From the 1950s to 1970s, humanitarian Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova was arguably the most recognizable woman in Canada, a groundbreaking female leader and role model working in a male dominated society. It comes as no surprise, then, that so many of her supporters were exceptional women in their own rights, who identified with Lotta in so many ways. Margaret Brunette, a vibrant 97-year old Vancouverite when I met her in 2010, was one of these. Continue reading
“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
Sincere thanks to Tu Thanh Ha for his excellent article in the Globe and Mail that features Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova, her biographer Clyde Sanger, supporter Bruce Cockburn and myself.
He spent a decade in Tanzania, teaching, co-ordinating rural development projects and earning a master’s degree in development studies at the University of Dar es Salaam. “A lot of what Lotta said started to make sense to me,” he said.
It is nice to see the spotlight shone like this on a refugee to Canada who made such an important contribution to her adopted homeland and who connected her new society so deeply to the far corners of the globe.
My hope is that this article will stimulate many others to further explore this fascinating part of Canadian social history.
And of course, launching a campaign to have Lotta’s iconic image on a Canadian postage stamp is now front and centre for 2018!
According to Clyde Sanger’s biography of Lotta Hitschmanova, she initiated USC Canada programs in Hong Kong from 1952 to 1980. There must be hundreds if not thousands of stories that could be told. Here is one of them, as related by two Hong Kong twins who still remember Lotta after all these years, Lan Chun and Mui Chun. Continue reading
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?
What do Olympian Hailey Wickenheiser, singer-songwriter and activist Buffy Sainte-Marie and humanitarian Lotta Hitschmanova all have in common?
‘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:
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:
“They made an interesting couple.”
Thus wrote Kathryn-Jane Hazel, recalling the remarkable personal connection her father, noted B.C. newspaper publisher Stuart Keate, had with Lotta Hitschmanova.
NB: Stuart Keate was inducted into the Canadian News Hall of Fame in 1974 and received the Order of Canada in 1976. Future blog posts will bring out more of the special Stuart Keate – Lotta Hitschmanova connection. Continue reading