Time Lord: The Remarkable Canadian who Missed His Train, and Changed the World

Front Cover
Knopf Canada, Apr 1, 2001 - Time - 256 pages
8 Reviews
This is the biography of an idea, and the remarkable story of the man who created--and then convinced the world to adopt--a unified standard for telling time.
Today we take the accurate telling of time across the world for granted. Yet little more than a hundred years ago, people even in neighbouring towns lived by different time schedules: noon was simply whenever the sun happened to be overhead--Toronto time, for example, was different from Hamilton time some forty miles away. None of this mattered when people travelled in the slow style that had been the norm for generations. But then, as Clark Blaise makes vividly clear, trains arrived--and in the new age of communications myriad local times became a mind-boggling obstacle, and the rational ordering of time an urgent priority.
Sandford Fleming, a young emigrant from Scotland, performed the remarkable task of solving the unfathomable temporal riddle of how to knit together a world stippled with thousands of local times. That invention was the start of an exhausting campaign to persuade the squabbling international powers, the diplomats and scientists, to adopt a unified time system--a campaign that came to a dramatic conclusion at the Prime Meridian Conference in 1884. His achievement turned out to be one of the greatest gifts of the Victorian Age to our global modern world.
This was the great "Decade of Time," as Blaise calls it, that extraordinary ten years that also saw the invention of electric light, the telephone, Impressionism and high-speed cameras. "Time Lord "is an absorbing reflection on the mythic origins of time itself, as well as a meditation on science, psychiatry, art and literature (from Dickens toSherlock Holmes to Hemingway); the roots of depression and anxiety; and the results of one man's fascination with clocks and watches and railway schedules. At the heart of the story is the mild but fierce-minded communications genius who sketched and surveyed his way from coast to coast, oversaw the building of the great Canadian railroad, designed the first Beaver stamp, and invented the world-circling, sub-Pacific cable; who saw the world as a whole and changed its nature forever.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - charlie68 - LibraryThing

A book about an invention that goes by unknown today, but we can't live without, and the one man, Sandford Fleming, who brought it about. More than just a history or a biography, it looks at how we perceive time. Read full review

Review: Time Lord : Sir Sandford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time

User Review  - G Macdonald - Goodreads

Starts out decently enough as a introduction to Sir Sandford Fleming and his efforts to have a universal time standard adopted worldwide but then the author goes off in all sorts of directions at once ... Read full review


The Discovery of Time
Time and Democracy
What Times Is It?

12 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2001)

Clark Blaise was born April 10, 1940 in Fargo, North Dakota. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa, and he was also the director of the International Writing Program. While living in Montreal in the early 1970s he joined with authors Raymond Fraser, Hugh Hood, John Metcalf and Ray Smith to form the celebrated Montreal Story Tellers Fiction Performance Group. In 2009, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada "for his contributions to Canadian letters as an author, essayist, teacher, and founder of the post-graduate program in creative writing at Concordia University. His works include Southern Stories, Time Lord, Pittsburgh Stories, and Montreal Stories.

Bibliographic information