Montreal, February 9, 1865 To the Honorable Wm. McDougall
Provincial Secretary, Canada
In conducting this exploration or research, […] I have mainly applied myself to the study of the best ways to overcome or avoid the obstacles that had been hitherto thought of as great or insurmountable.
When he came to Canada, Sandford Fleming discovered an immense, unsettled country with extremely varied terrain and where everything needed to be built… and measured. What a challenge for a surveyor! Surveying involves measuring land to determine property lines. Sandford Fleming first worked as a surveyor in cities and drew maps of urban areas.
Then, as a railway engineer, he surveyed large areas of Canada in order to choose the best land for railway lines. Experience and sound judgement were needed, for even a small mistake might have expensive consequences.
Some parts of the country – particularly the Rocky Mountains – were as complex as a jigsaw puzzle.
Canadian engineers such as Fleming rose to these challenges so brilliantly that they became well known during this period as experts in building railways.