History

Sasquatch Information Page

The SASQUATCH Writers’ Performance Series was founded by Juan O’Neill, who remained its chair until his death on March 15, 2006. Juan has provided the following eloquent description of what constitutes the essence of the SASQUATCH series…

Often, the artist is like a hairy beast, hiding in the forest.”Jane Jordan

 This prescient remark by Ottawa’s “Dean of Poets” twenty years ago prompted me to start a program aimed at bringing those “hairy beasts” out of the forest and into a well-lit place where they could — in the succinct language of the Sixties — “do their thing”.

SASQUATCH is far more than a poetry reading series, it is a recreation of the European “cafe des artistes” tradition: an afternoon of music and words (poetry, stories, short sections of novels), sometimes films, paintings, even acting and dance, staged in a friendly cafe setting, in which it is entirely permissible, even mandatory, for the  audience to dialogue with the performers.

SASQUATCH is currently meeting on the second and forth Sunday at the Royal Oak II, 161  Laurier East between Cumberland and King Edward (Sandy Hill), in the downstairs room, 2:00PM – 4:30PM. Admission is free and the “Oak” is fully licensed.. There is always an open set and usually one, sometimes two featured guests. We have met on and off since 1980 in various Ottawa cafes (“The Blue Gardenia”, “Pepper’s”, “The Wildflower”, “The Centurion”, “Rosie Lee”, “The Glebe Cafe”, “The Rideau Cafe”, “Cock Robin”, “The Dunvegan Pub”), in a format of party rather than serious artistic communion. SASQUATCH is an environment where everybody is welcome, from seasoned pro to beginner. The point is participation. Our proudest boast is that many people have crossed their personal Rubicon, that “line in the sand”, that point of no return, and got up in front of a live audience and presented their work for the first time at SASQUATCH.We have over the years had periods when we have been funded by The Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the City of Ottawa (formerly the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton). At other times we simply “pass the hat”. Everybody shares in the bounty and everybody shares in the good times. We intend to keep it that way. The names of people who have appeared at SASQUATCH over the years is like a roster of the writers of Ottawa and includes distinguished colleagues from other parts of Canada as well.