Ross Borden and his parents stand by a statue of former prime minister and distant relation Robert Borden. (Hugo Wong/News staff)

Local Borden the perfect model for former prime minister

When Nathan Scott was commissioned to make a sculpture of Robert Borden, he would eventually need a model to take reference photos. After a conversation with his wife, he found the right candidate quite closeby.

“My wife mentioned the Bordens and they live just down the road from us! I’ve known who the Bordens were for years but never the connection so I went over there and asked them. And they said yeah, that would be my great-great-great uncle.”

Ross Borden, who runs Borden Mercantile — a longtime animal feed supplier, was “a little wide in the shoulders” according to Scott, but was otherwise an apt choice.

“He’d already sculpted Robert Borden’s head, and he said he only wanted me for my body,” said Ross.

The younger Borden said he just posed for 10 to 15 minutes in a rented costume while Scott took reference photos from all angles.

Ross’ mother traced their lineage back to John Borden and his nephew Perry Borden, who moved from Rhode Island to Nova Scotia. John Borden is Ross’ five-times great grandfather and Perry Borden is [Robert’s] great grandfather.

Scott, who sculpted the Sidney bench-sitters “Mrs. Stone” and “Old Salty,” was contacted about a year and a half ago to be one of four sculptors across Canada responsible for 23 statues depicting the nation’s past prime ministers. He said he was chosen in part because an organizer of the project — Prime Ministers’ Walk — came to downtown Victoria and saw his sculpture of a young girl running into her arms of her father who had come home from sea, titled “Homecoming”. He began work on the Borden statue in February and only finished it on Monday.

By Wednesday (Oct. 18), the 485-pound statue will be on a truck to Toronto after about $800 in shipping fees. Eventually, it will end up in Baden, Ont., where it will be part of a sculpture garden that will eventually have all the Canadian prime ministers. Scott will fly over and install it himself on Nov. 3, which only takes about half an hour, before unveiling it on Nov. 6.

Scott said there are few photos of Borden, “so I had $100 bills all over my studio.” Scott chose the pose, but he was asked to include 15 or 16 themes into the sculpture, which exist as small details called ‘Easter eggs.’ For instance, the newspaper tucked under Borden’s arm is the Ottawa Citizen’s front page for Nov. 11, 1918, Armistice Day. The headline: “PEACE”. Symbols like the Freemason’s square and compass, the scales of justice and a broken heart (he died of a heart attack) are carved into his cane.

Scott was proud to be one of the artists selected and said he learned a lot about the wartime prime minister in the process: Borden signed the Treaty of Versailles instead of allowing Britain to represent the colony, introduced federal income tax, and was prime minister when women voted for the first time in a federal election.

“It’s nice to be able to sculpt history. Often we’re looking to the future and we forget our past, so it’s neat to be able to [sculpt] a guy like this,” said Scott.

 

Prime Minister Borden was 5’ 9”, but the statue stands 6’ 1” due to a request from the organizers. (Hugo Wong/News staff)

Just Posted

Environment plan to be completed on proposed rock quarry

O.K. Industries sends letter to Highlands, local association

Juan de Fuca teams dominate provincial play

Peewee A1 Whalers win second consecutive provincial championship

SYMPHONY SPLASH: Movie music keeps things fun at Splash

Victoria Symphony event is far more than just a classical music concert

Goudy library expansion opens to the public

New work space area includes charging stations

View Royal amends zoning bylaw for liveaboard vessels

The Town is taking a proactive approach to regulate waterway

All-Indigenous teams break new ground, making BC Games history

This is the first time there have been dedicated Indigenous teams at the BC Summer Games

Canada to resettle dozens of White Helmets and their families from Syria

There are fears the volunteers would become a target for government troops

Francesco Molinari wins British Open at Carnoustie

It is his first win at a major and the first by an Italian

Government sets full-time salary range for Justin Trudeau’s nanny

At its top range, the order works out to a rate of $21.79 per hour, assuming a 40-hour work week

Gold medals for Victoria rowers at BC Games

Both girls row out of the Victora City Rowing Club at Elk Lake

Recovery high schools could help teens before addiction takes hold: B.C. parents

Schools could provide mental health supports and let parents discuss their children’s drug use openly

Haida Gwaii village faces housing crisis, targets short-term rentals

Housing is tight and the village is pretty close to zero vacancy

Evacuation numbers remain at nearly 1,000 as B.C. wildfires rage on

200 firefighters and 18 helicopters were working to increase the containment of the fires

B.C. VIEWS: Unions regain control of public construction

B.C.’s 40-year battle swings back to international big labour

Most Read