Le Hibou

521 Sussex Drive

Written by Bytown Museum on 03/Dec/2009

A photograph of a poster for a performance by Odetta at Le Hibou
A photograph of the exterior of Le Hibou on Sussex Street A photograph of the interior of Le Hibou on Sussex Street

Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Sneezy Waters, Gordon Lightfoot, BB King. These are just a few of the incredible musicians who have played at Ottawa's legendary Le Hibou Coffee House.

Le Hibou's roots go back to a small apartment on Rideau Street in 1960. Students paid a $2 membership fee to enjoy music, poetry and theatre. It was also a venue to discuss current political events. By 1965, Le Hibou had moved to 521 Sussex Drive and owners David Faulkner and Harvey Glatt began booking bigger acts.

For the next few years, Le Hibou was the place to be. It featured poetry readings by Leonard Cohen and Irving Layton, Monday night jams with Bruce Cockburn and even a children's theatre series.

After struggling for a few years, Le Hibou closed its doors in 1975, but the famous coffee house lives on in the hearts of many.

Do you have a Le Hibou story to share with us?


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The infamous tavern, Chateau Lafayette, was located just around the corner on York St.; between "The Laf" and Le Hibou we were well covered! I recognize so much of the talent mentioned above.....also saw a lot of Terry Gilespie and "Heaven's Radio". Such an amazing era for Ottawa's young people and lovers of great music. It was a meeting place for all of us.
What a time we had. Thanks for posting this.

Janet Jefferson, Monday, November 25, 2013

I live in NB and remember seeing a solo Gordon Lightfoot at Le Hibou when he was pretty much unknown. He told the audience that he had slept the night on a park bench near Parliament Hill. Saw him again, there, years later when he had a band and was commercially successful.
My Le Hibou highlight was seeing Sonny Terry and Browny Magee with my future wife, Karen.
Anyone remember a band, with a female lead singer, called "The Knack" who played Lovin'Spoonful-type music?

Ron Garston, Sunday, September 01, 2013

I went there with Deb Lahaise in the late 60's I think it was. I was a dork in a suit, and it was GREAT! Oh Deb where are you now? Not to mention Eric McGaughey (I know I didn't spell his name right). My first love!

Bill Purcell, Tuesday, August 07, 2012

I had to sneak there. My dad thought is was a hangout for hippies, bless his heart. I saw Gordon Lightfoot and was in heaven. I remember over hearing them upstairs , on a break, that they wanted a beer and
so they headed for Hull.
It was always great there. Nice to look back at all these memories and to see the pictures.

Judy Beardall, Saturday, June 16, 2012

My first time there I went with my then boyfriend, later husband Steve Forster. We saw Muddy Waters. Great night out. Memories memories memories. Wish we could have it again.

Joanne Forster, Saturday, June 16, 2012

During my high School years, I spent a long time commuting between St Patrick's High School and Manor Park... each day I would hang out at Le Hibou, drinking excessive amounts of coffee after school and witnessing a changing generation and culture unfolding before my eyes through music, poetry and verse. Later as a bassist in a a group called Raspberry Umbrella we grew our own musical style from the experiences at Le Hibou.... A time well remembered...

Akos Sandor, Sunday, June 03, 2012

I was in a band called the Mozart Group. We moved to Montreal from Saskatchewan in July of 1968 and our first gig was at the Montreal Pop Festival along with The Who, The Troggs, Mitch Rider, etc. In late August of that year we drove to Ottawa and played at Le Hibou one weekend. We really liked the club.
Four months later we opened our own club in Montreal on Cote de Liesse called Sister Rae's. They were heady times indeed.
For more information on the Mozart Group and Sister Rae's, visit:
https://www.facebook.com/#!/The.Mozart.Group

mister brown, Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Je me souviens très bien de ce café. Tout le monde en parlait comme un lieu de rencontre littéraire et artistes renommés. Je connais bien l'ancien propriétaire Denis Faulkner et j'ai toujours eu beaucoup d'admiration pour lui. C'est de sa Claire de Richmond, B.C. que j'ai appris que Denis préparait un livre sur l'histoire de fameux café. Je vais certainement surveiller lorsque son livre sera publié. Félicitations à toi Denis et j'ai très hâte de te lire.
En souvenir de notre jeunesse
Marguerite Gauthier (amie de Claire)

Marguerite Gauthier, Monday, January 16, 2012

I remember a Christmas visit to this club in 1968.A trio called The New Esquires were playing Paul Butterfield and Cream numbers and other songs of the day. I remembered a simple stage against a long brick wall.I googled the photo and there it was. My memory is better than I thought. What a nice evening, drinking pop and listening to an electric blues-rock band. What a time to be in your teens.

Murray Sanders, Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nice picture ... brings back memories. Jack Elliott eating my wife's carrot cake; Eric Andersen and Tom Rush alternating sets (Rush:"I can take Andersen on with one hand tied behind my back"); Jim Queskin & the Jug Band; Gary Davis (who stayed at my place while in Ottawa). And I'll never forget that night in summer 1967 when Joni Mitchell danced out front on Sussex Street beneath the midnight stars.

Mike McGuire, Wednesday, May 04, 2011

I moved to Ottawa in 1970 (from Michigan) and worked/hung out at Le Hibou from 1970 to 1972 when I moved to Vancouver. Thanks to some of the music I heard there and one performer in particular (John Jarvis, itinerate classical guitarist)I was inspired to study the classical guitar seriously and that led to a performing and teaching career that continues today...
Alan Rinehart (www.alanrinehart.com)

Alan Rinehart, Thursday, March 03, 2011

InI saw buddy Guy, T-boone walker,Bruce Cockburn Syrinx,first moog I heard, a great place to hear blues ...extra good times in my late teens Helmut

helmut, Thursday, October 14, 2010

Some performances that I can remember after all these years seeing at Le Hibou were by:

Tim Hardin, Jerry Jeff Walker ("Mr. Bojangles" concert), 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, McKenna Mendelsohn Mainline, Modern Rock Quartet (MRQ) Sneezy Waters And The Excellent Band, and the Otis Spann Blues Band. There were others, but these are the ones I remember with clarity.

Tony Hitsman, Wednesday, July 28, 2010

P.-P. Lafrenière's naming of the other owners are welcomed additions. Indeed, Denis Faulkner was owner from 1960 to 1968.

J.Y. Pelletier, Wednesday, April 07, 2010

You need to correct your text the founder and
owner was Denis Faulkner, John and Joan Russow were
owners from 1968 to 1972, Pierre-Paul Lafreniere and Dapne Birks were owners from 1972 to 1975.

Pierrre-PaulLafreniere, Sunday, March 21, 2010

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