Virtual Museum Canada

Sir SandFord Fleming - The Knight Of Time

The knight of time

Time and the sun

Letter on the use of time zones
lens(63 k)

About 3,000 years ago, the Egyptians developed the sun dial, an instrument that measures time by following the movement of the shadow cast by the sun.

Later, other time measurement tools were invented: mechanical clocks, pendulum clocks, etc.

In the nineteenth century, every Canadian locality established its own time by observing the position of the sun at noon. Because of the earth’s rotation, two municipalities 20 kilometres apart could have two different times. At a time when people rarely travelled from one city to another, this time lag was not a problem.

Train timetable
lens(73 k)

But when railways and roads made travelling easier, when the telegraph and later the telephone made it possible to communicate almost in real time from one city to another, and when the development of trade created a new need to manage production and delivery times, then the need for standardized time measurement began to be felt.

Local time led to confusion in communications, especially when the schedules of trains covering long distances were involved.

There is nothing surprising about the fact that the railway industry was the first to adopt a standard time system.


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Cartoon A big problem... (.pdf - 928Kb) |  Transcription

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