On Saturday, the Google homepage doodle – a drawing, video or game that replaces the Google logo to mark an important event or person – celebrated the birthday of former Queen’s University Chancellor, Sandford Fleming.
Along with being the Chancellor at Queen’s for 35 years, he was also the chief engineer for both the Inter-Colonial and the Canadian Pacific Railways.
That role resulted in Fleming’s development of Universal Standard Time & time zones, adopted worldwide in 1884. In standard time, the globe is divided into 24 time zones, each an hour from the next and all a fixed number of hours from the “prime meridian” in Greenwich, England. Standard time was adopted globally in 1884.
Fleming also designed Canada’s first postage stamp, known as the “three-pence beaver”, in 1851 at the age of 24.
Knighted by Queen Victoria in 1897, Fleming was a leader in the proposal of a trans-Canada telegraph and an underwater cable that later resulted in an underwater telegraph connecting Vancouver Island to New Zealand and Australia in 1902.
He became the Chancellor of Queen’s in 1880 under the helm of Principal George Monro Grant, who was once the minister of Fleming’s church in Halifax and had accompanied him on a cross-country survey expedition to choose a route for the Canadian Pacific Railway. As Chancellor, he was instrumental in shifting the school from a Presbyterian institution to a secular university with science and engineering programs.
He remained Chancellor until his death at age 88 in 1915.