In Memoriam: Gerry Brown, Winnipeg (1919-2018)

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“I remember a slight woman in an olive military suit who held the room spellbound.”

I was saddened recently to find out that Gerry Brown, a long-time fan and supporter of Dr Lotta Hitschmanova, had passed away in Winnipeg at the age of 98.

Gerry was one of USC Canada’s most dedicated volunteers and Board members. She first met Lotta in Vancouver in 1944, and decades later she joined USC’s legendary group of Winnipeg volunteers at Firehall #5.

Here is a biographical note that Gerry wrote in 2012.

David Rain Continue reading

Video: The Life and Times of Lotta Hitschmanova

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On October 23, 2016, a panel discussion on the life of humanitarian Lotta Hitschmanova was organized by Rev. John Marsh of the Canadian Unitarian and Universalist Historical Society and was filmed by USC Canada at their office at 56 Sparks Street in Ottawa.

Panelists included former USC Canada Board chair Clyde Sanger, also Lotta’s biographer; David Rain, former USC Canada employee, now editor of this Lotta56sparks.ca blog; Joy Thierry Llewellyn, author of “Lotta Hitschmanova: Canada’s ‘Mother Teresa’ with Attitude“, and Kate Green, USC Canada’s program manager for Asia.

Video: Sheryl-Elaine Brazeau tells Lotta’s story

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Sheryl-Elaine’s Lotta story has been told in many settings. Her hope is that “it continues to inspire bold, passionate women everywhere.”

In the early 1970s, Sheryl-Elaine Brazeau held one of the most unique positions in all of Canadian society: she was Lotta Hitschmanova’s personal secretary at the office of USC Canada at one of Canada’s most celebrated addresses, 56 Sparks Street in Ottawa.

Four decades later, Sheryl-Elaine had developed her skills to become one of Ottawa’s gifted storytellers. One day, she decided to apply those skills in a unique way – to honour Dr Lotta by crafting an extended story with the title, “The Early Life of Lotta Hitschmanova.” Continue reading

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

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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 thanks to the Canadian Unitarian Council

Have you signed the petition? Let’s put Lotta on a commemorative stamp!

Sincere thanks to the Canadian Unitarian Council for raising awareness about the lotta56sparks.ca blog in the CUC’s January e-newsletter.

I invite anyone with stories or reminiscences about Lotta Hitschmanova and what she meant to them to share them here, so others can learn about this great Canadian social justice pioneer.

Thank you, David Rain

2016 in review: thanks for the memories!

Have you signed the petition? Let’s put Lotta on a commemorative stamp!

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?

 

Sharing a Lotta Story: “She loved to party”

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Lotta in Ottawa, 1943.

Lotta Hitschmanova is revered by many as a kind of “saint”, but she was as human as the rest of us, had a great sense of humour, and apparently in her early days, loved to party!

Here is a Lotta story shared by Heather Haas Barclay of London, Ontario, as she recalls the remarkable personal connection her parents had with Lotta. Continue reading

How did a Jewish refugee to Canada become a Unitarian “saint”? Part I

Have you signed the petition? Let’s put Lotta on a commemorative stamp!

How did a World War II refugee, born into a Jewish family in Prague, Czechoslovakia, become a revered figure for Unitarians, a small liberal religious faith in Canada?

The following is a brief response to this question, taken from Clyde Sanger’s 1986 biography, “Lotta and the USC Story.” Continue reading