Sanford Fleming – The Father of Standard Time
I do business all across the world. I have a series of clocks over my desk set to the time zones of Vancouver, Tokyo, Ottawa and London. I blame it all on Sir Sanford Fleming. Sanford Fleming was born in Kirkaldy, Scotland in 1827. He emigrated to Canada at the age of 17 and settled in Quebec. Using his mathematical mind, Fleming settled in as a surveyor. But he wouldn’t stop at drawing maps, he wanted to build a railway. In 1858, as the chief engineer of the Northern Railway, he proposed the idea of a great rail project stretching to the western coast of Canada.
After providing the original survey for the great national railway project he decided that he would be part of the team to actual build it. Although headed by Van Horne, Fleming made a significant contribution to the project. So much so that he is the bearded gentleman holding the sledge hammer, standing next to the young boy in the famous “Last Spike” photograph.
In 1851 Canada issued the first adhesive-back stamp, a three-penny beaver stamp (first class postage, if you can believe it!). Sanford Fleming designed it.
But that’s not what I will remember Sanford for. In order to help the transcontinental trains run on time, he devised the concept of Standard Time and splitting the world into 24 time zones. His concept was adopted in 1884. See our article on What Time is it in Canada to see a map of all the time zones in Canada.