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Ottawa Rocks!


If you are a fan of rock n’ roll and particularly rock n’ roll in Ottawa, it is worth to visit the City of Ottawa Archives.   The City Archives has put together a wonderful exhibit called, Ottawa Rocks!

The exhibition takes a look at the history of rock n’ roll in Ottawa from the 1950s until today.  The jumping off point for the exhibit is when Elvis Presley played the Ottawa Auditiorium on April 3, 1957.  One unique artifact featured includes a blouse that was autographed by Presley the day of the Auditorium show.

All rock musical sub-genres are covered from the psychedelic 60s to the hard rock of the 70s and new wave in the 80s.   The venues where these bands performed are prominently featured like Le Hibou and later, Barrymore’s.  The exhibition even features the original sign from the well-known coffee house, Le Hibou.

I enjoyed seeing the vintage video of one of Ottawa’s first rock n’ roll bands, The Esquires.  Also, teen memories came flooding back when I saw the videos by the Ottawa groups, One to One and Eight Seconds. 

If you would like to expand your knowledge about rock n’ roll, a great place to visit is the Ottawa Public Library.  At the Main Library, we hold a complete collection on microfilm of the Ottawa Journal from 1885 until 1980 and the Ottawa Citizen from 1846 until today.  If you have a fond memory of a concert, you will be able to make a copy of the review or scan it to a USB stick and relive those memories

Legends, Icons & Rebels We also have books too numerous to mention about the history of rock n’ roll.  One of my favorites right now is by the legendary guitarist for the Band, Robbie Robertson.  His book, Legends, Icons & Rebels: Music that Changed the World, introduces the pioneers of rock n’ roll to a teen audience. 

The Ottawa Public Library website features a number of databases where you can download or stream music for free.  It can be visited here.

The exhibit Ottawa Rocks! is on-view at the James Bartleman Centre, City of Ottawa Archives until December 31, 2013.  Admission is free.  For more information visit their website

James Bartleman Centre
City of Ottawa Archives
Gallery 112
100 Tallwood Drive
Monday to Friday: 9 AM – 4PM
Saturdays (Sept. to May): 10AM – 5PM