“Au gré des saisons”; ‘Fixer le temps‘ (2006)
Europe Is Small And Crowded…
…so having a system of timekeeping where, if it was 6pm in Paris it was five minutes sooner in London, kind of made sense. Or at least it didn’t cause enough fuckups to be considered something which needed fixing. At least if you were European.
But European-style timekeeping, where everyone’s clock was set by the height of the sun at noon, was useless in a country like Canada, which is three times the size of Europe with a tenth the population. It was in 1878 when Sir Sandford Fleming, a Canadian engineer who was surveying the first Trans-Canada Railway, realised just how fucked “Euro-Style Local Time” would be when designing an engineering project that was 3200 miles long and twelve feet wide — picture a train travelling West to East and having to reset your watch every fifteen minutes for twelve days because every train station had a different Time Zone.
So Fleming had the idea to break the world into 24 one hour segments. And, of course, the world adopted the idea straight away and in no way was there any hysteria at the possibility of change. The End. Oh… wait, there were a lot of people who considered his idea to be “against God’s will”. There were some who even condemned Fleming as an “Internationalist” (re: commie) for even thinking aboot bringing the world together under a single measurement of time.
Most of these people were European and probably pictured North America as aboot the size of Denmark. But in 1884, at the International Prime Meridian Conference in Washington DC, the system of International Standard Time Zones was adopted and put into place a year later. So Fleming made it possible for FedEx and UPS to actually schedule deliveries without suffering brain aneurysms, because Globalization doesn’t happen without standard measurements and time zones.
In 1851 Fleming also designed Canada’s first adhesive postage stamp, the “Three Penny Beaver” (featuring a beaver, and costing three cents). He also fought for the construction of a transoceanic system of communication cables that eventually connected the entire British Empire. Fleming was made a knight in 1897 by Queen Victoria, and he served as chancellor of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario for 35 years.