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On Six Continents

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On Six Continents: A Life in Canada's Foreign Service


Muskoka, the University of Western Ontario, Ottawa, New York, Colombia, Bangladesh, Nicaragua, Peru, Cuba, Israel, Belgium, South Africa, Australia –the place-names tell the story of an amazing career. Then there are the people involved –Trudeau, Clark, and Chrétien, Kissinger, Castro, Rabin, Walesa, Havel, Mandela and dozens of others. Not to mention the moments of high drama: when young Jim Bartleman becomes Ottawa’s security expert on terrorism during the FLQ crisis in 1970; or when he leads the movement to bring countries like Poland and Ukraine into NATO and the West.

But this is also a light-hearted look at what our diplomats actually do and is full of funny stories: so watch young Jim attend a drunken party with Trudeau; compete with Mother Teresa for Bangladesh babies; or sweep his Belgian bride off her feet to the altar. Bartleman also writes candidly about falling prey to depression, and about his concern, as a native Canadian, to see aboriginal peoples well treated. In summary, a richly varied career, as the only Canadian diplomat to serve on all six continents, well told by a remarkable character.


James Bartleman rose from humble circumstances in Port Carling, Ontario, to become Foreign Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister in 1994. He is the author of the prize-winning memoir Out of Muskoka. In 2002 he became the Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario. Mr. Bartleman is donating his 2004 royalties to the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto to support a lecture series entitled “Political Power and Mental Health”, designed to engage the public in discussion on issues central to “Shared Citizenship” in Canada.

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