- Sandford Fleming
name = Sir Sandford Fleming
caption = Portrait of Sir Sandford Fleming
birth_date = January 7, 1827
Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland
death_date = July 22, 1915
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
known_for = Inventing, most notably
Sir Sandford Fleming (January 7, 1827 – July 22, 1915) was a prolific Scottish-born Canadian
engineerand inventor, known for introducing Universal Standard Time and Canada's postage stamp, a huge body of surveyingand map making, engineering much of the Intercolonial Railwayand the Canadian Pacific Railway, and a founding member of the Royal Society of Canadaand founder of the Royal Canadian Institute, a science organization in Toronto.
Fleming was born in
Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland, and in 1845, at the age of 17, he emigrated with his older brother David to Ontario(then the western half of the British province of United Canada). Their route took them through much of the Canadian colonies, Quebec City, Montreal, Kingston, Ontario, before settling in Peterborough, Ontariowith their cousins until 1847.
In 1849 he established the
Royal Canadian Institute, which was formally incorporated on November 4, 1851. In 1851 he designed the "Threepenny Beaver", the first Canadian postage stamp. Throughout this time he was fully employed as a surveyor, mostly for the Grand Trunk Railway. His work for them eventually gained him the position as "Chief Engineer" of the Northern Railway of Canadain 1855, where he tirelessly advocated the construction of iron bridges instead of wood for safety reasons.
In 1858 he first proposed a coast to coast railway line spanning all of
British North America. The timing was not quite right, but a few years later he was appointed as the sole engineer to supervise the survey of the proposed Intercolonial Railway, linking the Maritime provinces with Quebec. He moved for a time to Halifax, Nova Scotiaduring construction, where he built a house on the seaward end of town. In 1872 the newly formed Canadian government decided to build the rail link to the Pacific Ocean, and naturally the job of surveying the route fell to Fleming. That same year he organized an expedition to the Pacific that included surveyors as well as the naturalist John Macoun, and his Church of Scotlandclergyman from the St. Matthew's Presbyterian "kirk" from Halifax, George Monro Grant. Over the next few years he supervised both the Intercolonial and the Canadian Pacific Railway, a job he completed in 1876 before turning over the chief engineer position to his long term collaborator, Collingwood Schreiber. Fleming was present when Donald Smith drove in the "Last Spike" in Craigellachie, British Columbiain 1885, now as a board member of the Canadian Pacific company. He published "The Intercolonial: A Historical Sketch" (1876).
Inventor of standard time
After missing a train in 1876 in
Irelandbecause its printed schedule listed p.m. instead of a.m., he proposed a single 24-hour clock for the entire world, located at the centre of the Earth and "not" linked to any surface meridian. At a meeting of the Royal Canadian Institute on February 8, 1879 he linked it to the anti-meridian of Greenwich (now 180°). He suggested that standard time zones could be used locally, but they were subordinate to his single world time. He continued to promote his system at major international conferences, including the International Meridian Conferenceof 1884. That conference accepted a different version of Universal Time, but refused to accept his zones, stating that they were a local issue outside its purview. Nevertheless, by 1929 all of the major countries of the world had accepted time zones.
In 1880 he retired from the world of surveying, and took the position of Chancellor of Queen's University in
Kingston Ontario, a position he held for his last 35 years, where his former Minister George Monro Grantwas principal from 1877 until Grant's death in 1902. Not content to leave well enough alone, he tirelessly advocated the construction of a submarine telegraph cable connecting all of the British Empire, the All Red Line, which was completed in 1902. He was a freemason. [ [http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/textfiles/famous.html A few famous freemasons] ] In his later years he retired to his house in Halifax, later deeding the house and the 95 acres (38 hectares) to the city, now known as Sir Sandford Fleming Park(Dingle Park). He also kept residence in Ottawa, and was buried there, in the Beechwood Cemetery.
His accomplishments were well known world wide, and in 1897 he was
knighted by Queen Victoria. Fleming Hall was built in his honour at Queen's in 1901, and rebuilt after a fire in 1932. It was the home of the university's Electrical Engineering department.
Peterborough, Ontario, Fleming College, a Community College of Applied Arts and Technology bearing his name, was opened in 1967, with additional campuses in Lindsay/Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton, and Cobourg. Also, a building in the University of Torontois named after Fleming (Sandford Fleming building). It belongs to the University of Toronto Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering.
* [http://www.histori.ca/minutes/minute.do?ID=10182 Heritage Minutes: Sir Sandford Fleming]
* [http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=7370 Biography at the "Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online"]
* [http://www.flemingc.on.ca/index.cfm/go/fleming/sub/namesake/cfid/2943603/cftoken/90078266.cfm Biography from "Sir Sandford Fleming College" website]
* [http://ontarioplaques.com/Plaques_Toronto/Plaque_Toronto32.html Ontario Plaques - The Birthplace of Standard Time]
* [http://www.kirkcaldycivicsociety.co.uk/plq/sandshirra.htm Reverend Shirra and Sir Sanford Fleming Plaque in Kirkcaldy]
* [http://www.randomhouse.ca/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780676974737 "Time Lord"] by Clark Blaise: a biography of Stanford Fleming and the idea of standard time
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