Today we welcome guest blogger, Jennifer Keane, who shares her reminiscences of her family’s connection with celebrated humanitarian, Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova (1909-1990).
Vancouver Province – June 29, 1959 – Fisk family moves to Tokyo
“I had the great good fortune to spend important years, 1959 to 1962, of my life in Tokyo. My father, Fred Fisk, was manager of the Tokyo office of Canadian Pacific Airlines.
“Lotte Hitschmanova visited Tokyo during this time, likely en route to Korea. My father met Lotte early in our stay, perhaps 1960, helped her arrange her travel and became a devoted friend. Continue reading →
Today we welcome guest blogger Calla Fireman, who shares her story (originally published in the Ottawa Citizen) about her family connection with celebrated humanitarian, Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova (1909-1990).
The story concerns her father, Dr. Harold H. Fireman (1919-2020).
Dr. Fireman was born and raised in Toronto, graduated from the University of Toronto Medical School in 1942, spent over 4 years with the Canadian Air Force as a medical advisor mostly in Newfoundland, before returning to a long and successful career in Internal Medicine in Ottawa.
“I’ve enjoyed reading about Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova as I have a family connection to her. My father, Dr. Harold H. Fireman, was Lotta’s physician in Ottawa for many years. Continue reading →
“I never met Lotta, but I do remember 56 Sparks Street, I do remember that voice.”
In 2009, more than 50 events were held coast to coast to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dr Lotta Hitschmanova (1909-2009). In Ottawa, USC Canada (now SeedChange) organized a special “Lotta 100” event to honour their founder.
The M.C. for this event was Bob Carty (1950-2014), an award-winning CBC documentary producer and justice-seeking singer-songwriter.
As a tribute to Lotta during his introduction, Carty leads the audience in the singing of his haunting anthem of hope, “Desert Eyes.”
Millions of Canadians can still remember her heavily accented voice on those celebrated radio and TV ads in the 1960s and 70s: “This is Lotta Hitschmanova of the Unitarian Service Committee, 56 Sparks Street, Ottawa 4.”
For generations, Lotta was Canada’s most beloved humanitarian, a constant voice of caring and compassion for those in need far away. But the deep-rooted inspiration for Lotta’s lifelong humanitarian mission is not so well known. 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.
This wonderful testimonial about Lotta Hitschmanova was published today in the Letters section of the Globe and Mail:
Re One Man’s Continuing Quest To Honour A Humanitarian (Jan. 23): The attempts to honour Lotta Hitschmanova on a commemorative postage stamp brought back memories of how she made the Unitarian Service Committee famous in Canada in the years after the Second World War, when so many were trying to survive in brutal circumstances.
I was a high school principal and invited her to address the student body in the late 1970s on one of her cross-country fundraising tours. She was a diminutive figure in her unique uniform and I heard some of the “cool” students snicker as she headed to the stage. She soon had them eating out of her hand, and the student council voted to donate the whole proceeds of the next school dance to the USC. Dr. Lotta was a force for humanity and deserves to be commemorated.
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.
Exciting news for Lotta Hitschmanova fans across the country.
The humanitarian agency that she founded in 1945, the Unitarian Service Committee (USC Canada), has just announced a very special project at its headquarters, still located at the famous 56 Sparks Street address in Ottawa: Continue reading →
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 →
“A lot of the volunteers I met had met Lotta for the first time in primary school. For their life, they never forgot it. They never forgot Lotta coming to their class, almost to the date when it happened, in ’58 or ’62, whenever it was. It was such an impression on them, that they became volunteers at an early age.”
In 2009, more than 50 events were held coast to coast to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dr Lotta Hitschmanova (1909-2009). In Ottawa, USC Canada organized a special “Lotta 100” event to honour their founder. Sherry Tompalski and Graham Thompsonwere on hand and recorded interviews of participants who shared their recollections and stories about Lotta.
Here is the first in this series, an interview with Friederike Knabe.