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

“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.

“Some of you may know that my father, Stuart Keate, was the publisher of the Victoria Times during the 1950s and 60s. His newspaper was one of the first to do annual campaigns for the Unitarian Service Committee, and over the years, he got to know Lotta Hitschmanova quite well.

“They made an interesting couple. Dr. Lotta was tiny, determined, disciplined, always dressed in a military-style uniform. My father was 6’ 2”, genial, laid-back, somewhat irreverent, and was known for his colourful sartorial style (the plaid plus-fours that he wore on the golf course are still remembered).

“Each winter on her annual visit Lotta would stride into the newsroom (it’s hard to believe such a petite woman could stride, but she did) and firmly ask about what kind of coverage the USC campaign was going to receive. As a former journalist herself, she had some opinions as to what should be done.

“My father, who was a wonderful mimic, loved to recall one of those encounters with Lotta in the newsroom. One year he thought he had done her a special favour, when, in addition to the usual series of stories, he had lined up a reporter to do an interview with her.

“’But, Shtu’, she asked, ‘is he a good reporter?’

“That was Lotta – perfectionist, tireless, irrepressible – all personal qualities that made her the champion of the poor and dispossessed throughout the world. She was an inspiration to us all.”

Kathryn-Jane Hazel

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