Virtual Museum Canada

Sir SandFord Fleming - The Knight Of Time

The knight of time

Jotting from the knight of time

Clocks showing time around the world based on longitude
lens(123 k)

In 1876, Sandford Fleming missed a train in Ireland and started to think about ways of standardizing time measurement.

In 1879, he presented a paper to the Canadian Institute in Toronto, recommending 24 global time zones to standardize time. The idea attracted interest.

Letter to Mr. Van Horne
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In 1881, Fleming surveyed railway engineers and scientists to verify their support for his scheme; a consensus appeared to emerge.

Four years later, American and Canadian railways adopted a system of wide time zones. Railway time, simple and standardized, became the standard for North America.

In 1884, Sandford Fleming convinced participants at the international conference on standardized time, held in Washington, to adopt international standards.

Note on the adoption of Greenwich as the international meridian
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The 25 nations attending the conference endorsed the principle and adopted the meridian of Greenwich, England, as a reference for longitude and time, with a one-hour shift for each time zone.

On January 1, 1885, the international time zone system officially came into effect.


The works of our students:
Cartoon Sandford Fleming (.pdf - 992Kb) |  Transcription



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