The Palmer Family Foundation

Jim & Brad Palmer

James S. Palmer, C.M., A.O.E., Q.C., L.L.D.
August 29, 1928 – August 27, 2013

Jim Palmer was born on Prince Edward Island, a direct descendant from one of the Fathers of Confederation. He married his sweetheart, Barbara who he never stopped loving since their first meeting in the elementary school playground in Charlottetown. Jim and Barbara moved to Calgary in 1952. In 1955 he joined Burnet Duckworth, and he became a partner the following year. Like his mentor, Frank Burnet, Jim went to the office until his last days as Chair Emeritus of Burnet Duckworth & Palmer LLP.

Jim and Barbara were a great team. They had a love for hiking and skiing in the Rockies; sailing and swimming off PEI, and many other family “adventures” – about which each of his four daughters has a story to tell. They are Valerie (Gary), Noelle, Fraley Jane (Chris), Sarah (Tom); his six grandchildren, Oliver, Jarrod, Emma, Liam, Thea and John.

Jim was a passionate Albertan who built a great law firm, helped create a globe-spanning energy business and was a friend and mentor who could bridge the political divides in this country like nobody else. 

Jim loved people and he loved conversation.  He believed Canada derived its strength from collegiality across the political spectrum – and across geographies. Jim left his mark on public life as a mentor to a generation of business and political leaders, and as a legal thought leader who helped fashion the rules of taxation for business in this country.

James Palmer was very passionate about the development of good policy in the public realm and this led him to fund the Palmer Chair in Public Policy at  U of C . In order to realize his passion James Palmer convinced Jack Mintz to travel west to lead the new public policy school.  As friend Murray Edwards put it James Palmer obsession was always, how to make Canada a better place. 

Right to the end, Jim urged Justin Trudeau to adopt the idea that, if the party regained power in Ottawa, the government would create a Western Canadian office of the prime minister to have a finger on the region’s sensibilities. It was a theme he had been pursuing since the Paul Martin era.

To honour the memory of Jim and the generousity of Barbara and her family, the Canada 300 Events in Edmonton and Calgary will be called the J.S. Palmer Conversations. The final conference, which will host the first national conversation of the next 150 years, will be known as the J.S. Palmer Conference.

With thanks to Gordon Pitts, The Globe and Mail



“At the Charlottetown and Québec conferences, the Fathers of Confederation started discussing the idea of building a new country. And Canada has grown to be strong, proud and free over the last 150 years. Starting a new dialogue on the future of our great nation is a good way to showcase and celebrate this momentous milestone in our history.  As we get closer to Canada’s 150th anniversary, our Government is proud to be part of a project that will provide an opportunity for Canadians to express their dreams for what our country could be on its 300th birthday.”

- Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages


Province of PEI

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