Sir Frederick William Borden


Frederick_William_Borden

Sir Frederick William Borden, (May 14, 1847 – January 6, 1917) was a Canadian politician. While he was the Minister for Militia and Defence, he was the father of the most famous Canadian casualty of the Second Boer War Harold Lothrop Borden. Historians credit him with creating and financing a modernized Canadian army with a staff and medical, transport, and signals that proved as vital in war as the infantry, cavalry, and artillery they served. He thus created the foundation for the Canadian armies of 1914-1918 and 1939-1945.

Career

Born in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, the son of Dr. Jonathan Borden and Maria Frances Brown. Borden received a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of King’s College in Windsor, Nova Scotia in 1866. He joined the militia as a cadet at King’s College and then as an assistant surgeon in the 68th (Kings) Battalion of Infantry in 1869. He earned a M.D. in 1868 from Harvard Medical School and practiced as a physician in Canning, Nova Scotia.

He entered politics in 1874 with election as a Liberal member from Kings County, Nova Scotia; aside from an interruption 1882–1887, he represented this constituency until 1911.

Minister of militia and defence

He was Minister of militia and defence from 1896–1911, and was instrumental in raising the services from appendages of Britain to forces in their own right.

He reformed the Royal Military College of Canada, sending senior officers to Britain for advanced training. He increased pay and retirement benefits, equipped the militia with modern weapons, established rules regulating tenure of command, and decentralized command and administration. Miller (2010) presents evidence that that Borden saved himself from financial ruin by stationing three battalions of soldiers to Halifax in 1900 in order to make a profit for his faltering supply company.

Honours

CFB Borden was named in his honour when the air base was founded in 1916. He is the cousin of the eighth Prime Minister of Canada, Robert Borden. Borden was created a KCMG in 1902 and granted the honorary rank of Surgeon-General in the British Army in the 1911 Coronation Honours. He died in Canning in 1917.

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