FLEMING, Sandford




Author Tags: 1850-1900, Early B.C., Transient, Transportation

An ardent imperialist, surveyor, inventor and engineer, Sir Sandford Fleming travelled from Halifax to B.C. to produce a 449-page historical overview and travel memoir, England and Canada: A Summer Tour--Old and New Westminster (Montreal: Dawson Brothers, 1884). Almost half of the book concerns B.C. and his visits to Lytton, Port Moody, New Westminster, Victoria, Vancouver, Kamloops, Savona, etc.

Born in 1827 in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, Fleming immigrated to Cobourg, Ontario in his late teens, in 1845, with his older brother David. He co-founded the Royal Canadian Institute in Toronto in 1849, designed Canada's first adhesive postage stamp (the Threepenny Beaver) in 1851 and married Jeannie Hall of Peterborough in 1855. He was remarkably influential throughout Canada and also the world, designing the in-line skate at age 21 and recommending the establishment of Universal Standard Time in 1879. His proposal to divide the world into 24 equal time zones was adopted at a Washington conference in 1884. He also advocated the establishment of a submarine cable to link Canada and Great Britain with the rest of the British Empire. and Europe. This occurred in 1902. After he was appointed Chief Engineer of the Northern Railway in 1855, Fleming proposed a coast-to-coast railway in 1858. In that year he published A Railway to the Pacific through British Territory. Fleming became chief government engineer for the planning of the railway to the Pacific in 1871. As a member of the Board of Directors for Canadian Pacific, he was present when Donald A. Smith famously drove in the "last spike" in 1885. As a surveyor, he had worked on the plan to link the Maritimes with Quebec on the proposed Intercolonial Railway and he had also surveyed Canadian Pacific Railway lines between 1872 and 1876. In 1872 he had travelled by horse and by foot across the Prairies and into the Rocky Mountains to recommend the Yellowhead Pass for a railway route. This proposal was adopted by Canadian National Railway. A southerly route through the Kicking Horse and Rogers Passes was adopted by Canadian Pacific based on feasibility studies conducted by Fleming and his assistants. Sandford Fleming was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1897. He served as Chancellor of Queen's University for 35 years until his death in Halifax in 1915.

[BCBW 2004] "Transportation" "1850-1900" "Early B.C."