June 4, 2002
The Late Otto Lowy
Tribute in the Senate –
Hon. Francis William Mahovlich: Honourable senators, last week Canada lost one of its greatest
storytellers. Otto Lowy, host of CBC radio's musical series "The
Transcontinental," passed away at the age of 81. For 22 years he took us
on a weekly journey through Europe, on one of the CBC's most popular
Mr. Lowy was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, came to Canada in
the early 1950s, and settled in Vancouver where he dedicated himself to the
arts community. He was one of the first members of ACTRA and, at one time,
served as national director.
This most remarkable individual received many awards throughout
his lifetime. In 1994, he was awarded the Austrian Gold Cross of Merit for
Science and the Arts and also received a Great Honour
Medal for Services to the State of Lower Austria. He was inducted into the British
Columbia Entertainment Hall of Fame in 1998, in recognition of his work in
broadcasting over the last 50 years.
In 1999, the Czechoslovakian Association of Canada awarded him the Masaryk
Award for his contributions in creating awareness, in Canada, of Czech music and history. He
also received the Czech Republic's President's Award, personally
brought to Canada by Czech President Vaclav Havel. A great Canadian broadcaster, actor, writer and
director, Mr. Lowy will be fondly remembered by all his loyal listeners.
Last Sunday, my wife and I enjoyed the last program of "The
Transcontinental." They played Bob Hope's theme song, "Thanks for the
Memory," which was sung by Vera Lynn. I hope, honourable
senators, you will join with me in extending our deepest condolences to Mr.
Otto Lowy, the host of CBC Radio's long-running musical series
The Transcontinental , died Tuesday following a short
illness. He was 81.
Born in Czechoslovakia, Otto came to Canada in 1948 when he was 27, and
immediately immersed himself in Vancouver's arts community. Shortly after, he
began his career with CBC Radio as a foreign-accented bit player in a 10-week
series titled Adventures in Europe .
Over the next five decades, Lowy wore many hats at CBC, writing
radio plays and television scripts, producing documentaries, and playing a wide
range of dramatic and comedic roles. He is probably best known for his 22 years
as host of CBC Radio's The Transcontinental , a blend
of European music and personal recollection.
In 1994, Lowy was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honour First Class for Science and the Arts. He also
received the Great Honour Medal for Services to the
State of Lower
Austria. In 1998, he was inducted into the British Columbia
Entertainment Hall of Fame in recognition of his work in broadcasting and the
theatre in B.C. over the last half-century. The tribute included a star at the
Orpheum's Theatre Walk of Fame. He was also awarded the Maxaryk
Award, given by the Czechoslovak Association of Canada and the Czech Republic's President's Award.
The Arts Club Theatre, Vancouver, opened in February 1964 with a
production called Light Up the Sky. The theatre was
established by Otto Lowy, Yvonne Firkin and others on the second floor of a
gospel hall at 1181 Seymour Street in Vancouver. It featured a flexible seating
space accommodating 125-200 persons.
BC Radio History