Description of Historic Place
The Borden House is located on a hillside overlooking the village of Grand Pré, Nova Scotia, and is adjacent to the Covenanter Church, a National Historic Site. This one-and-a-half storey, Neo-Classical style wooden house was built around 1792. The building and property are included in the designation.
Borden House is valued for its historical association with Sir Robert Laird Borden, Prime Minister of Canada during World War One.
While the exact year of construction of Borden House has not been documented, property records suggest a date of around 1792. Borden House was built by Roswell Pelton, a blacksmith and it was from his property that land was divided in 1804 for the construction of the adjacent Covenanter Church. The property passed to another blacksmith, Dawson Patterson, in 1816 and then to Enoch Brown, a carpenter, in 1822.
In 1844, the property was acquired by Andrew Borden, a farmer. The children of Andrew and Eunice (Laird) included Sir Robert Laird Borden, born at Borden House in 1854. Robert's formal education was undertaken at Acacia Villa Seminary in Horton. After a few years of teaching in New Jersey and Nova Scotia, he apprenticed with the law firm of Weatherbee and Graham. Borden was called to the Nova Scotia Bar in 1878, and began practicing law in Halifax.
In 1896, Borden was elected to the House of Commons, representing the riding of Halifax, and only five years later, succeeded Sir Charles Tupper as leader of the Conservative Party. In 1911, he managed to defeat Sir Wilfrid Laurier's Liberals and became Prime Minister of Canada, serving from 1911 to 1920. During this period, much of Borden's policy related to Canada's role in World War One. Borden transformed his government to a wartime administration, passing the War Measures Act in 1914. Following his retirement from Parliament in 1920, Borden served as Chancellor of Queens University, on several boards, and as President of the Canadian Historical Society. Borden died in Ottawa in 1937, where he is also buried.
In 1864, Edward McLatchy, a trader from Lower Horton and a relative of the Bordens, purchased the Borden House, and it remained with that family until 1971. Kate McLatchy, a nurse, owned the property for many years. During World War One, however, she was overseas where her assignments reportedly included that of Matron of the Field Hospital in France where the poet, Colonel John McCrae, was both Chief Medical Officer and patient. McCrae, author of the poem, In Flanders Fields, died at that hospital in January 1918.
Borden House is one-and-a-half storey, Neo-Classical style wooden house with attached barn. Borden House is symmetrical with its five-bay, front façade. It is shingle-clad, with plain cornerboards and little extraneous ornamentation. The central door is set in a hip-roofed porch with sidelights. Unusual, large peaked dormers complete the symmetry of the façade. The dormer windows are round-headed, with small capital mouldings adding a subtle touch or ornament. There is a gable-roofed ell at the rear of the house.
Situated next to the Covenanter Church, the Borden House reinforces the late eighteenth century flavour of this southern entrance to the village of Grand Pré. Like the church, the Borden House is set quite close to the road and helps to create a sense of intimate enclosure and long-time settlement.
Source: Provincial Heritage Program property files, no. 239, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS.
Character-defining elements relating to the Neo-Classical style architecture of Borden House include:
- one-and-a-half storey wood-frame construction;
- symmetrical, five-bay front façade;
- wood shingle clad, with plain wooden cornerboards;
- central door set in a hip-roofed porch with sidelights;
- original central chimney; end chimney added later;
- 9/6 windows;
- large peaked dormers on the roof;
- round-headed dormer windows, with small capital mouldings;
- gable-roofed ell at the rear of the house;
- gable-roofed, wooden shingle-clad barn attached behind the house;
- diamond-shaped window in the gable end of the attached barn.