This week we acquired an interesting Nova Scotia item. It is Tales Told in Rhyme by William
Coates Borrett. I was not very familiar with the author but I have seen his Tales Told Under the
Old Town Clock a few times. What is unique about this book is that the title page was
constructed for presentation. I have never seen this before. So, here is how the title page was
set up (also see photo):
This Book of “Tales Told in Rhyme”
With Drawings by the Author
Was Especially Made up for
With Best Wishes and Greetings
Halifax, N. S. 1950
William Coates Borrett, author, historian and broadcaster, was born in Dartmouth, N.S. in 1894. He was educated at royal military schools in Canada and in Wales. He served with the Canadian Armed Forces in both World Wars. Early in his career he was a pioneer in radio broadcasting, establishing the first commercial station in Nova Scotia in 1926 (CHNS). He was managing director until 1956 when he became vice-president of the Maritime Broadcasting Company. As an author and historian he was known for several books based on Tales Told Under the Old Town Clock, a series of talks on CHNS Radio, Halifax, in the 1940s and 1950s.
After his retirement from broadcasting he became commandant of the Canadian Corps of
Commissionaires (Nova Scotia Division) and was also appointed by the Canadian government
to oversee the restoration of Citadel Hill. He died in 1983. Laid in the book is his business card
"Major Wm. C. Borrett V. D., Adjutant “H” Division, Canadian Corps of Commissionaires,
A Liberal, he was elected four consecutive times to the House of Commons of Canada as the Member of Parliament representing the Nova Scotia electoral district of Halifax. He was first elected in the Canadian federal election of 1935, and was re-elected in 1940, 1945, and 1949.
On 28 July 1955, he was appointed to the Senate of Canada on the recommendation of Louis
St-Laurent, and represented the senatorial division of Halifax-Dartmouth until his death.
Outside of his political life, Isnor was a successful Halifax businessman and operated a chain of
clothing stores bearing his name in Nova Scotia. A street in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia was named
after him, as well a senior citizens home in Halifax, the Gordon B. Isnor Manor.
Not only does this book have the filled in the blank spaces by the author, it also has the
signature “Gordon B. Isnor” on the first free endpaper.
Presumably, Borrett had a pile of these printed up in 1950, and then presented them over the
ensuing years. Isnor was appointed to the Senate in 1955, so the presentation was later than
A great association volume between two prominent Nova Scotians of the mid-twentieth century.