8th Prime Minister of Canada. He served in this position from 1911 to 1920 as a Conservative from Nova Scotia. He was born in the farming community of Grand Pre, Nova Scotia and educated there. From 1868 to 1874 he worked as a teacher in Grand Pré and Matawan, New Jersey. In 1874 he returned to Nova Scotia in 1874 and apprenticed for four years at a Halifax law firm (without a formal university education), and passed his bar examinations in August 1878. He then joined the law firm of Graham and Tupper in Kentville, Nova Scotia and became a senior partner in 1889. He was a member of the Liberal party until he broke with them in 1891 over the issue of Reciprocity. He was elected to Parliament in the 1896 federal election as a Conservative and in 1901 was selected by the Conservative caucus to succeed Sir Charles Tupper as leader of the Conservative Party. He was defeated in his Halifax seat in the 1904 federal election and re-entered the House of Commons the next year via a by-election in Carleton. Over the next decade he worked to rebuild the party and establish a reform policy, the Halifax Platform of 1907, which called for reform of the Senate and the civil service, a more selective immigration policy, free rural mail delivery, and government regulation of telegraphs, telephones, and railways and eventually national ownership of telegraphs and telephones. Despite his efforts, his party lost the 1908 federal election to Wilfrid Laurier's Liberals but his party's fortunes turned around in the 1911 federal election, when the Conservatives successfully campaigned against Laurier's proposals for a Reciprocity (free trade) agreement with the US. He countered with a revised version of former Prime Minister John A. Macdonald's National Policy and appeals of loyalty to the British Empire and ran on the slogan "Canadianism or Continentalism." In October 1911 he became the Prime Minister of Canada. As Prime Minister during the First World War, he transformed his government to a wartime administration, passing the War Measures Act in 1914. He committed Canada to provide half a million soldiers for the war effort but volunteers soon evaporated when Canadians realized there would be no quick end to the war. His determination to meet that huge commitment led to the Military Service Act and the Conscription Crisis of 1917, which split the country along linguistic lines. In 1917 he recruited members of the Liberal party (with the notable exception of leader Wilfrid Laurier) to create a Unionist government. The 1917 election saw the "Government" candidates (including a number of Liberal-Unionists) crush the Opposition "Laurier Liberals" that resulted in him receiving a large parliamentary majority. The war effort also enabled Canada to assert itself as an independent power. He wanted to create a single Canadian army, rather than have Canadian soldiers split up and assigned to British divisions as had happened during the Boer War. Sam Hughes, the Canadian Minister of Militia, generally ensured that Canadian soldiers were well-trained and prepared to fight in their own divisions, although with mixed results such as the Ross Rifle. Canadian General Sir Arthur William Currie provided sensible leadership for the Canadian divisions in Europe, although they were still under overall British command. During the war, he introduced the first Canadian income tax, which at the time was meant to be temporary, but was never repealed. After the conclusion of the war, he demanded that Canada have a separate seat at the Paris Peace Conference, which was initially opposed by Britain and the US. British Prime Minister David Lloyd George eventually relented, and convinced the reluctant Americans to accept the presence of separate Canadian, Indian, Australian, Newfoundland, New Zealand and South African delegations. Despite this, he boycotted the opening ceremony, protesting at the precedence given to the prime minister of the much smaller Newfoundland over him. His persistence allow him to represent Canada in Paris as a nation, and it also ensured that each of the dominions could sign the Treaty of Versailles in its own right, and receive a separate membership in the League of Nations. The treaty was soon ratified by the Canadian Parliament at his insistence. He was the last Canadian prime minister to be knighted (done in 1915) after the House of Commons indicated its desire for the discontinuation of the granting of any future titles to Canadians in 1919 with the adoption of the Nickle Resolution. In 1920 he retired from office. After retiring from public life, he served as Chancellor Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada from 1924 to 1930 and was Chancellor of McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada from 1918 to 1920 while still Prime Minister. He died in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada at the age of 82. There is a statue dedicated to his honor on parliament Hill in Ottawa. His portrait is depicted on the Canadian $100 dollar note.
Bio by: William Bjornstad
Henry Clifford Borden