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A Brief History of OST

The Ottawa StoryTellers have grown from an initial group of seven founding members to a flourishing organization with over a hundred members. As is customary among storytelling groups, our members include both professional and non-professional tellers as well as listeners, all on an equal footing.

The group's initial activity was the organization of a monthly story swap, an open stage at which anyone who wished could come and tell and / or listen to stories. This tradition has continued unbroken, twelve months a year, to the present day. For the past few years it has been held at the National Library of Canada on the first Thursday evening of each month.

Another activity undertaken from the beginning and continuing today is assisting our members in finding storytelling opportunities ("gigs") in the community, both paid and volunteer, and putting interested members of the public in touch with tellers available to perform at events.

In 1988 the first Ottawa StoryTelling Festival was organized. It has continued every year since, and in recent years has attracted several hundred attendees. This is our centrepiece event of the year, when we showcase storytelling at its best, with both local and imported tellers.

In 1994 the first series of "Epic Tales" was organized at Raspustin's Café, to provide a forum for the telling of longer traditional stories. Tellers have been mostly members of the Ottawa StoryTellers, with some from "away". This series, which is unique in Canada, continues every year under the title "Stories from the Ages", with presentations every Sunday evening in January, February and March.

In 1998, Ottawa StoryTellers, in association with the Billings Estate Museum of the City of Ottawa, presented the first of its Halloween Ghost Walks. In each subsequent year, the Ottawa StoryTellers has researched the Billings' family history to create a new evening of history, mystery, and fun for museum visitors. Members of Ottawa StoryTellers play the roles of various members of the Billings family and interact with the audience

In 1999 Ottawa StoryTellers was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization and was granted charitable status.

Since 2001, with the creation of the Fourth Stage at the National Arts Centre, Ottawa StoryTellers have presented a monthly concert series during the months of January through May. These concerts feature some of our most accomplished storytellers, and attract a wider audience.

In July, 2003, the Ottawa StoryTellers hosted the 4-day National Conference of the Storytellers of Canada / Conteurs du Canada for the first time in Ottawa.