Sir Robert Borden fonds [textual record, graphic material]
Record Information – Brief1
Sir Robert Borden fonds [textual record, graphic material]
- Hierarchical level:
- R6113-0-X-E, MG26-H
- Type of material:
- Textual material, Art, Photographs
- Found in:
- Archives / Collections and Fonds
- Item ID number:
- Context of this record:
Record Information – Details
- Fonds includes:
22 lower level description(s)View lower level description(s)
- Bilingual equivalent:
- Click here
- Place of creation:
- No place, unknown, or undetermined
41.419 m of textual records.
1 drawing : pen and ink
2 prints : photogravures
- Language of material:
- Added language of material:
- English, French
- Scope and content:
The Borden fonds chiefly documents the record of his premiership, 1911-1920, since approximately 85 percent of the papers fall within that period. Nearly all the correspondence covering the period in which Borden was Leader of the Opposition, 1901-1911, 15 cm, is included in the Memoir Notes. The series of memoranda and clippings also spans this period. The correspondence of Borden after his retirement from office, 1920-1937, occupies approximately 3.66 m.
- Additional name(s):
- Biography/Administrative history:
Borden, Robert Laird, Sir, 1854-1937 : Prime Minister of Canada (1911-1920) Robert Laird Borden was born on 26 June 1854 at Grand-Pré, Nova Scotia. He taught school in Nova Scotia and New Jersey before apprenticing as a lawyer and building a prominent practice in Halifax. He sat on corporate boards, served in the militia and helped found the Canadian Bar Association. Borden was elected to parliament as a Conservative in 1896 for the riding of Halifax and succeeded Sir Charles Tupper as party leader in 1901. After losing his seat in the 1904 election, he was returned for Carleton. He was re-elected for Halifax in 1908 and 1911, and for King's in 1917. Borden was elected prime minister in 1911, serving concurrently as president of the Privy Council (1911-17) and secretary of state for external affairs (1912-20). His government initiated civil service reform, passed the Canada Grain Act (1912) and introduced legislation supporting agriculture, business, infrastructure and Canada's navy. The First World War dominated Borden's time in office. Soon after the war started in 1914, the government passed the War Measures Act and established the Canadian Patriotic Fund. Finances were secured through the Wartime Business Profits Act (1916) the War Tax Act (1917), the War Appropriation Act (1918) and by selling bonds. Borden also took control of wheat crops by establishing the Board of Grain Supervisors (1917), which became the Canadian Wheat Board. He founded the National Research Council (1916), the Dominion Bureau of Statistics (1918), inaugurated daylight savings time and began nationalising the railways. In June 1917, Borden introduced conscription under the Military Service Act, splitting public opinion and prompting him to invite members of the Liberal Party to join the cabinet. This 'union government' was formed in October, and won a large majority in the December election thanks to the Military Voters Act (1917), which enabled men in uniform to cast ballots, and the War-time Elections Act (1917) which disenfranchised enemy aliens while giving many women the vote. However, Quebec stood alone and massively supported the Liberal rump led by Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Borden increased Canadian autonomy from Britain. He ensured Canada's wartime contributions were recognised by an independent Canadian army, membership in the British war cabinet and a seat at the peace negotiations. Subsequently, Canada joined the League of Nations and the International Labour Organisation independent of Britain. At home, Borden called on the police to put down the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike. After retiring in 1920, Borden represented Canada at the Washington Naval Conference (1922) lectured at the universities of Toronto (1922) and Oxford (1927), held corporate positions and was chancellor of McGill (1918-20) and Queen's (1924-30) universities. He was president of the League of Nations Society (1921-25), the Canadian Institute of International Affairs (1928) and the Canadian Historical Association (1930-31). Borden was knighted in 1914. He married Laura Bond in 1889. Borden died at Ottawa on 10 June 1937 and was buried at Beechwood Cemetery. Borden endorsed the federal government's systematically racist relationship with Indigenous Peoples, which caused tremendous ongoing trauma, displacement, disenfranchisement and exclusion. Specifically, a 1918 amendment to the Indian Act gave the government unilateral powers to take reserve lands and funds without the consent of First Nations and lease the land to settlers for farming. A 1920 amendment to the Act made attendance at Day or Residential Schools compulsory and increased the government's powers over enfranchisement and the status of First Nations women. Borden also endorsed racism and nativism. He campaigned in the 1911 election under the slogan 'A White Canada.' In April 1914, he refused to allow the ship Komogata Maru, which carried Indian immigrants, to dock in Vancouver. During the war, Borden interned more than 8,500 people, mostly immigrants from German and Austro-Hungarian territories. Approximately two-thirds were Ukrainian-Canadians. In addition, approximately 80,000 people, mostly Ukrainian-Canadians, were required to register as 'enemy aliens.' The damage done by Borden's policies and actions has been acknowledged in recent years. The prime minister at the time apologised for Indian Residential Schools in 2008 and 2017, and for the Komogata Maru incident in 2008 and 2016. The government passed the Internment of Persons of Ukrainian Origin Recognition Act in 2005 and established a $10-million education grant in 2008.
