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Archive for the 'Ottawa, ON' Category

June 21st, 2014 • Posted in Ottawa, ON

See the original Hippogriff

Most people, especially younger ones, know of the hippogriff thanks to Harry Potter, but as Wikipedia tells us, “the hippogriff is a legendary creature which resembles a winged horse with the head and upper body of an eagle.

The first recorded mention of the hippogriff was made by the Latin poet Virgil in his Eclogues. Though sometimes depicted during the Classical Era and during the rule of the Merovingians, it was first named and defined by Ludovico Ariosto in his Orlando Furioso, at the beginning of the 16th century. Within the poem, the hippogriff is a steed born of a mare and a griffin - it is extremely fast and is presented as being able to fly around the world and to the moon. It is ridden by magicians and the wandering knight Roger, who, from the creature’s back, frees the beautiful Angelica.

Sometimes depicted on heraldic coats of arms, the Hippogriff became a subject of visual art in the 19th Century, when it was often drawn by Gustave Doré.”

 Hippogriff, illustration by Gustave Doré for Orlando furioso.

Ludovico Ariosto‘s poem, Orlando furioso (1516) contains an early description (canto IV):

no fiction wrought magic lore,
But natural was the steed the wizard pressed;
For him a filly to griffin bore;
Hight hippogryph. In wings and beak and crest,
Formed like his sire, as in the feet before;
But like the mare, his dam, in all the rest.
Such on Riphaean hills, though rarely found,
Are bred, beyond the frozen ocean’s bound.
Drawn by enchantment from his distant lair,
The wizard thought but how to tame the foal;
And, in a month, instructed him to bear
Saddle and bit, and gallop to the goal;
And execute on earth or in mid air,
All shifts of manege, course and caracole;
He with such labour wrought. This only real,
Where all the rest was hollow and ideal.

According to Thomas Bulfinch‘s Legends of Charlemagne:

Like a griffin, it has the head of an eagle, claws armed with talons, and wings covered with feathers, the rest of its body being that of a horse. This strange animal is called a Hippogriff. The hippogriff is said to be an evil spirit resting and possessing its soul in that of a horse and griffon

Dore sculpture of Hippogriff at National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

Gustave Dore has to be one of the most well read artists in history. He had a grand scheme to illustrate all the great works of literature. Famous for his interpretations of Dante, Cervantes and Rabelais, Dore, tragically died, at age 51, just as he was starting on the plays of Shakespeare, so all we have are some sketches for The Tempest and MacBeth, both of which you can see in a terrific exhibition now on at the National Gallery of Canada. It runs throughout the summer, and Ottawa is the only  North American stop, so come on up here, and bring the whole family. Stay tuned for more. 



June 4th, 2014 • Posted in Ottawa, ON

Ottawa: Write by the Lake Writers’ Workshop/Retreat, July 7-11. Be there.

October 5th, 2013 • Posted in Ottawa, ON

33rd Ottawa Antiquarian Book Fair, Sunday October 27th, 2013

33rd Ottawa Antiquarian Book Fair will be held on Sunday October 27th, 2013 at Tudor Hall, which is located at 3750 North Bowesville Road, from 10:30am to 5:00pm. The Ottawa Antiquarian Book Fair is Canada’s oldest book fair. Ottawa, Canada’s capital has over 1,000,000 people in the greater Ottawa-Gatineau region and is conveniently located 2 hours from Montreal and 5 hours from Toronto. The fair will include over 40,000 items, dating from the 15th century to the present day, displayed for sale by 40 dealers from across Canada and the United States. The fair will be a one day event held at a convenient facility, Tudor Hall, frequently used for trade shows and exhibitions.

Find more details at the show’s website: Ottawa Antiquarian Book Fair or call 613- 232-7495; or email

August 22nd, 2013 • Posted in Ottawa, ON

Literary Tourist on the next Leader at Library and Archives Canada

A broad coalition of Canadian stakeholder organizations has developed an extensive list of qualities it believes the Librarian and Archivist of Canada should have “in order to be successful in this critical position of public trust and responsibility”.

