most of the time.

The last years I had at Le Hibou, John Russow was night manager. John, a Danish emigrant had married Joan, a long-time friend of my wife, Penny. Since he was trilingual, he spoke French fluently, and this was a bonus for the coffee house because I tried to maintain the bilingual aspect of the club. My goal at the CBC was to become a television producer. I would apply time after time, without success. I couldn’t understand why. I was a graduate of the University of Ottawa, was involved in theatre, even did some amateur films, yet no producer/director job offer. Frustrated, I went to see the station manager to discuss my situation. He seemed embarrassed about my query and offered as an explanation that they thought that my prime interest was Le Hibou and that at anytime I would quit the CBC. I quickly replied that on the contrary it was the other way around. On parting, he strongly advised that I should apply at the next vacancy. I did so and two months later, I became a television producer. But there was a caveat: I had to sign a letter stating that I had cut off any financial involvement with Le Hibou. The CBC didn’t want any conflict of interest since in the future I might be called upon to produce music television shows.

I signed the letter right away, glad to get the job, but then I wondered how I would dispose of Le Hibou. I knew that Harvey was not interested in buying, since in the last few years had rarely seen him. But then John and Joan Russow saved the day. He loved Le Hibou and was keen to buy it. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the immediate cash. Not wanting to set the price too high, I set it at $5000.00 which just barely covered the furnishings and equipment. The goodwill value was also not factored in. John was ready to pay the full amount, but on a monthly basis—one half to Harvey the other half to me. In retrospect, I probably should have split in a more equitable way, something like 90% to me and 10% to Harvey, since for all those years, I was never paid for managing Le Hibou. But I just wanted it done, and I didn’t bring it up, and nor did Harvey.

One reply on “Sale to John & Joan Russow”

I arrived in Canada in December of 1974 and the winter of 1975 found me attending Le Hibou with my guitar and my 60s repertoire from Joan Baez, Donavan. Steel Eyed Span , Buffy St Marie, and many traditional Cecil sharp a Capella ballads. I had two little boys and started by living in a high rise apartment., Le Hibou saved my sanity. I remember regular singers would take turns to go and sing at the prison in twos.
I wonder if anyone remembers those days?

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