The Redemption of Oscar Wolf


A young First Nations man sets out from his Muskoka home in a quest for redemption after a terrible fire.

In the early 1930s, Oscar Wolf, a 13-year-old Native from the Chippewas of Rama Indian Reserve, sets fire to the business section of his village north of Toronto in a fit of misguided rage against white society, inadvertently killing his grandfather and a young maid. Tortured by guilt and fearful of divine retribution, Oscar sets out on a lifetime quest for redemption.

His journey takes him to California where he works as a fruit picker and prizefighter during the Great Depression, to the Second World War where he becomes a decorated soldier, to university where he excels as a student and athlete, and to the diplomatic service in the postwar era where he causes a stir at the United Nations in New York and in Colombia and Australia.

Beset by an all-too-human knack for making doubtful choices, Oscar discovers that peace of mind is indeed hard to find in this saga of mid-20th-century aboriginal life in Canada and abroad that will appeal to readers of all backgrounds and ages.


One Book Hamilton


Bartleman’s realistic novel, with its edgy verisimilitude, deserves a broad readership.

Library Journal

Dark humour runs throughout the text. Bartleman especially has fun satirizing self-important diplomats and politicians

Ottawa Citizen

At the core of Bartleman’s story…is Oscar Wolf’s preoccupation with guilt, with the fear, not just of legal guilt, but of divine retribution.

London Free Press

Bartleman’s play to stereotype, a deliberate device, is balanced both by empathy and by his own experience as a member of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation

London Free Press

Bartleman acknowledged a dark shadow in Canada's history and brings it to life through the genuine character of Oscar Wolf, a man for whom the reader cheers throughout the story

Waterloo Record

About the Author

James Bartleman

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 6, 2014
James Bartleman photo

James Bartleman

James Bartleman is the former lieutenant governor of Ontario and the bestselling author of the novels As Long as the Rivers Flow and The Redemption of Oscar Wolf. A member of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation, he is also a retired ambassador, an officer of the Order of Canada, and winner of the Aboriginal Achievement Award. He lives in Perth, Ontario.