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Visionary: A Tribute to Sir Sandford Fleming

Number on Map



Richard Shanks


Steel, Bronze

Installation Date

January 1, 2002

The sculpture “Visionary” commemorates the life of Sir Sandford Fleming and his contributions to Canada and the world. Born in 1827 in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, Sandford Fleming arrived in this region, travelling by way of Quebec City and Montreal to Kingston, and continuing by boat to what he described as " a nice healthy little town", Cobourg. The 18-year-old Sandford and his older brother, David, arrived in Peterborough by horse-drawn cart on June 17 1845, where Sandford made his home with Dr. and Mrs. John Hutchison. Sandford Fleming contributed much to this area. His drawings and maps accurately depict the Peterborough area as it was in the mid-1800s, and his copious diaries provide enlightening detail. In turn, the Peterborough community enriched his life - his wife Jeannie Hall, whom he married in 1855, was a Peterborough native, and the daughter of Peterborough's sheriff. Fleming was always searching for broader horizons and greater challenges. His keen intelligence and scientific and artistic ability involved him in many significant accomplishments that included the establishment of Universal Standard Time, which he recommended to the Royal Canadian Institute in 1879, and which was adopted universally in 1884, the design of a prototype of an in-line skate, which he tested and pronounced "altogether satisfactory", at the age of 21, the foundation of the Royal Canadian Institute in Toronto in 1849, the design of Canada's first adhesive postage stamp, the Threepenny Beaver, in 1851, appointment as Chief Engineer of the Northern Railway in 1855, the proposal for a coast to coast railway line spanning "British North America" in 1858, and advocacy of a submarine cable which would link all the nations of the British Empire by telegraph. Pacific Cable was finally completed in 1902. In 1968 the new Community College in Peterborough was named after Sir Sandford Fleming. This sculpture includes the elements of a surveyor’s transit, the compass, time, significant dates in Fleming’s life and the globe.

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