Sandford Fleming

 

Sandford Fleming was born on January 7, 1827 in Scotland. He emigrated to Quebec in 1845 at the age of seventeen. Fleming began work in Canada as a surveyor and worked as a Chief Engineer for the construction of the Intercolonial Railway. Later, he held that same title for the Canadian Pacific Railway.

His greatest contribution to railroading was the introduction of Standard Time. Previously, watches were set to the sun, and when the sun was directly overhead it was 12 noon. However, under that system, 12 noon in Kingston was twelve minutes later than noon in Montreal and thirteen minutes before noon in Toronto. Travellers had to reset their watches in each new town they visited to be on the correct local time.

 

With the advent of the transcontinental railway, this way of keeping time became increasingly problematic for station managers who could not deal with train schedules that were based on local time. Sandford Fleming devised a solution to the problem which was a universal system of time that would work not only for Canada, but for all countries across the globe. He devised a world map and divided it into 24 time zones. There would be one hour difference in between each of these zones, and all the clocks in these zones would read the same time. Despite negative feedback from some, Standard Time was implemented on January 1, 1885. Fleming died on July 22, 1915 in Halifax, Canada.

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