VIEW-3425.1 | Town Hall clock, Halifax, NS, 1901

Town Hall clock, Halifax, NS, 1901
Wm. Notman & Son
1901, 20th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on paper - Albumen process
18 x 23 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Architecture (8646) , civic (349) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

What most people remember about Sandford Fleming is not his railway work, or his design of the first Canadian postage stamp. His international reputation rests on his role in securing the adoption of the idea of "standard time". Before the railway era, most cities and towns observed "sun time," where noon occurred when the sun was directly overhead. The difference was one minute for each eighteen km of east-west separation, which meant that when it was noon in Toronto, it was 12:15 in Kingston and 12:30 in Montreal. This made little difference in the early days, when travel was slow, but it was very confusing when railroads made travel faster. The trains, of course, had to run at a fixed time, which meant that train time was different from local time, throwing travellers into confusion. Sandford Fleming's advocacy of standard time led to its adoption in 1883. By 1901, when this photograph was taken, this Halifax clock would be showing the same time as the clocks all over the Atlantic time zone.

  • What

    The "Old Town Clock" was a gift to the garrison of Halifax from Prince Edward, Duke of Kent.

  • Where

    The clock mechanism was manufactured in London by the house of Vulliamy, noted clockmakers to royalty.

  • When

    The turret clock began keeping time for Halifax on October 20, 1803.

  • Who

    In its early years, the Town Clock was used as a guard room and as the caretaker's residence.