- Finding aid:
Textual records (Paper) The finding aid consists of two major parts: an index on microfilm and the various unbound Finding Aids. Volumes 1-332 have been indexed, and subject, author and chronological lists are available on microfilm reels C-4819 to C-4829. The index is also available on the Prime Ministers CD-ROM. A copy of the subject list used in preparing the index is available on reel C-4650. MSS0018 (90: Open)Textual records (Electronic) Part One is the subject and alphabetical list for the OC, OCA, RLB and Post-1921 correspondence series: Volumes 1-286, Reels C-4196 to C-4214, C-4227 to C-4235, C-4237 to C-4242 and C-4306 to C-4449. MSS0018-1 (90: Open)
http://data2.archives.ca/pdf/pdf001/p000001640.pdfTextual records (Electronic) Part Two is a subject and author list to the Borden Memoir Notes: Volumes 334-354, Reels C-4465 to C-4471. MSS0018-2 (90: Open)
http://data2.archives.ca/pdf/pdf001/p000001641.pdfTextual records (Electronic) Part Three contains a file list to the Memoranda and Notes sub-series, 1900-1913: Volumes 301-323, Reels C-4449 to C-4464. MSS0018-3 (90: Open)
http://data2.archives.ca/pdf/pdf001/p000001642.pdfTextual records (Electronic) Part Four located in MSS0018-3 is a file list and subject index to the Paris Peace Conference Notes Series: Volumes 427-444. MSS0018-3 (90: Open)Textual records (Electronic) Part Five located in MSS0018-3 is a file list of correspondence and memoranda for the Washington Disarmament Conference: Volume 294, Reels C-4448 to C-4449. MSS0018-3 (90: Open)Textual records (Electronic) Part Six located in MSS0018-3 is a file list of Miscellaneous Notes, memoranda and book reviews: Volume 298, Reel C-4449. MSS0018-3 (90: Open)Textual records (Electronic) Part Seven located in MSS0018-3 is a list of the Personal and Family Papers found in volumes 445-448. MSS0018-3 (90: Open)Textual records (Electronic) Part Eight located in MSS0018-3 is a list of the Additional Accessions found in volumes 452-454. It also includes a conversion list for old volumes numbers 445-453 to the new volume numbers 445-454. MSS0018-3 (90: Open)Textual records (Electronic) The finding aid is a microfilm conversion list containing volume numbers, contents, page numbers and reel number. MSS0018-4 (90: Open)
http://data2.archives.ca/pdf/pdf001/p000001643.pdf(Electronic) All or some of the documents described have been digitized and are available at the following address: (90: Open)
- Additional information:
- Custodial history:
Most of the Borden papers were transferred from the Prime Minister's office to his home in Ottawa in 1921 after his retirement. A portion, chiefly memoranda, pamphlets and clippings, 1901-1911, was stored in the attic of the Senate.
After Borden's death in 1937, the papers, together with the incomplete Memoirs, were moved to Toronto by Sir Robert's nephew, Mr. Henry Borden, who edited The Memoirs of Sir Robert Borden (published 1938) and deposited the papers at the University of Toronto.
In 1952 the Borden papers were microfilmed by the Public Archives and a positive copy of the film was deposited at the University of Toronto. Later in the same year the papers were presented to the National Archives by Mr. Henry Borden. Transferred to Ottawa, the papers were numbered and finding aids were prepared. After the main body of the Borden Papers had been filmed, some additional papers were forwarded to the Archives, where they were filmed and then integrated with the remainder of the papers.
Some Borden papers from other sources have not been filmed. In 1951 the series of subject files of memoranda and clippings was transferred to the Archives from the attic of the Senate. It covers the period during which Borden was Leader of the Opposition, 1901-1911. In 1956 a body of correspondence labelled Prime Minister's private war file was transferred from the Department of External Affairs.
- Arrangement note:
Sometime before 1928 W.F. O'Connor, a lawyer, was employed for several months arranging and selecting papers to facilitate the writing of an autobiography by Borden. Originally the Borden correspondence was in a single series of subject files arranged in rough chronological order. This was later designated the RLB series. O'Connor selected the files or portions of files which he regarded as most useful for an autobiography, creating a series which he called OC., On examination, some of this material that was apparently considered of secondary importance became a third series, designated OCA. O'Connor made copious notes which were bound in nineteen volumes and called Memoir Notes. These were probably the main source for the Borden Memoirs., Fonds also includes graphic material acquired from Sir Robert Borden at various periods, including art, photography, and medals. This material has not been completely described. There is likely additional art and photographic material belonging to this fonds that has yet to be accessioned.
- Availability of other formats note:
- Volumes 1-354 and Volume 449 are available on 212 reels of microfilm. The index occupies 11 reels.
- Subject heading:
- Former archival reference no.:
Ordering and Viewing Options
- Conditions of access:
Textual records: Volumes 1-354 and 449 and 459 (originals) have been withdrawn from circulation. Researchers must use the microfilm or photocopies (copyflo).
You can order materials in advance to be ready for you when you visit. You will need a user card to do this.
Cannot visit us on site? You can purchase a copy to be sent to you. Some restrictions may apply.
- Date modified: