Borden-Carleton is a Canadian Town located on the south shore of Prince Edward Island, fronting on the Northumberland Strait. The town was created through a merger on April 12, 1995 of the original port town of Borden (an incorporated town) and the farming community of Carleton. The town of Borden opted to demote its status to a village in light of a declining tax base with the pending completion of the fixed link project and the closure of the Marine Atlantic ferry service.
Borden traces its history to Prince Edward Island's requirements for transportation to mainland North America whereas Carleton was a surrounding farming community to the north and west of the port. Borden's development is related to the fall of fortunes for another nearby community during the First World War. A winter iceboat service crossed the Abegweit Passage between nearby Cape Traverse to Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick for many decades during the 1800s and early 1900s. The Prince Edward Island Railway built a line from its mainline near Emerald Junction to the Cape Traverse wharf to facilitate this traffic in the 1880s.
In 1919 the community was incorporated as the town of Borden, taking its name from Prime MinisterSir Robert Borden, whose government was responsible for the decision to locate the ferry terminal at Carleton Point. The area outside of Borden remained with the community name of Carleton. Borden, or Port Borden, as it was frequently called, grew with the increased use of the ferry system. After the SS Prince Edward Island was modified by CNR in the 1920s to accept automobiles in addition to rail cars (after PEI legalized the use of automobiles), roads connecting to the port were improved.In 1947, the QSMV Abegweit entered service and carried the ferry system through the 1950s but was quickly overwhelmed by the increase in automobile traffic, in addition to the constant rail traffic. The completion of the Trans-Canada Highway across PEI and the neighbouring Maritime provinces in the early 1960s saw Borden host a new automobile-only ferry, the MV Confederation, which was built in 1962. During the late 1960s, automobile traffic saw record growth.
The late 1960s saw a temporary relief vessel, the MV Lucy Maude Montgomery, enter service for several years, along with a much larger and more powerful icebreaking railcar ferry, the MV John Hamilton Gray, which entered service in 1968, retiring the SS Prince Edward Island after a record 51 years of service. New docks were constructed and more permanent vessels for the ferry service were ordered. In 1971 the sister ships MV Holiday Island and MV Vacationland entered service, and Borden processed record traffic on its ferry system in the lead-up to PEI's centennial year in 1973, after which the MV Confederation and MV Lucy Maude Montgomery were reassigned to other services and left Borden permanently.
In 1977, CN reorganized its ferry services in eastern Canada under a separate operating company named CN Marine; the new company immediately ordered a newly designed ferry to replace the MV Abegweit, which reached 30 years service that year. The new vessel, originally named MV Straitway but renamed MV Abegweit (after the original Abegweit was renamed MV Abby prior to being retired), entered service in 1982 and was the largest capacity ferry vessel to operate from Borden.
In 1992 it was announced that the Northumberland Strait Crossing Project, or the "Fixed Link", would be built and a Calgary company, Strait Crossing Incorporated (SCI) had been selected as the developer. SCI secured the use of the old Borden Elementary School (which had been replaced several years earlier by the Amherst Cove Consolidated School on the northern edge of town) and undertook drill core sampling for bridge pier locations through 1993. In 1994 a farm property on Amherst Head, immediately east of Borden, was purchased and a staging facility was constructed for building massive bridge components on shore. A large pier was built into the harbour to accommodate a heavy lift marine crane which would carry the components into the Northumberland Strait to be installed. Throughout the 1994-1996 period, Borden's local economy grew at an unprecedented rate with the influx of over 5,000 workers in the town of 800.