Muskoka To-DAILY

Prime Minister Robert Borden playing golf in Gravenhurst when First World War broke out

GRAVENHURST — A century ago, the start of the First World War was a distant thought for most in Muskoka and those holidaying here.

Prime minister Robert Borden's golf game suffered from outbreak of First World War.

Prime minister Robert Borden’s golf game suffered from outbreak of First World War.

But not for then Canadian prime minister Robert Laird Borden.

He was monitoring the shooting situation in Balkans closely.

According to his diaries, in July 1914 the 60-year-old lawyer from AnnapolisValley was on holidays at a resort in Muskoka, golfing at Gravenhurst and cruising through Lakes Rosseau and Joseph with his wife and Timothy Eaton’s widow.

The assassination in Sarajevo was a far-off event that summer in a not unlike today.

As the first news reports of the impending war came on July 27 – when Austria declared war on Serbia – Canadians braced.

Borden, who was watching the escalating events in Europe was said to have been also following the news by reading the local weekly newspapers in Muskoka, which back then carried a page or two of national and international news sent up by train to them from Toronto via news plates ready for the presses.

Borden also kept in touch with anxious telegrams from friends across the country.

But apparently he remained relatively calm about the crisis, which did not keep him from returning to the links, though he noted in his diary that he “played badly.”

Borden would only return to Gravenhurst and board a train for Ottawa on July 30, where on Aug. 4, 1914Canada was at war along with Britain and its allies.

And over the next four years Canada defined ourselves as an independent nation as more than 60,000 Canadians died it epic battles that showed what we were made of.

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