Ottawa Folklore Centre closes after 38 years, files for bankruptcy, owner says

Ottawa musicians are bemoaning the loss of The Ottawa Folklore Centre, which closed its doors for good and is filing for bankruptcy after 38 years as a music store and school.

'This business is simply not sustainable,' owner writes

Ottawa Folklore Centre closes

8 years ago
Duration 1:33
The Ottawa Folklore Centre has closed its doors for good after 38 years in business.

Ottawa musicians are bemoaning the loss of The Ottawa Folklore Centre, which closed its doors for good and is filing for bankruptcy after 38 years as a music store and school.

The Ottawa Folklore Centre located at 1111 Bank St. is closing its doors, according to a letter from its owner. (Google Streetview)
"I'm very sad. It's definitely the passing of an era," said Lynn Miles, an award-winning Ottawa singer-songwriter who said she first started working in the store when she was 19 or 20 years old.

She later started giving music lessons at the centre, even teaching Alanis Morissette several times.

Keeping the business financially afloat has been a struggle from its time on Bronson Avenue decades ago to its current location at 1111 Bank St., according to a letter the owner posted on the front door of the shuttered business on Thursday.

"In recent years the challenge of keeping the OFC alive has been steadily increasing to the point where the impact on my personal life is no longer bearable," Arthur McGregor wrote.

"It has been quite clear that in spite of our ongoing efforts and personal sacrifices, this business is simply not sustainable."

'He's done an amazing thing'

Lynn Miles started working the store when she was 19 or 20, and later taught there. She's won several awards as a singer-songwriter. (Marc Labreque)
Miles said she feels bad for Arthur, adding that he worked "very, very hard."

"I hope he can take a break and breathe and realize that he's done an amazing thing for the city and that we appreciate everything he's done for us," she said.

Steve Marriner, another award-winning professional musician based in Ottawa, agreed. He started taking harmonica lessons at the centre in 1996 when he was about 11 years old, and later taught there.

"They've been such a fixture of the community and helping bring the gift of music to many people. There's sadness, for sure, but at the same time all good things must come to an end and unfortunately that's a reality in life," Marriner said.

Steve Marriner has won many awards with his band MonkeyJunk. He got his start taking harmonica lessons at the Ottawa Folklore Centre, and he later taught there. (Joanne Steventon/CBC)
"I applaud Arthur and all the teachers and all the staff who have ever been apart of it because 38 years is a pretty good run for a business. So my hat's off to them, but I'll be sad to see them go."

McGregor said the folklore centre has been his life's work, and a "true centre for musicians to come together as well as a centre for teaching."

A benefit concert held last year helped raised money to keep the centre afloat, he added, but that money has now run out.

"There will be customers, students, staff, suppliers, and teachers who will not understand this choice and who will lose earned income and payments for lessons and goods that the Folklore Centre will not be able to honour. I apologize for this. It is not for lack of trying," McGregor wrote.

Anyone who is owed money or were waiting for instruments from the folklore centre is being asked to call the bankruptcy trustee firm Ginsberg-Gingras at 613-729-4391 or 1-800-565-8149.


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