The Literary Tourist has a much shorter list:

  • Love and passion for books, literature and history, and
  • The ability to communicate, engage and involve staff, bibliophiles and the public-at-large in the documenting and celebration of Canada’s past.

These qualities, plus, the Librarian must be given absolute power to swiftly implement any and all changes that he/she thinks will return documentary history to the central position it must occupy if Canada is to function as a successful democratic society.

For, without the vigorous courting of those who care about, publish and/or collect books, and their active involvement in the organization and celebration of the achievements of Canadians, Library and Archives Canada will remain, as it is now, an empty shell, devoid of life, serving little or no purpose.

August 13th, 2013 • Posted in London, England, Ottawa, ON

National Libraries: British and Canadian: A study in Contrasts

Here’s what’s coming up at the British Library for September 2013:

Speakers’ Corner at the British Library

Mon 2 Sep 2013 – Thu 5 Sep 2013, 13.00-13.45

Price: Free, no booking required  More

Dear World: Editors, Poets and Trans-Cultural Practice

Fri 6 Sep 2013, 18.30-20.30 Price: £4 / £3 concessions

Super Family Sunday : The end of Propaganda

Sun 8 Sep 2013, 11.00-16.00 Price: Free

Do the Right Thing

Mon 9 Sep 2013 Price: None

The Rediscovery of Wisdom

Mon 9 Sep 2013, 18.45-20.15 Price: £8 / £5 concessions

When Britain Burned the White House

Tue 17 Sep 2013, 18.30-20.30 Price: £8 / £5 concessions

Folk Song in England Study Day

Sat 21 Sep 2013, 09.30-17.00 Price: £10 (no concessions)

You are the Ref

Mon 23 Sep 2013, 18.30-20.00 Price: Free, booking essential

International Translation Day 2013

Mon 30 Sep 2013, 09.00-17.00 Price: £30 / £20 concessions

Boccaccio & Company: an introduction to the Decameron

Mon 30 Sep 2013, 10.00-16.00 Price: £25 / £20 concessions

Laughs in Translation

Mon 30 Sep 2013, 18.30-20.30  Price: £10 / £8 concessions

More  Book now

Here’s what’s coming up at Library and Archives Canada for September 2013:

That’s right. Absolutely nothing.

What’s wrong with this country anyway?

July 28th, 2013 • Posted in Ottawa, ON

Sometimes you see the most amazing things right out of your own back Window

May 4th, 2013 • Posted in Ottawa, ON

Literary Tourist favourite place in Ottawa

CBC’s Canada Writes recently conducted a contest called Hyperlocal asking Canadians to write/ photo/video/audio – in  stories about their neighbourhoods and how they’re changing.

Given that place is central to the Literary Tourist endeavour, here goes with our favorite place in Ottawa, Canada, and how it’s changed:

I moved into the area about 25 years ago (moved out about five years later, but still I love it). At the time it was touted as ‘up and coming’; to an extent it was, especially the blocks around Holland and Wellington. The independent bookstore Collected Works would soon move in, as would

World of Maps. About a block away there was the

St Vincent de Paul with its capaciously magnetic used-book selection.  Right next door, a few years later,

Bridgehead Coffee started to percolate. One block over Thyme and Again,

a trendy new eatery opened up for business.

Great choice of books, a good place to read ‘em, and delicious food nearby. The neighbourhood had it all. Collected Works offered all the latest, hottest titles, and a calendar full of authors reading from them. It was also the place for writing workshops. I took several from Rick Taylor – filled with faced-paced enthusiasm, these were truly memorable times. 

Fast forward a few years and a vegetarian restaurant opens up. More recently, a brand new building rises out of the ground

to house The Great Canadian Theatre Company.

As literary locations go, you couldn’t ask for more. This was tops. However, as the CBC contest guidelines allude to, things change, for the good, and the not so good.

This two block stretch in Ottawa went, over the years, from strength to strength; but last December it hit a nasty bump. Collected Works closed.

