Before there was Giving Tuesday there was Lotta Hitschmanova!

Lotta HitschmanovaIt is only fitting that we celebrate Lotta Hitschmanova’s birthday (Nov 28) on the day after “Giving Tuesday” (Nov 27).

Since for millions of Canadians in the 1940s through to the 1980s, EVERY day was Giving Tuesday, thanks to Lotta.

She planted the seeds of compassion and caring that have been nurtured and continue to thrive generation after generation.

If you remember Lotta, I encourage you to sign the petition I have started to request that Canada Post create a commemorative stamp in her honour.

Thank you Lotta for everything you did to make your adopted country a more caring society and Happy Birthday!

PS  Just received today was this testimonial from Kevin H:

“I am one of those tourists who went looking for 56 Sparks St Ottawa. It was around 2015 and my first summer trip to Ottawa. My main goal was to find 56 Sparks St, which I did, just a number above a door, but it was rewarding to actually see it. And Sparks St was amazing, stone covered and no vehicles. The buskers were fascinating. I highly recommend a visit to this historic street.”

David Rain

How to save Sparks Street – Part III – is it time to create a “Lotta56sparks” app?

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

The Ottawa Citizen has just published my letter to the editor:

I read with great interest Thomas Brawn’s suggestion of creating an app to highlight the story of Sparks Street. I salute this idea and add one of my own.

Canada’s most famous address is 56 Sparks Street. Ottawa humanitarian Lotta Hitschmanova, who helped found the Unitarian Service Committee of Canada, forever implanted that address in the memories of millions of Canadians via her heartfelt appeals on TV and radio in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.

A bust of Lotta currently resides on the wall beside the entrance to 56 Sparks. Imagine what it would be like to have a recording of her old public service announcements playing for visitors as they passed by.

Let’s take a tip from the Oscar Peterson memorial at the National Arts Centre: his music can be heard alongside Ruth Abernethy’s amazing sculpture.

If Thomas Brawn’s proposal could also be implemented, imagine all those visitors to Ottawa strolling down this pedestrian mall, checking out the Sparks Street app on their smart phones, suddenly hearing this voice from the past, having a listen, perhaps taking a photo or two to show the folks back home.

Brilliant idea, and Ottawa tourism would be a direct beneficiary.

David Rain, Ottawa

(Editor’s note: David Rain established a blog in memory of Lotta Hitschmanova: lotta56sparks.ca)

Lotta Hitschmanova: A Woman of Impact in Canada

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

As part of Women’s History Month, Status of Women Canada has created an online gallery called “Women of Impact in Canada.”

It is “dedicated to women’s achievements, featuring profiles of courageous women who have made an impact in politics, the arts and sciences, and countless other fields.”

Dr Lotta is one of 100 women recognized by the Government of Canada and has been included in the online gallery as a Human Rights and humanitarian leader. 

I hope this recognition will lead to many more Canadians, men and women, learning about her remarkable life story, and the lasting impact she has had on her adopted society to this day.

David Rain

Little known Lotta facts for a Friday: you can play the piano in Lotta’s room!

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

Lotta’s room, “Hitschmanova”, in the Unitarian Church of Vancouver

Did you know there is a room named after Lotta in Vancouver? You can meet in “Hitschmanova”, or even play the piano there!

I learned this while giving a talk for USC Canada many years ago at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver at 49th & Oak.

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Let’s honour Lotta on World Refugee Day

“I experienced personally how much it hurts to be hungry. To be a refugee, to be without a home, to be without country, to be without friends. And this is something dreadful; you have no more roots, you have no one to turn to.” – Lotta Hitschmanova

June 20, 2018. Today is World Refugee Day, a time to reflect on the millions of refugees and displaced persons around the world.

Humanitarian Lotta Hitschmanova was a WWII refugee who by her actions in the 1940s to 1980s planted the seeds of compassion in her adopted country and indeed around the world. She was a refugee who changed Canada for the better.

To honour her legacy, let’s sign the petition to put Lotta on a commemorative stamp!

Thank you for supporting this and for sharing it with others.

David Rain

Remembering a Soldier of Peace: Dr Lotta Hitschmanova

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

A wonderful new book has just been published: 150 Canadian Stories of Peace.

I am honoured that my story about Lotta Hitschmanova – “Remembering a Soldier of Peace“- has been included in this anthology, which was compiled by Gordon Breedyk, Mony Dojeiji, Koozma J. Tarasoff and Evelyn Voigt.


Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova (1909-1990) was a World War II refugee who made a lasting impact on her adopted country and acted as a Canadian ambassador for peace around the world.

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How to save Sparks Street – Lotta may offer the answer

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

A recent Ottawa Citizen column re-ignited a debate about what to do with Canada’s first pedestrian mall on Sparks Street. Here is my response:

As someone who worked on Sparks Street for two decades, I have followed with some interest the debate on whether this street can be “saved” or not. Continue reading

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

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

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

Little known Lotta facts for a Friday: her “paparazzi” encounter in Edmonton

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

Lotta HitschmanovaLotta Hitschmanova was perhaps the most recognizable woman in Canada in the 1960s and 1970s. In a 1973 interview, she shared a remarkable incident that took place in Edmonton: Continue reading