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)

How to save Sparks Street – Part II – Let’s hear Lotta’s voice again!

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

The City of Ottawa wants your views on how to revitalize Sparks Street, Canada’s first pedestrian mall.

I’d like to add something new to what I wrote in a previous blog post, where I suggested building upon the only pre-existing “anchor” that already draws people from coast to coast to this narrow dark pedestrian mall – that anchor being Canada’s most iconic address, 56 Sparks Street, made famous by celebrated humanitarian, Lotta Hitschmanova, founder of the Unitarian Service Committee, USC Canada.

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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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Before there was “Giving Tuesday”, there was Lotta Hitschmanova!

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

It is, I believe, no exaggeration to say that Lotta was the greatest fundraiser that our country has ever known. Indeed, she wrote the book on fundraising long before there were professional fundraisers, or any fundraising books at all.

Today is November 28th, “Giving Tuesday”, and thousands of Canadians will be responding to fundraising appeals from charities and non-profits across the country.

Coincidentally it is also the 108th anniversary of the birth of Dr Lotta Hitschmanova (1909-1990), a WWII refugee to Canada who profoundly shaped the society she encountered in her adopted homeland, and indeed, she planted the very seeds for the “Giving Tuesday” that we are celebrating today. Continue reading

Special Bank of Canada survey, Update #3: the ultimate paradox, Lotta’s name isn’t well known

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

Lotta Hitschmanova on a Canadian bank noteFor me, one of the more surprising results of the Bank of Canada’s survey on 12 “bank-notable” women was how few people (29%) recognized Lotta Hitschmanova’s name.

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Mike Myers, Lotta Hitschmanova, and on being Canadian

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

Mike Myers, Shelagh Rogers, CBC radio photo

“What does it mean to be Canadian? Well, for one thing, if you’re of a certain age (Mike Myers is 53), it means you have stored away in your memory banks one of Canada’s most famous addresses, 55 Sparks Street, Ottawa 4 – or was it 56 Sparks?” Continue reading

Sharing a Lotta Story: “Dad and Dr. Lotta”

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

“In any world menu, Canada must be considered the vichyssoise of nations–it’s cold, half-French, and difficult to stir.” — Stuart Keate

“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

Would you like to hear Lotta’s iconic voice again?

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

Millions of Canadians still remember that unique and iconic voice of Lotta Hitschmanova.

For who can forget her distinctive Czech accent (and unique uniform) during those TV and radio PSAs  that were broadcast almost daily in the  1960s and 70s? Continue reading