12 years old. To my son Borden
My Dear Son;
How dear you are to me. You will never know or how hard it is for me to leave you, perhaps never to return. You can never understand unless you go through the same ordeal yourself some day, and I hope you may never have to, but if you do, face it boy, face it bravely, do not back down. I love you with all the power of love within me and now on the eve of my departure for war I am writing you. And if I do not come back this will help you to understand why I went, why I took such a risk, why it was necessary. I am a man and being a man I could not standby and see our country in danger and not do my best to save it. It does not appeal to all alike. If you grow older you will realize more fully what I mean. Perhaps when you read this the war will be over and peace in the world once more.
It may be my lot to fall and not return with the troops, and if so, I would like you to always remember that I loved you better than life itself. I have looked forward to the time when you would be a little older and I would be helping you shape your future and give you a father’s council and you would have the benefit of the years of experience I have had. We would be good friends you and I, the best of friends, you are my oldest son and I hope you will grow up to be as good a man as you promise to at present my boy. Always be good to your mother, if my actions deprive you of a father, you will still have one of the best mothers. You cannot afford to neglect her honour, and love her above all else, and you can safely rely on her councils and judgment. Be kind and true to Grandma, she is daddy’s mother, and has a great store of wisdom for boys and girls.
I must think of you as a boy of twelve, a big boy, a true boy who will make a man. True men are not plenty and all boys are not true boys, be a true boy. There are things to be true too, 1st be true to your “God”. 2nd Be true to yourself. 3rd be true to your country.
You can be true to your god by obeying his commands, carrying out his will and being kind to all his greatness.
You can be true to yourself by treating yourself fair. God has given you a body to go through this life, use your body in the way he would wish you to. Keep your body clean, that will keep it healthy, keep your mind clean by reading good books, thinking good thoughts and doing kind acts. Choose clean friends and always be friendly. Never go back on a friend, one good friend is worth a great many poor ones. In your play and daily contact with your friends and school fellows be clean in your conduct to them, particularly with the girls, remember you are a gentleman and treat them as ladies. No matter what they are like, it will not excuse you, avoid the bad ones, you cannot afford to spend time with them that would not be treating yourself fairly. To get an education, God has given you a time of youth to prepare your mind, knowledge gained every day, but only one day at a time.
You will get tired of school and you will see boys who do not go very much and you will think they get along just as well, but they will not, and they will perhaps find it out in time. Study your lesson each day, one day at a time and you will find the better you know your lessons the better you will like to go to school. You will not be true to yourself unless you learn your lessons each day as they come along. You are storing up knowledge that will be most useful bye and bye, get your storehouse, “Your mind” will stored with the useful knowledge you get at school and as you go through life you will always find use for it and no man can take it from you and you cannot lose it. You will always have it. Be true to yourself in your play. Play fair or not at all. A boy who will not play fair is likely to make a man who will cheat in his business, they are both on the same road, the business comes a little further along you can be true to your country by being a good citizen, one ever ready to defend what is right and oppose what is wrong. As you grow to manhood you will have to decide on many questions “public questions” and take one side or the other. It is your duty to do that, decide honestly and then act accordingly. If filling any office of any society, or in any public capacity, do your best. This is all included in “citizenship” of the right kind. It is not always necessary to die for your country, to serve her, you can live for her, only do your duty as you see it and you will be fulfilling your obligations.
I have many friends upon whom you can rely for council and help. I cannot name them all, but only a few of my nearest and dearest ones. I need not mention your uncles Elias & Forbes as well as Uncle’s Charlie, Hallet & Uncle Reg. You can always depend on Rev. E. B. Spurr, he is one of my very best friends and I claim him as a brother. Mr. C. L. G. Hervey, Mr. L. Wiltshire, Mr. C.C. Rice, Mr. R.E. Mchiterson (?), as well as many of the newer friends in Bridgetown. You will of course have your own friends and companions, but you can remember these as some of my best and truest friends. I did not mention Mr. Young or Mr. Williams as you know now what friends they are.
And now my own dear boy may God keep you, protect you and watch over you and make you worthy of the love bestowed upon you. Be kind to your sisters. You have two sisters now and I hope you will have them for many years. You and Douglas love each other which is right. I know you both love your sisters and they love you. How happy you will be.
My own dear boy I must close. I cannot express my love for you. May God keep you and watch over you.
Your Loving Father
(Letter read by Borden Tupper on his 12th birthday June 2, 1916. His father Major James H. Tupper never returned to Canada. He was killed Sept 15, 1916 in the battle for the Somme.)
Rev. Dr. Borden Tupper is Peter Davison’s Maternal Grandfather