Video: Friederike Knabe remembering Lotta

“A lot of the volunteers I met had met Lotta for the first time in primary school. For their life, they never forgot it. They never forgot Lotta coming to their class, almost to the date when it happened, in ’58 or ’62, whenever it was. It was such an impression on them, that they became volunteers at an early age.”

In 2009, more than 50 events were held coast to coast to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dr Lotta Hitschmanova (1909-2009). In Ottawa, USC Canada organized a special “Lotta 100” event to honour their founder. Sherry Tompalski and Graham Thompson were on hand and recorded interviews of participants who shared their recollections and stories about Lotta.

Here is the first in this series, an interview with Friederike Knabe.

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What do Céline Dion, Oscar Peterson, Jean Béliveau and Lotta Hitschmanova all have in common?

What could possibly link together such a diverse group of beloved Canadians: a singer, a pianist, a hockey player and a humanitarian?

Could it be that each became household names far beyond the borders of Canada? That starting from very humble beginnings, each has made an enduring mark in their respective professions? Or might it be the uniforms that both Lotta and Jean Béliveau wore? Continue reading

The Bruce Cockburn – Lotta Hitschmanova connection: “She radiated love and concern”

Bruce CockburnIn 1995, award-winning singer-songwriter, activist and humanitarian, Bruce Cockburn recalled how he first came to know and admire Dr Lotta in Ottawa: Continue reading

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

Sharing a Lotta Story: “Dad and Dr. Lotta”

“In any world menu, Canada must be considered the vichyssoise of nations–it’s cold, half-French, and difficult to stir.” — Stuart Keate

“They made an interesting couple.”

Thus wrote Kathryn-Jane Hazel, recalling the remarkable personal connection her father, noted B.C. newspaper publisher Stuart Keate, had with Lotta Hitschmanova.

NB: Stuart Keate was inducted into the Canadian News Hall of Fame in 1974 and received the Order of Canada in 1976. Future blog posts will bring out more of the special Stuart Keate – Lotta Hitschmanova connection. 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?

 

The most iconic – and confusing – uniform in Canadian history?

museum-of-history-hitschmanova-bio-portraitaLotta and her iconic uniform were inseparable. She wore it everywhere. It became part of her public persona.

And it inevitably led to some misunderstandings and amusing stories that she herself would enjoy relating.

Here is what her biographer, Clyde Sanger, has written on page 150 of his book, “Lotta and the Unitarian Service Committee Story.” 

“Dr Lotta’s sense of humour made her collect stories of misunderstandings about her uniform: Continue reading