Virtual Museum Canada

Sir SandFord Fleming - The Knight Of Time

Life At Full Speed

Larger than life

Photograph of Sandford Fleming at age 47
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Sandford Fleming was a strong, vigorous man who loved the outdoors, challenges and adventure, and who was fiercely dedicated to his work. In 1867, however, this sturdy man involved in multiple projects was forced to take time off. He went to Europe for a vacation with his family. Unfortunately, the deaths of his mother-in-law and of his little daughter, who was barely a year old, cast a dark shadow on the trip. On his return he got back into harness, visiting sites as often as possible.

Excerpt from the journal kept by Fleming
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He was fair to people who worked for him: Amerindians hired for his surveying expeditions received the same wages as other employees, which at the time was exceptional. A religious man, Fleming was a Presbyterian who insisted that his employees take Sunday off as a day of rest and prayer. He even wrote a book of interdenominational prayers that he had printed and distributed to the men he sent to regions remote from civilization.

Letter from Fleming to Dr. Ross
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A prolific writer, he was interested in everything and published articles in many different publications. His social life was very active. Some people were irritated by the size of his ego, but he never let himself be discouraged by ill-natured gossip or the short-term views of some of his contemporaries. Sandford Fleming was shrewd, tenacious and determined.