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British Industrial History

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Sandford Fleming

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Sir Sandford Fleming (1827-1915) of Canada.

1827 Born in Kircaldy, Scotland, a son of Andrew and Elizabeth Fleming.

1845 Emigrated to Canada.

He surveyed and planned a railway to run from the Atlantic to the Pacific. He became director of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company when it was awarded the contract to build the line.

1851 Designed Canada's first postage stamp – the Threepenny Beaver.

1870s Mr Sandford Fleming was Engineer-in-Chief of the Intercolonial Railway.

1879 Began to advocate for a trans-Pacific telegraph cable which eventually resulted in an alternative route to connecting the Empire with the East, resulting in reduction in cable charges[1]

He conceived and introduced Universal Standard Time, which was adopted worldwide in 1885.

For a much more comprehensive account of Fleming's life and work, see Wikipedia entry.

1916 Obituary [2]

Sir SANDFORD FLEMING, K.C.M.G., died at Toronto on the 22nd July, 1915, at the advanced age of 88: Like Lord Strathcona, whose career Fleming’s in many respects resembles, he was of Scottish birth, emigrated to Canada at an early age, and spent a long and crowded life in building up the material resources of the Dominion and advancing the interests of the Empire. A full biography having been published, only a brief recital of the outstanding events of his career is necessary here.

Born at Kirkcaldy in 1827, he left his home for Canada in 1845, and secured employment on the engineering staff of the Canadian Northern Railway, then under construction, eventually becoming Chief Engineer of the line.

He was next chosen to survey and construct the Intercolonial Railway, a work of exceptional difficulty which he brought to a successful completion in 1876. His greatest work, however, was the survey and inception of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Accepting the post of Chief Engineer in 1871, he surmounted all the difficulties of survey and location, and although in 1880, when construction was well under way, he resigned his executive office, he subsequently joined the directorate and kept closely in touch with the Company until his death.

For his services he was made a C.M.G. in 1897. As an Imperialist his record is distinguished and varied, but his principal work was the initiation of the Canada-Australia cable, and his tireless advocacy of All-British cable communication. In 1897 he received the K.C.M.G. Among other offices held by him were those of president of the Royal Society of Canada and Chancellor of the University of Canada.

Sir Sandford Fleming was elected a Member of the Institution on the 23rdd May, 1871.

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