Bartleman of Chelsea
Reuel S. Amdur
James Bartleman, Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario from 2002 to 2007, died on August 14 this year. He was Ontario’s 27th lieutenant governor. As a member of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation, he was Ontario’s first Aboriginal viceroy.
Paradoxically, when appointed to this post, he was living in Chelsea. David Stockwell, who served with him in the foreign service, gave a brief eulogy at the Chelsea Council meeting on August 22. He recalled contacting him to congratulate him on this honor, but he asked Bartleman, “Jim, what would Ontario Premier Mike Harris say if he knew that you were living in Chelsea?” “We Indians don’t pay any attention to those boundaries,” he replied.
Bartleman was a Christmas Eve baby, born in Orillia in 1939. His father Percy was a white man, but James identified strongly with his native heritage. He promoted campaigns to send books to native schools and friendship centres.
In addition to serving for years in the foreign service, including as ambassador to Australia, South Africa, Israel, and Cuba, as well as to NATO and the European Union, he was also Prime Minister Jean Chrétien’s foreign policy advisor. Chrétien appointed him to a post in the Privy Council Office, with foreign affairs responsibilities.
He is the author of several books, about his childhood and his time in the foreign service. His output also includes novels.
A sufferer of depression, his condition was exacerbated by a violent assault he endured while serving as High Commissioner in South Africa. Mental health issues were prominent among his concerns.
At the time of his death, the Bartlemans were living in London, Ontario, to be close to their daughter Anne-Pascale. In addition to her, he leaves his wife Marie-Jeanne and sons Laurent and Alain.
Photo caption: James Bartleman in 2014.
Photo credit: Wikipedia, Creative Commons.