The lesson for those who care to learn it, is clear. Despite all of the new life and gentrification, this little strip remains precariously balanced between prosperity and poverty as do so many neighbourhoods in Canada and around the world, as do so many people, particularly artists and writers.

Several of these types of stores along these same few block on Wellington Street

attest to the fact both that life can be a struggle, and that when we can, we’re wise to support and nurture what we

love. Otherwise -  it disappears.

April 12th, 2013 • Posted in Ottawa, ON

Two Big Used Book Sales in Ottawa this Week(end)

If you’re anywhere near Ottawa this weekend check out:

 Rockcliffe Public Library Annual Book Sale
Location: 380 Springfield Road, Ottawa
10:00 AM – 6:00 PM Saturday
12:00 AM – 5:00 PM Sunday
Proceeds go to support the Rockcliffe Park branch of the Ottawa Public Library. Cash only.

and later on in the week:

First Avenue School Annual Book Sale
Location: 73 First Ave (at O’Connor)
4:00 PM – 9:00 PM Thursday April 18
10:00 AM – 9:00 PM Friday
10:00 AM – 5:00 PM Saturday
10:00 AM – 3:00 PM Sunday

March 23rd, 2013 • Posted in Ottawa, ON

Write by the River: Fiction Workshop, Ottawa, May 7 – August 13

“All good writing is swimming underwater and holding your breath.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

Feel like a whistling idiot! Take Richard Taylor’s Summer Fiction Workshop, English 2903A, Tuesday evenings, 6-9 p.m. from May-August. This half credit course will appeal to anyone interested in writing post card stories, short stories, novels, and creative nonfiction such as blogs, personal essays, humour, travel and memoir writing. Time will be devoted to fun, stimulating writing exercises, learning how to balance inspiration and discipline, finding a personal voice, choosing a subject and developing a sense of structure. For one assignment, the class will be organized into groups of three writers and each group will write a three chapter mini novel. There will be group critiques of works-in-progress. The workshop will consist of beginners, and more advanced writers of all genres. Warm evenings some class time will be on the banks of the Rideau River.

For more info contact Rick at, or check

Rick has published a collection of short stories, a novel, many feature magazine articles and an Australian travel memoir, House Inside the Waves: Domesticity, Art and the Surfing Life. For 21 years he has taught over 100 writing workshops in Ottawa, Hong Kong, Australia and Tuscany. Since 1995, when he was Carleton writer-in-residence, he has taught the Fiction Workshop, and recently, the Creative Nonfiction Workshop. His 8th Annual Write by the Lake summer writers retreat is in Val-des-Monts Quebec near a waterfall at his beautiful lake house, Monet Bay. Hundreds of Rick’s writers have published work as a result of taking his workshops. While surfing and swimming around the world, he is working on an unusual book about swimming with writers, Water & Desire.

March 2nd, 2013 • Posted in Ottawa, ON

Literary Tourist tip: go to the universities

Radcliffe Camera, Oxford.

Don’t forget, during your literary travel planning, to check out University event calendars. 

Campuses often host really interesting literary conferences, symposiums and reading series at which you can often meet leading authors and experts.

For example, coming up May 3-5 in Ottawa, the Canadian Literature Symposium will be exploring the life, work and books of Irving Layton. Brian Trehearne is the keynote speaker, he’ll be delivering a talk entitled Layton as Ethical Subject: The Later Poetry and the Return of Evil.

I’m particularly interested in Panel 2: Layton, Publishing and the Matter of Books set for 2.30 pm on the 3rd. It looks at Layton book design, with Michele Rackham talking on Betty Sutherland, and Cameron Anstee on Frank Newfeld.

I’m also pleased to see that poet critic Zach Wells will be part of the program, presenting on Layton’s connection with the Black Mountain poets.

Just prior to this symposium, Carleton University’s College of the Humanities will be co-hosting the ACTC Conference: Re-Thinking the Liberal Arts Through Core Texts: Science, Poetry, Philosophy and History. April 25-28 at the Chateau Cartier in Gatineau. Hundreds of papers, many dealing with the literary, will be presented at this conference.