Tim Wieclawski/Metro Ottawa


Storytellers Tom Lips and Elizabeth Ellis share T’was a Dark and Stormy Night for adults during opening night of the Ottawa Storytellers Festival’s event last night.

Ottawans are slowly stepping back into the past as storytelling grows in popularity here.

And nothing could make Patrick Holloway happier.

“Storytelling develops the imagination, more than any other art form,” said Holloway, a storyteller and the Ottawa Storytelling Festival’s spokesman.

“In a book, if you don’t get it the first time, you can reread it,” he said. “With storytelling, you have to follow along with the pace of the storyteller.

“When it works, it’s absolute magic, because you’ve created a world in your head.”

The 19th annual Ottawa Storytelling Festival did just that as it opened with T’was a Dark and Stormy Night at the National Arts Centre last night.

The event, which featured Texas teller Elizabeth Ellis, Ottawa storyteller Tom Lips and Gatineau storyteller Jacques Falquet, was a packed event with approximately 150 people.

Like many festivals, it started as a local event, said Holloway. Over the years, it’s grown enormously, attracting tellers and audience members from around the world.

In addition to Ellis, one of the festival’s featured tellers is Chirine El-Ansary, a teller from Egypt who specializes in stories from the Book of 1001 Nights.

“Storytelling is just growing,” said Bob Margeson, a storyteller and the president of Ottawa Storytellers.

“Ottawa Storytellers has more and more events that we’re putting on,” he said. The group holds about 200 tellings a year.

About 1,500 people are expected to attend over the five-day festival.

to each their own

  • Good storytellers know their stories and feel them, Patrick Holloway says. Every teller has a different style — while some prefer traditional folk tales, others like stories with a bit of an edge.