Lieutenant Colonel G.W. Fowler, MP
104th (New Brunswick) Battalion
There is often a vast difference between the stories they tell in Canada, as to their achievements in France, and the stories that are told of them here. There have been cases where such Officers have, in consequence of the skillful manner in which they have trumpeted their own achievements (which were really of a very minor character) obtained advancement, much to the annoyance and disgust of men whose services have been far more valuable, but who have remained steadily on the job.
(Fowler to Robert Borden, 6 Sept 1916)
Born on 24 February 1859, George William Fowler was Conservative MP for King’s and Albert (1900—1908, 1911—1917) and senator for New Brunswick (1917—1924). A graduate of Dalhousie University and Boston College, he was a lawyer and Grand Master in the provincial Orange Order.
A retired militia officer with twenty years in the 8th Hussars, Fowler was appointed to command the 104th Battalion from New Brunswick in November 1915. On his attestation form, he lowered his birth date by two years and curiously listed his religion as pagan.
In a recruiting speech, Fowler declared, “You know me in the past for a strong partisan… but there is no question of politics or race or religion in this battalion.” Nevertheless, he justified the exclusion of Black volunteers, stating: “I have been fortunate to have secured a very fine class of recruits, and I did not think it was fair to these men that they should have to mingle with negroes.”
After his unit was broken up in England, Fowler became commander of the 13th Reserve Battalion. He returned to Canada in June 1917 when Prime Minister Borden appointed him to the Senate. A “great believer” in carrying out the contract established by the Canadian people with veterans and their dependents, Fowler supported expansive pension legislation. He explained, “I think the question of justice and right is more important than the question of cost.”
He remained in the upper chamber until his death in 1924 at the age of sixty-five.