Before beginning this blog the autobiography I would like to write some day consisted of a few file folders in the My Documents section of my computer hard drive. The blog has, piecemeal I grant you, helped me see things from a slightly wider perspective. Whether my story ever becomes more than something for my niece and nephew to read one day is still an open question.
What has me thinking about that today is this morning’s phone chat with Mom. Among the family news, and other incidentals, was her mention of this book review in last Sunday’s Ottawa Citizen in which, as an aside, it was stated that Ontario Lieutenant-Governor James Bartleman (whose latest book was the subject of the review) has recently bought a home in Perth where he will soon retire. (A provincial or territorial Lieutenant-Governor, for those unfamiliar with Canada’s quaint ties to the British monarchy, is the Queen’s representative in that province or territory – just as the Governor-General is the Queen’s designee for all of Canada.)
Perth is as fine a community in which to retire as I could imagine and, as the area where Mom and Dad were born and raised, and then returned to in retirement, this is equally true for those of us without vice-regal connections. (It’s also, I’m sure, a fine community for the years between infancy and retirement, lest I lead anyone to believe otherwise, although I only ever experienced it full-time as a kid during summer months of the 1960s and 70s.)
The cost of housing and real estate in Perth, compared to nearby Ottawa or, certainly, to Toronto, is very favourable. Hence there is speculation, according to Mom, that the home Bartleman has purchased is none other than this unique town gem:
It is a property which has been up for sale for quite a long time, advertised in national newspapers’ “Out of Town Properties” sections of the classifieds, following major renovations by the vendor (the extent of which these pictures, which I took 18 months ago and from the edges of the large property, cannot properly convey). The fourth picture, by the way, was taken in the public parkland adjacent to the very private property.
Locally it has been known as “the judge’s house” because of a prominent local judge’s ownership of the property at some point earlier in Mom’s day. It is more formally known as The Haggart House, home of John Haggart, a minister in the cabinet of Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. The home was built in 1837 by Haggart’s father, a stone mason whose claim to fame, certainly in death all these years later, would be his work in helping to build the Rideau Canal, a project far enough away that the brain-trust of Perth decided, rightly or wrongly, it needed a canal of its own (The Tay Canal).
I have photographed Perth extensively, as evidenced in this album. (Note to self: do some tidying up there in terms of order of photos, captions, etc.)
James Bartleman’s official web bio, at least for now, gives only a glimpse into the remarkable life of this man who, I am certain, Perth will be quick to claim as one of their own just as soon as the moving vans roll into town – whether it be to The Haggart House or to a fixer-upper somewhere else in town.
My autobiography, if it ever moves beyond my computer hard-drive, will not have the curriculum vitae nor, arguably, the compelling story of His Honour. It may, in fact, have to include in its secondary title something as uncouth as ‘a shit-load of life experience’. It will, however, be as authentic as I have tried to be on this blog. On that score, authenticity, I hope that it might compare favourably to anything penned by Mr. Bartleman.