The Clifford quilters – a unique patch of Canadian social history

Members of the Carry on Club at Gramma Jo’s restaurant in Clifford. Front: From left, Esther Hallman and Jean Field. Back: Marion Derbecker, Ruth Anne Cummings, Lynne Nancekivell and Phyllis Kaufman. Photo by Bonnie Whitehead

I came across a remarkable news item recently, in the Wellington Advertiser, a community paper in southwestern Ontario. Continue reading

Like Lotta, these Jewish refugees made a lasting impact on Canadian society

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

Lotta Hitschmanova: What it Means to be a Refugee

“To be a refugee, to be without a home, to be without country, to be without friends … you have no more roots, you have no one to turn to.”

Lotta Hitschmanova (1909-1990) became one of Canada’s most beloved humanitarians and a role model and champion for women’s rights.

Before this, however, Lotta experienced the extreme pain of being uprooted, from her beloved Czech homeland, wandering across Western Europe as a refugee from 1938 to 1942. Continue reading

Little known Lotta facts for a Friday: a big mystery solved!

Czech costumes,1943, Ottawa. Lotta top row 2nd left. Photo courtesy of Heather Haas Barclay.

Did you know that Lotta Hitschmanova performed in the same Ottawa theatre as Vladimir Horowitz, Glenn Gould, Nat King Cole and Jimi Hendrix?

Earlier, we posted an article that included this remarkable 1943 photo of Lotta and other women dressed in traditional Czech costumes.

Continue reading

Little known Lotta facts for a Friday: her unique name

Lotta was born in Prague on November 28, 1909. She was raised as “Lotta Hitschmann” by two loving Jewish parents, Max Hitschmann and Else Theiner.

With the rise of the Nazis and the Munich Pact of September 1938, Lotta, an outspoken critic of the Nazis, began her perilous four year journey as a refugee. She first found a point of refugee in Brussels, where her life as “Lotta Hitschmanova” began in 1939.

Here is what Clyde Sanger has written in his biography of Lotta (page 20): Continue reading

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

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

Human Rights a Day – Nov 28 is for Lotta

Stephen Hammond has posted a tribute to Lotta on her birthday today, Nov 28.

He has created a unique website. Here is how he describes it:

Join me every day for Human Rights a Day. It’s a journey through 365 Days of Human Rights Celebrations and Tragedies That Inspired Canada and the World. Continue reading