L’Affaire Joseph Boyden

The Joseph Boyden affair broke just before Christmas, which is probably why it hasn’t blown up into mega-controversy deserves to be be. APTN found pretty indisputable evidence that Boyden, the country’s number one indigenous author, isn’t indigenous at all.

This provoked all sorts of nonsensical responses about blood and DNA, which might have made sense had Joseph Boyden been brought up aboriginal. But he hadn’t. According to Boyden, his childhood was spent in suburban Toronto, where his father was  doctor, who had been awarded the Distinguished Service Order and was the most highly decorated medical officer of World War II.

Under the circumstances, I felt someone should probably look into that story about Boyden Sr. especially since it was his brother, Erl Boyden, who had posed as “Injun Joe” in the fifties. Perhaps, fabulism ran in the family.

As it turned out, there definitely was a Dr. Raymond Boyden with the Canadian Army Medical Corps and he was indeed a decorated veteran.

Here is his medical school graduation photo and blurb, giving his birth date as 1899, which would make him 66 or 67 when Joseph was born. That’s an older father, even by today’s standards, so it makes sense some of the details got blurred along the way.

Dr. Raymond Boyden
Dr. Raymond Boyden

What’s more, another branch of the family has many members who continue to serve in the Canadian military. One of those relatives wrote to me saying that he did not want his Grandad’s legacy to be questioned and tarnished by recent events. He attached a picture of his grandfather’s medals, which I have posted below:



4 thoughts on “L’Affaire Joseph Boyden

  1. Raymond Boyden was NOT the most highly decorated medical officer, from Canada and certainly not of any allied force.

    NOT ‘the most decorated Canadian Medical Officer in WWII.

    A Lieutenant Colonel Corrigan, who was the highest in command at the time he received his DSO was no doubt the most decorated MO in the Canadian Forces.

    Needs more research, but R. Boyden has not been declared the most decorated MO in WWII except by his literary son. That claim is not even made in Boyden’s CMA obit.

    DSO medals are for Officers only. Naturally, as his dad was already a qualified Doctor, he was automatically made an Officer when he joined. However, many Canadian medical officers also received DSOs. His dad was undoubtedly valiant and brave, clearly, but not necessarily extraordinary.

    So, J. Boyden has possibly amplified the truth about his dad. Not the end of the world, perhaps irrelevant in the big picture of the current discussion of his conflicting iterations of his alleged indigenous roots, but while reading about his ancestral claims, I expected a pattern: if someone is egocentric enough to stretch the truth about one aspect of his heritage, the probability of that person stretching the truth about other family details would be higher than the norm.


  2. The highest decoration/medal that can be received by Canadians (and all countries in the British Empire) during WWII was the Victoria Cross. That qualifies as the most highly decorated.

    16 Canadians received the Victoria Cross. They, therefore, are more ‘Highly Decorated’ soldiers of the Canadian Forces. Note that Boyden is not one of them. http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/medals-decorations/orders-decorations/canadian-victoria-cross-recipients


  3. They got rid of this evidence pretty quick but that’s o.k. I saved a screen shot
    showing Mary Boyden as a Member of Six Nations..also as a point of interest
    on Two Row Times website..as a comment on an opinion piece…about Joseph Boyden ..there is a comparison between Joseph Boyden and Joseph Bruchac..
    Check that out it’s almost bizarre.


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