How to save Sparks Street – Lotta may offer the answer

A recent Ottawa Citizen column re-ignited a debate about what to do with Canada’s first pedestrian mall on Sparks Street. Here is my response:

As someone who worked on Sparks Street for two decades, I have followed with some interest the debate on whether this street can be “saved” or not. Continue reading

Celebrating a Canadian “pioneer” on International Women’s Day

“Development often starts with a woman. Support leadership programs for women through the USC, 56 Sparks Street, Ottawa.”

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let’s give a thought to one of our pioneering women leaders, Lotta Hitschmanova, and the impact she had on her adopted country, Canada.

Quite remarkably, as a refugee, she became perhaps the most prominent Canadian woman of her generation. But more than that, she pushed hard for women’s development around the world, well before this became a key approach followed by international development agencies.

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Thanks for visiting: 1000th visitor received at Lotta56sparks.ca

This week, the new Lotta56sparks.ca blog has received its 1,000th visitor!

Sincere thanks to those who have dropped by to reminisce or learn something new about Lotta Hitschmanova, and special appreciation for those who have shared their own “Lotta stories” so others can learn about this inspiring refugee to Canada and the unique part she played in Canadian social history.

In case you missed them, here are the 5 most popular blog posts to date: Continue reading

Special Bank of Canada survey, Update #3: the ultimate paradox, Lotta’s name isn’t well known

Lotta Hitschmanova on a Canadian bank noteFor me, one of the more surprising results of the Bank of Canada’s survey on 12 “bank-notable” women was how few people (29%) recognized Lotta Hitschmanova’s name.

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Mike Myers, Lotta Hitschmanova, and on being Canadian

Mike Myers, Shelagh Rogers, CBC radio photo

“What does it mean to be Canadian? Well, for one thing, if you’re of a certain age (Mike Myers is 53), it means you have stored away in your memory banks one of Canada’s most famous addresses, 55 Sparks Street, Ottawa 4 – or was it 56 Sparks?” Continue reading

2016 in review: thanks for the memories!

We started Lotta56sparks.ca on Lotta’s 107th birthday, November 28, not quite knowing how a blog dedicated to this humanitarian “pioneer” would be received.

Ottawa, 1943.

Since then, over 700 individuals have visited the blog!

Sincere thanks to everyone who has helped spread the word, with a special nod to the Lost Ottawa Facebook group.

Here are the most popular stories of 2016:

  1. Sharing a Lotta story: “She loved to party.”
  2. The most iconic – and confusing uniform in Canadian history?
  3. How did a Jewish refugee to Canada become a Unitarian “saint”? Part I. NB: Part II to be posted in 2017, stay tuned.
  4. 56 Sparks St – Canada’s most famous address?

 

A Christmas message from Lotta: friendship and love

Lotta Hitschmanova was a letter writer extraordinaire. So many times in my travels across the country, individuals have shared with me their joy at having received a personal, hand written note from Lotta, and some have even safe guarded these notes as keepsakes in treasured locations in their homes.

Here is a remarkable, touching letter that Lotta wrote to a friend in Moose Jaw in 1983: Continue reading

56 Sparks St – Canada’s most famous address?

56-sparks-photoWhy is it that so many visitors come to Ottawa from across Canada, and after taking a tour of Parliament Hill, they find themselves strolling down the Sparks Street Mall, when all of a sudden, they catch sight of a big door with the number 56 on top of it, their eyes pop out with incredulity, they come to a quick stop and then they start taking souvenir snapshots – to show the folks back home – to prove that there really was, and is, a 56 Sparks Street?

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Happy Birthday Lotta! Though you won’t be printed on our $100 bills, you will always be etched in our hearts.

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Welcome to the launching of Lotta56sparks.ca – on this, the 107th anniversary of one of Canada’s most beloved humanitarians!

Though Dr. Lotta did not make it onto the Bank of Canada’s short list of five women banknote candidates, there is still much cause for celebration, and indeed for reflection on the lasting impact that she has had on our Canadian society. Continue reading