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Canadian History for Kids: Sandford Fleming

He missed the train!

That was all the inspiration that Sir Sandford Fleming needed to create Standard time.

His idea was adopted by North American railways November 18th, 1883. This Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of our Canada, looks at the life of Canadian inventor Sandford Fleming.

This Canadian History for Kids article begins when 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.

This Canadian History for Kids article continues when after missing a train in 1876 in Ireland because 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.

For Sandford Fleming the solution to this problem was a universal system of time, that would not only work for Halifax and Victoria, but for Paris and New Delhi as well. He devised a world map divided into 24 Time Zones. Within each zone the clocks would indicate the same time, with a one hour difference between adjoining zones.

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).

At a meeting of the Royal Canadian Institute on February 8, 1879 he linked it to the anti-meridian of Greenwich (now 180°). By 1929 all of the major countries of the world had accepted time zones.

Canadian History for Kid’s list of 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.
  • And that’s this weeks Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of our Canada.

And that’s this weeks Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of our Canada.

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