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Sir Sandford Fleming (1827-1915)

Standard Time was invented by Scottish Canadian, Sir Sandford Fleming in 1878.


Sir Sandford Fleming

Sir Sandford Fleming

(C.M.G.) Ottawa, Ontario. Jan. 1895." Topley, William James. National Archives of Canada
Sir Sandford Fleming was born in Kirkaldy Scotland and emigrated to Canada in 1845 at the age of seventeen. Sir Sandford Fleming first worked as a surveyor and later became a railway engineer for the Canadian Pacific Railway.

According to WebExhibits: Sir Sandford Fleming advocated the adoption of a standard time or mean time and hourly variations from that according to established time zones. He was instrumental in convening the 1884 International Prime Meridian Conference in Washington, at which the system of international standard time - still in use today - was adopted.

A few of Sir Sandford Fleming's many achievements:

  • Designed the first Canadian postage stamp. The three penny stamp issued in 1851 had a beaver on it (the national animal of Canada).
  • Establishment of Universal Standard Time, Fleming recommended the standard to the Royal Canadian Institute in 1879. Standard Time was accepted universally in 1884. Sir Sandford Fleming was behind the adoption of the present time meridians in both Canada and the U.S.
  • Designed an early in-line skate in 1850.
  • Founded the Royal Canadian Institute in Toronto in 1849.
  • Surveyed for the first railroad route across Canada
  • Was the head engineer for most of the Intercolonial Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Sir Sandford Fleming - Father of Standard Time

In 1876, Sir Sandford Fleming missed a train he was supposed to travel on in Ireland. The train's schedule had misprinted the departure time as p.m. instead of a.m. Fleming was inspired to create a 24-hour international clock based on the world globe meridian of Greenwich (Greenwich mean time).

Standard time in time zones was instituted in the U.S. and Canada by the railroads on 18 November 1883. Before then, time of day was a local matter, and most cities and towns used some form of local solar time, maintained by some well-known clock (for example, on a church steeple or in a jeweler's window).

Standard time in time zones was not established in U.S. law until the Act of March 19, 1918, sometimes called the Standard Time Act.

Continue > History of Clocks

alternative spelling = Sir Sanford Fleming
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