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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit

The Irreplaceable Sandford Fleming

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Sir Sanford FlemingBy the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird


  A while ago, I dropped over to my friend Keith Cameron who had inspired the ‘Captain Robert Dollar’ article. Keith was so pleased by the Deep Cove Crier article that he gave me another tip: “Write about Sir Sandford Fleming, a Scottish Canadian. Fleming was a thinking renaissance man, organizing time for the world.  Fleming was a man’s man, bold and adventurous”


When I ask many people about Sandford Fleming, they are tempted to confuse him with Alexander Fleming who discovered penicillin. At age 17, Sandford Fleming emigrated to Canada from his hometown Kirkaldy in Scotland.


Sandford Fleming’s remarkable discovery was time, Standard Meridian Time.  In the 19th Century, there were 144 different time zones in North America. Every city was its own Greenwich, having its own personal time zone. As Clarke Blaise put it, “Every self-respecting town on the continent had a right to its own newspaper, its own baseball or cricket team, and its own individual time.”


Sandford Fleming served as the Chief Engineer and Surveyor for the Canadian Pacific Railway. He was an amazing visionary, first proposing a sea to sea railway in 1858, well before people would take him seriously. Several top Canadians told Fleming that since Canada already had sixteen miles of railway, there was no longer a need for engineers!  He should just go back to Scotland.  A few years later, Fleming became the sole engineer to oversee the survey for the Intercolonial Railway linking the Maritimes to Quebec. As an engineer, Fleming loved anything to do with engines and railways. .


Railway engines brought unimaginable new speed to the vast land of Canada.  They also brought new disasters when locomotives crashed into each other because of different time clocks.  Sandford knew that it was time to figure out what time it really was.  Going to the UK to argue for standardized time, he was snubbed and not even allowed to present his scheduled paper.  Jealousy between European nations for a long time paralyzed initiatives to make Greenwich Time the standard time around the world.  Sandford showed remarkable perseverance in bringing us the Standard Time that we now take for granted.  As Hugh MacLean put it, “Fleming never knew when he was licked.”


Sir Sandford Fleming bookSandford was there at the 1864 Charlottetown Conference which birthed the nation of Canada. He was there for the Last Spike at Craigellachie in November 7th 1885 when Canada was joined by rail from sea to sea.  Sandford Fleming has been called ‘the outstanding Canadian of the nineteenth century’.


Where would Canada be today without dedicated engineers like Fleming?  Engineers have built Canada from the ground up.  Clark Blaise comments: “The engineering profession, always a high calling – and often a source of profound despair – for Fleming, is the link between science and society.  The engineer calculates the cost of change, understands debentures and interest rates, the politically possible, the socially beneficial.  He reads the future.”  As a person of faith, Fleming saw the Engineering profession through the eyes of Isaiah 40 which talked about every valley being exalted: “It is one of the misfortunes of the profession to which I am proud to belong that our business is to make and not to enjoy; we no sooner make a rough place smooth than we must move to another and fresh field, leaving others to enjoy what we have accomplished.”


In 1872 Sandford and his good friend the Rev. George Grant led an expedition to BC in order to survey the future Canadian Pacific Railway. The travelogue they wrote about their adventures became a Canadian best-seller. Both Sandford and George shared a deep Christian faith that sustained them through many trials and tribulations. Wherever Sandford went, he always found time to worship on Sundays, even if it was simply kneeling by the railway tracks and giving thanks to Almighty God.  Sandford even wrote a simplified worship service that travellers and busy construction crews could use.


Sandford was always inventing.  He created Canada’s first postage stamp, the three-penny beaver.   In 1849, he founded the Royal Canadian Institute which became the Royal Society of Canada, a leading scientific institute. He wrote twelve books and served as Chancellor of Queen’s University for thirty-five years. Despite enormous opposition, Fleming built the world’s first sub-Pacific cable bringing instantaneous communication around much of the world. It was for this amazing feat that Queen Victoria knighted Fleming in 1897.


My prayer for those reading this article is that we too like Sir Sandford Fleming may be creative, persevering, and ground-breaking.


The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.


-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just etransfer at ed_hird@telus.net, giving your address. Cheques are also acceptable.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

To purchase any of our six books in paperback or ebook on Amazon, just click on this link.

Author: edhird

I was the Rector of St. Simon's Church North Vancouver, B.C for 31 years, from 1987 to 2018. Ordained in 1980, I have also served at St. Philip's Vancouver and St. Matthew's Abbotsford. My wife Janice and I have three sons James, Mark, and Andrew. I was Past President and Chaplain for Alpha Canada. While serving as the National Chair for Anglican Renewal Ministries of Canada, I was one of three co-signers of the Montreal Declaration of Anglican Essentials For the past 31 years, I have been privileged to write over 500 articles as a columnist on spiritual issues for local North Vancouver newspapers. In the last number of years, I have had the opportunity to speak at conferences and retreats in Honduras, Rwanda, Uganda, Washington State, BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, and Ontario. My book For Better, For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship, coauthored with Janice Hird, can be purchased at https://www.amazon.com/Better-Worse-Discovering-lasting-relationship/dp/0978202236/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1535555614&sr=8-1 My sequel Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit, with a foreword by Dr JI Packer, is online with Amazon.com in both paperback http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/097820221X/ref=redir_mdp_mobile and ebook form http://tiny.cc/tanhmx . In Canada, Amazon.ca has it available in paperback http://tiny.cc/dknhmx and ebook http://tiny.cc/wmhmmx . It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook). Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form. Nook gives a sample of the book to read online: http://tiny.cc/vj3bmx . Indigo also offers the Kobo ebook version: http://tiny.cc/kreonx . You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook: http://tiny.cc/1ukiox The book 'Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit' focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus' healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how North Americans can embrace a holistically healthy life. In order to obtain a signed copy in North America of the prequel book 'Battle for the Soul of Canada', Blue Sky, or God's Firestarters, please send a $25 etransfer to ed_hird@telus.net . Cheques are also acceptable.

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