Frederick William Borden

Sir Frederick William Borden, KCMG PC (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.[1] 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.[2]

Sir Frederick William Borden

Minister of Militia and Defence
In office
13 July 1896  6 October 1911
Prime MinisterSir Wilfrid Laurier
Preceded byDavid Tisdale
Succeeded bySam Hughes
Personal details
Born(1847-05-14)May 14, 1847
Cornwallis Township, Nova Scotia
DiedJanuary 6, 1917(1917-01-06) (aged 69)
Canning, Nova Scotia Canada
Political partyLiberal
ChildrenHarold Lothrop Borden
Alma materUniversity of King's College
Harvard University


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. Borden soon added business to his medical practice, acting as a bank agent, buying real estate, ships and helping found the successful Cornwallis Valley Railway from Canning to Kentville in 1887. He formed his own company the F. W. Borden Company in 1895, later known as the Nova Scotia Produce and Supply Company, to oversee his various businesses ventures in agriculture, lumber, shipping and investment.

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 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.


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.

Following the succession of King Edward VII and the end of the Second Boer War by the Peace of Vereeniging in late May 1902, Borden was created a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in the 1902 Coronation Honours list published on 26 June 1902.[3][4] He attended the fleet review held at Spithead on 16 August 1902 to mark the coronation, and received the order in an investiture on board the royal yacht Victoria and Albert the previous day.[5] He was appointed a Knight of Grace of the Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem in England (K.St.J.) on 13 August 1902,[6] and granted the honorary rank of Surgeon-General in the British Army in the 1911 Coronation Honours.[7]

Borden died in Canning in 1917, and is buried in nearby Hillaton Cemetery,[8] as are his two wives,[9] who were sisters.[10] His two principal houses survive, the former Stadacona House (now the High Commission of Brunei, Ottawa), and Borden Place, in Canning, which is a National Historic Site.[11][12]


  • "Frederick William Borden". Dictionary of Canadian Biography (online ed.). University of Toronto Press. 1979–2016.
  • Frederick William Borden – Parliament of Canada biography
  • Carman Miller. A Knight in Politics: A Biography of Sir Frederick Borden (2010)
  • Annotated bibliography for Frederick William Borden from the Alsos Digital Library for Nuclear Issues
  • Photographs of Frederick Borden's tombstone
  1. Canadian Biography Online - Herold Borden
  2. Carmen Miller, A Knight in Politics: A Biography of Sir Frederick Borden (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2010)
  3. "The Coronation Honours". The Times (36804). London. 26 June 1902. p. 5.
  4. "No. 27448". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 June 1902. p. 4196.
  5. "Court Circular". The Times (36848). London. 16 August 1902. p. 8.
  6. "No. 27465". The London Gazette. 15 August 1902. p. 5327.
  7. "No. 28505". The London Gazette (Supplement). 19 June 1911. p. 4597.
  8. GPS location: 45°08'48"N 64°26'37"W
  9. Findagrave reference:
Parliament of Canada
Preceded by
Leverett de Veber Chipman
Member of Parliament from Kings
Succeeded by
Douglas Benjamin Woodworth
Preceded by
Douglas Benjamin Woodworth
Member of Parliament from Kings
Succeeded by
Arthur de Witt Foster
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