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Ottawa Pop Culture

Ottawa has been a folk-music hotbed since the heady 1960s when Bruce Cockburn played at the long-gone Le Hibou Coffee House on Sussex Drive. The city’s current stars include Lynn Miles and Ian Tamblyn. Rock bands come and go, often down the road to Toronto and Montreal. The city has often served as an atmospheric setting for fiction. The Ladies’ Killing Circle, a local collective of mystery novelists, has published several anthologies of short stories set in and around the capital. Charles de Lint has used it as a backdrop for many of his urban fantasy novels, and Brian Doyle has set some of his children’s books in the Ottawa of his 1940s childhood. “The Best Laid Plans,” an Ottawa-set political satire by local author Terry Fallis, won the 2008 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour. While Ottawa sometimes stands in for other places in Hollywood movies—most notably as snowy Kansas City for a few scenes in the Paul Newman movie Mr. and Mrs. Bridge—few films have featured the city as itself. Two of the best-known productions focused, not surprisingly, on prime ministers both real and fictional: the 2002 TV mini-series “Trudeau,” starring Colm Feore in the title role; and the 2004 mini-series “H2O,” starring Paul Gross, a film about a son who takes over PM duties for his deceased father and becomes embroiled in chaos and conspiracy.