Little known Lotta facts for a Friday: she stayed in the Vice-regal Suite!

For the better part of four decades, Lotta Hitschmanova was one of the most travelled humanitarians, spending months at a time on the road, in Canada and abroad.

She stayed in many different types of lodging, some of which were humble indeed. There was one spot, however, that draws our attention today, as Lotta frequently stayed in a Vice-regal Suite. Do you know where this was?

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CANADA’S HISTORY includes Lotta in its list of 36 great women

In 2016, the respected journal Canada’s History published a list of 30 great Canadian women. Along with many others, this writer suggested that a celebrated refugee to Canada, Dr Lotta Hitschmanova, might also be included in such a list.

Last week, on International Women’s Day (March 8), Canada’s History has responded by publishing a list of 36 more great women, including Lotta!

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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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Little known Lotta facts for a Friday: she didn’t get her American visa

1942 canadian postage stampAfter 4 years of wandering around Europe as a refugee, Lotta Hitschmanova applied for a visa to immigrate to America.

She was rejected, but in January 1942, she received the following message in a telegram, as related by Lotta’s biographer, Clyde Sanger:

“Hitschmanova Canadian duration visa granted.”

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Little known Lotta facts for a Friday: from wineries to firehalls – “life in the trenches”

‘The smell was enough to give you the DTs.”

Lotta Hitschmanova inspired thousands of USC Canada supporters from coast to coast, many of whom packed clothing for shipment to those in need overseas. Sometimes they volunteered in unusual circumstances, as Lotta’s biographer Clyde Sanger has noted:

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Would Lotta have marched?

Lotta Hitschmanova, Cyprus, 1950s

“It seems to have been an instinctive desire on her part to bring out the leadership qualities she knew were in so many talented women she met, and an intuition that their ideas on human development would match her own.”

As millions of women and men around the world march to the cry of “women’s rights are human rights” – amid calls for greater tolerance, social justice, dignity and respect – a tiny candle of remembrance lights itself in honour of our women’s rights pioneers of times passed.

Lotta Hitschmanova (1909-1990) was one of those early pioneers.

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Little known Lotta facts for a Friday: They danced till they dropped in North Vancouver!

From the 1940s to the 1980s, Lotta Hitschmanova inspired thousands of Canadians to empty their pockets to support USC Canada‘s work with the needy in far off lands.

Teenagers were by no means immune to Lotta’s appeals for help, as this small nugget from Clyde Sanger’s biography of Lotta indicates:

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Little known Lotta facts for a Friday: Stanfield’s underwear, USC volunteers, and Truro NS

Stanfield’s, Truro, Nova Scotia

Lotta Hitschmanova inspired a legion of loyal volunteers supporting her and USC Canada’s work right across the country. Truro NS was no different in this regard, but they did have one key asset that other communities lacked, as related by Clyde Sanger in his 1986 biography of Lotta:

“Some [USC] branches had certain advantages, like the Truro branch which was just down road from Stanfield’s Ltd., the family woollen and textile firm that has never looked back since the Klondike Gold Rush spread the fame of its unshrinkable underwear across North America. Continue reading