BOOK REVIEW – Reel Ottawa: A Memoir of One Man’s Love Affair With The Movies

By Theresa Wallace

From the age of five, when he went to see Snow White at the Regent Theatre at the corner of Bank and Sparks, Dan Lalande has been in love with the movies. One afternoon in high school, he needed to get out of a geography exam to see a just-released François Truffaut film playing at The Somerset. He claimed his grandfather was dying, a tall tale that landed him in the office of the principal, who called Lalande’s mother at work and handed him the phone. Lalande asked his mother quietly, tearfully, if his grandfather was going to pull through. His mother deduced what he was up to and said, “Oh son. You’ll make such a good actor.”

He got to see the movie, and a decade after he left Canterbury, it became Ottawa’s first high school for the performing arts. “I’d like to think I set the precedent,” fifty-nine-year-old Lalande notes.

Dan Lalande with his new book, Reel Ottawa: A Memoir. Photo by Nancy Huggett

Dan Lalande with his new book, Reel Ottawa: A Memoir. Photo by Nancy Huggett

It wasn’t all fun and games. At age 18, while riding a bus, Lalande realized a script he had just written was garbage. He contemplated ripping the pages from his binder and throwing them out the window. “I could see them populating Bank Street, like paper pigeons, fluttering between the businesses, somebody else’s problem now. But I didn’t do it.” He persisted, and went on to write, among other works, several TV series, a play, and five independent feature films.

Rick Kaulbars, who has lived on Main Street for decades, co-wrote that first feature film. “We were already good working buds from years of writing for various live and televised comedy shows,” Kaulbars explains. “One of the greatest joys was spending those months just laughing our butts off coming up with bits and ideas for the script. Then, getting to shoot it was even more fun. Dan was the star, but I did manage to get a little bit of on-camera time as the streaking assassin and a bank robbing getaway driver.”

With a foreword by writer Phil Jenkins, Lalande’s superbly written book is a love story about movies, family and our city. It’s part memoir, part reference book, all good.

Dan Lalande has lived on Belmont Avenue in Old Ottawa South for 26 years with his wife Nancy Huggett and their daughter Jessie, so it’s fitting that The Mayfair, on Bank Street near Sunnyside Avenue, is mentioned just four paragraphs into Reel Ottawa and is the last theatre celebrated in the section yearningly called The Movie Theatres We Loved. Whether or not the author intended it, his memoir reminds us that we are lucky to have one of the last two venerable Ottawa movie houses—The Bytowne recently got a reprieve—so close to Old Ottawa East. As the pandemic eases, The Mayfair, first opened in 1932, is still standing, and still well worth going to.

Reel Ottawa: A Memoir is in local bookstores, including Black Squirrel Books on Bank Street near Sunnyside Avenue. It’s available online at www.ottawapressandpublishing.com.

Filed in: Front Page Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

You might like:

From Russia with Much Love: “Old Ottawa East is a wonderful place surrounded by great people.” From Russia with Much Love: “Old Ottawa East is a wonderful place surrounded by great people.”
Taking DIY to New Heights… Is It a Bird? Is It a Plane? Good Grief, It Is a Plane! Taking DIY to New Heights… Is It a Bird? Is It a Plane? Good Grief, It Is a Plane!
Sharing Lunch With…AIDS Committee Sharing Lunch With…AIDS Committee
THE MAINSTREETER’S SPECIAL REPORT- Ottawa’s Community Newspapers Have Emerged Healthy and Vibrant From COVID THE MAINSTREETER’S SPECIAL REPORT- Ottawa’s Community Newspapers Have Emerged Healthy and Vibrant From COVID
© 5504 The Mainstreeter. All rights reserved. XHTML / CSS Valid.
Proudly designed by Theme Junkie.