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Memorable Manitobans: Sandford Fleming (1827-1915)


Born at Fifeshire, Scotland in 1827, he studied engineering in Scotland and immigrated to Canada in 1845, subsequently working for the Northern Railway. He served as chief engineer of the Intercolonial Railway while it was under construction. He was then appointed engineer-in-chief for the surveys of the Canadian Pacific Railway, providing the surveys on which that railroad’s route was based. In 1879 he investigated early flooding in Manitoba in order to decide where to place bridges across the Red River.

In 1880 he retired to do scientific work. He developed, among other things, daylight saving time and the 24-hour method of reckoning time. He also worked on cable communication. Knighted in 1877, he was an ardent imperialist who served as president of the Royal Society in 1888. His major publications include A Railway to the Pacific through British Territory (1858). The best biography is H. MacLean, Man of Steel: The Story of Sir Sandford Fleming (1969).


Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 14 January 2019

Memorable Manitobans

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