Edhird's Blog

Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


1 Comment

The Irreplaceable Sandford Fleming

Sir Sanford FlemingBy the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

  Recently 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, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

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

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. 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 send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Sir Sandford Fleming: Inventor of Time

Sir Sanford Fleming1

By the Rev. Dr.  Ed Hird

When Sir Sanford Fleming first came to Canada, he was told “Go back to Scotland”.  The need for engineers was over. Some were convinced that we would only need sixteen miles of railway in Canada. Fortunately for us, Fleming loved a challenge.  He was passionate about railways, once driving a bear off the railway tracks with nothing but an umbrella and a loud cry.

Fleming has been described as the outstanding Canadian of the nineteenth century. Prime Minister John A Macdonald appointed him as chief surveyor and engineer of the Canadian Pacific Railway.  Fleming knew that he needed to see the route first-hand.  With the Rev George Grant, he canoed and portaged across Canada in 1872, creating a best-selling travelogue ‘Ocean to Ocean’.  The beauty and ruggedness of Canada’s wilderness spoke to the depths of his soul.

Our most recognizable Canadian photo is ‘The Last Spike’, celebrating the completion of our national railway on November 7th 1885.  Fleming, our most famous Canadian engineer, was right there at the centre of the photo.

To complete the Canadian Pacific Railway in just ten years was an astronomical task, but Fleming always made time for God in his busyness. Fleming only missed attending church twelve times in his entire life. Sometimes ‘church’ was simply kneeling by the Rocky mountain railway tracks and giving thanks. On all his surveying trips, no work and travel was done on Sunday if he could help it. He even wrote a worship service that his busy construction crews could use.

After the frustration of his missing an Irish train, Fleming went on to create Meridian Standard Time in 1878.  Standard Time replaced the dangerous chaos of 144 different North American time zones. Every city had its own Sir Sanford Fleming Stampunique time, none of which agreed with any other city.  Standard Time went a long way towards keeping locomotives from crashing into each other because of different clocks.

Fleming founded the Canadian Institute which grew into the Royal Society of Canada. He published a dozen books, served for thirty-five years as Chancellor of Queen’s University. Canada’s very first postage stamp: the three-cent beaver, was the creation of Fleming.  Fleming was knighted in 1897 by Queen Victoria for building the world-circling sub-Pacific cable. For the first time in history, the world could communicate instantaneously around the globe.  With membership in over seventy international societies, he was Canada’s preeminent voice on the world stage.  Everyone looked to Sir Sanford Fleming.

Fleming was often snubbed, sidelined, criticized but he never let the nay-sayers stop him from accomplishing his life-goals.  Fleming knew that God had put him here on earth to make a difference, to help raise up the nation of Canada from sea to sea.  Fleming’s strength came from a deep sense that God would never abandon his children.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-previously published in the North Shore News

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

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. 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 send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide