James Bartleman grew up in Port Carljng, Ontario, a tiny resort community nestled in the Muskokas. His mother was an aboriginal and because she married a non-native she was forced off the reserve and lost her Indian status. Bartleman’s parents were poor, and prospects for a young aboriginal growing up in rural Ontario weren’t good at the time, but Bartleman was fortunate that his grandfather worked as a caretaker and guide at the summer home of the American millionaire Robert Claus, the President of Pittsburgh Plate Glass (now PPG). Claus, seeing the potential of the young James Bartleman offered to pay for his post-secondary education.
After graduating from the University of Western Ontario, Bartleman took a position with the Foreign Service and spent the next 35 years as a diplomat and ambassador with postings in Bangladesh, Columbia, Cuba and Israel. In 2002, he was appointed as Ontario’s Lieutenant-Governor where he championed the cause of literacy among First Nations children. Having retired from public life, Bartleman continues to work on education initiatives for First Nations children and has recently published his fourth novel.
Catherine Clark spoke to James Bartleman in Ottawa.
Born into political life in Ottawa, Catherine Clark is no stranger to being in the public eye. As founding host of CPAC’s popular weekly television show Beyond Politics, Catherine interviews Members of Parliament, Premiers and people of influence to reveal the personal, human side of public life. Catherine is also a sought-after public speaker and emcee, and writes the “Giving Back” column for Ottawa at Home Magazine, profiling people who are improving the lives of their fellow citizens.