Borden, Sir Robert Laird

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Borden, Sir Robert Laird

Sir Robert Laird Borden, 1854–1937, Canadian political leader, prime minister during World War I, b. Grand Pré, N.S. Called to the bar in 1878, he won a reputation as a constitutional lawyer. He was elected to the House of Commons in 1896 and in 1901 succeeded Sir Charles Tupper as leader of the Conservative party. He led the opposition until 1911, when Sir Wilfrid Laurier's Liberal government fell. During the election campaign Borden had opposed the creation of a separate Canadian navy and had criticized Laurier's reciprocity agreement with the United States. The agreement, which would have lowered tariffs between the two countries, was opposed by powerful economic interests in Canada. As prime minister, Borden headed a Conservative government until 1917 and a Union (coalition) government until his resignation in 1920. He is remembered for his leadership in carrying Canada through World War I and, subsequently, in defining the new status of the self-governing dominions in the British Empire. Largely through his efforts the dominions were given separate representation in the League of Nations, and the Canadian Parliament ratified the treaties that resulted from the peace conference of 1919. Borden later represented Canada at the naval armament conference in Washington (1921–22) and in the League of Nations. He was also chancellor of Queen's Univ. (1924–30). His Canadian Constitutional Studies (1922) and Canada in the Commonwealth (1929) are significant works.

See his memoirs, ed. by H. Borden (1938); H. A. Wilson, Imperial Policy of Sir Robert Borden (1966).

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