Prior to the development of Standard Time, the time was established by designating noon as when the sun was directly overhead. This meant that noon in Toronto occurred after noon in Montreal. As people began to travel greater distances the time changes became more significant. The railways devised their own time zones, but the different railways had different systems.
In 1878, Sanford Fleming wrote papers for the Canadian Institute for the Advancement of Scientific Knowledge proposing a prime meridian from which all time be measured. The world was divided into 24 zones and each time zone was 1 hour different than the next time zone. Many people did not like the change so for years it was dismissed by governments and rejected by scientists. Fleming was persuasive in promoting Standard Time and finally he was given approval. Standard Time went into effect on January 1, 1885. Within five years all railways in North America had adopted this system.
This was a tremendous assistance to everybody, particularly business. Businesses and individuals now knew exactly what time it was across the country.