Sandford Fleming

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Sir Sandford Fleming was born at Kirkcaldy, Fifeshire, Scotland, January 7, 1827, migrating to Canada with his brothers in 1845.

It is on record that, at the burning of the Parliament Buildings at Montreal by a Tory mob in 1849, he was one of four who succeeded in removing Queen Victoria's portrait.

He began his studies in surveying in Scotland, and his professional career in Canada on the Northern Railway, becoming chief engineer in 1857.

He qualified as a provincial land surveyor April 28th, 1849, and was appointed a member of the Board of Examiners in 1852, retaining that office for about fifteen years. From 1864 to 1876 he was chief engineer of the Intercolonial Railway and, in 1871, was appointed chief engineer on CPR surveys.

In 1872 he headed an exploratory expedition to the Pacific Ocean, via the Yellowhead Pass, the results of which are embodied in the book, "Ocean to Ocean." During the '70s he also conducted railway exploration work in Newfoundland. In 1880 he retired from the service of the Dominion Government, but continued to act in an advisory capacity. In the same year he was elected as Chancellor of Queen's University, which office he held until his death.

His efforts contributed in no small degree to the adoption of initial meridians common to all nations, and the initiation of the movement for a reform in time reckoning, resulting in -our present twenty-four hour system of time zones. Another subject which he studied and made his own was that of an Empire-girdling system of ocean cables. The Pacific cable was mainly due to his untiring propaganda.

Various honours and degrees were conferred upon him from time to time in consideration of his valued services.

The venerable Canadian Institute of Toronto was organized in 1851. Mr. Fleming was one of the charter members, and chiefly instrumental in its organization.

He died at Halifax on July 22nd, 1915. Winterholme was his Ottawa residence after 1869.

Source: Association of Ontario Land Surveyors