Scans from 1960’s event magazine “What’s On in Ottawa” give a glimpse into our cultural history


Several issues of What’s On in Ottawa magazine, spread out on my kitchen table.

Andrew Tidman recently sent along several copies of a 1960s Ottawa magazine called What’s On in Ottawa.  It was full of local event listings, tourist attractions, restaurants and nightclubs, and operated for 10 years, publishing 116 issues.  Tidman’s family ran the magazine, which was aimed primarily at tourists and visitors.

The magazines provide a fascinating glimpse into the cultural life of our city 50 years ago.  I scanned in about 150 images and adverts from the magazine and shared them here.  I’ve highlighted some of my favourites below.

If any our readers remember any of these establishments, I’d like to hear about it. You can leave a comment below, or send an email to  Also Andrew is looking for ideas on what to do with these magazines. Is there a museum or archival organization who would be interested in these?

Liberace and Perry Como and SuperEx 1966.

Johnny Cash at the Capitol Theatre on Queen Street.
“Swingers, sophisticates, chicks and cats make the liveliest scene in town…”
The Talisman is now the Travelodge Hotel, and Andrew King wrote a good piece on it here.

I love the design in this ad.  “Free toy guardsman for each youngster”
One of Ottawa’s old department stores.  Note the “OTC Bus Stop” sign.
Another old department store – Freimans.  They used to be at Westgate, and on Rideau Street where The Bay is now.
Ogdensburg as a tourist destination.
There used to be a wax museum on Sparks Street. It included a diorama of D’Arcy McGee’s assassination.

Great retro logo. (Andrew King t-shirt design?)

Before we had 24-hour Shoppers Drug Marts, we had drug stores that opened on Sundays.
This is now a really nice condo overlooking Lebreton Flats.

A listing of some of Ottawa’s vintage cafeterias.

The “Specific Writers Association” intrigues me.

Christopher Ryan recently wrote a good history of this development.

The legendary coffee house Le Hibou. “Hootenanny every Monday from 9pm, admission 50 cents.”

Big thanks to Andrew Tidman for sharing these magazines! You can see all 150+ scans here.

See also: Ottawa Entertainment Guide
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Glen Gower

Glen is the owner and founder of He lives in Stittsville, one of Ottawa's most exciting suburbs.


7 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    OH MY GOODNESS: This brings back so many many good memeories. Thanks so much for sharing. I think it was much better then than now!!!!!!<br />

  2. Anonymous says:

    Love this! I&#39;ve just returned to Ottawa after almost 30 years away and remember these places in the 60&#39;s and 70&#39;s.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I would suggest Andrew contact the City of Ottawa Archives to see whether they would be interested in these.

  4. Glen Gower says:

    The Sparks Street wax museum only operated for a couple of seasons. Some of the figures were shipped to Nova Scotia. Does anyone know where they ended up?

  5. I loved this and went through everything you posted over on Google images too. The graphics and historical info is fascinating. And as someone with a passion for vintage magazines and ads who has done posts based on my collection, I know how much time is involved in doing these things, so thanks for all your efforts.

  6. I&#39;m not sure I can ever go back to any other place, after an experience like this. This place is appropriate in a space that lends so much gravitas to events.

  7. Lyn Murta says:

    Does any one remember a restaurant in an old house od Nepean St. In the 60’s ran by two old ladies in thei hime?

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