In a recent Ottawa Chamberfest lecture at the National Gallery of Canada, noted CBC radio host Robert Harris traced the lines of a remarkable story: how five Jewish World War II refugees each ended up playing key roles in the development of music in Canada.
In many ways, their story echoes the story of Dr Lotta Hitschmanova, also a Jewish refugee who left a lasting impact on the social and humanitarian landscape of her adopted country.
The five musical icons were Helmut Kallmann, Helmut Blume, Franz Kraemer, John Newmark and Walter Homburger. Continue reading
“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.
The public image that Dr Lotta Hitschmanova projected to millions of Canadians – through her famous TV and radio ads in the 60s and 70s – was that of a sincere, compassionate, caring, very serious human being.
As I have suggested elsewhere, she was our conscience, our national priest, rabbi and imam, all rolled into one. And yet.
For 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.
“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
Seldom has a newcomer to a country left such a nation-wide legacy as Lotta Hitschmanova has in her adopted land.
Indeed, I have argued that she was a refugee who literally changed Canada, for the better.
Peter Lockyer, who directed Soldier of Peace, Lotta’s film documentary, has reflected on the impact that Lotta and many other newcomers have had and concluded that “immigrants make the best Canadians.”
If you’d like to learn more, or hear Lotta’s voice again, have a viewing of Lockyer’s excellent video, Soldier of Peace.
Why 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?
Millions of Canadians still remember that unique and iconic voice of Lotta Hitschmanova.
For who can forget her distinctive Czech accent (and unique uniform) during those TV and radio PSAs that were broadcast almost daily in the 1960s and 70s? Continue reading
A special note from Peter Lockyer, producer of Lotta’s documentary, Soldier of Peace:
“I think it’s a wonderful site and thanks so much for thinking of me and the documentary program we did on Lotta Hitschmanova of the USC so many years ago.
“Lotta was an amazing individual and there will never be another person like her. Continue reading