January 7, 2017
Sandford Fleming’s 190th Birthday
It was Ireland in 1876 when a mistake printed in a timetable caused Sandford Fleming to miss his train but alter time as we know it.
Historically, regions used solar time to set their own clocks. It worked well enough until trains came along and the need for standardized time arose, which brings us back to Fleming.
Following his missed train, Fleming—a Canadian inventor and engineer of Scottish birth—proposed a worldwide standard time at a meeting of the Royal Canadian Institute on February, 8, 1879. He advocated for dividing the world into 24 time zones beginning at the Greenwich Meridian and spaced at 15 degree intervals. His proposal gave way to the International Prime Meridian Conference which convened in 1884 and was attended by 25 nations. It was here that Fleming’s system of international standard time was adopted.
Fleming was also known for helping build the Intercontinental Railway, serving as chief engineer of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and designing Canada’s first postage stamp. Today’s Doodle reflects Fleming’s legacy on this, the 190th anniversary of his birth.
Doodle by Sophie Diao