Canadians will get an extra hour of sleep this weekend thanks to the seasonal end to daylight time rolling back the clock an hour.
On Sunday, Nov. 7, clocks should automatically or manually be adjusted to go back an hour at 2 a.m. in most time zones across Canada. However, Yukon, most of Saskatchewan and some parts of British Columbia and Quebec stay on standard time.
The changing of the clocks has become a controversial topic over the years with provincial politicians in B.C. and Ontario wanting to do away with the century-old practice. Ontario tabled and unanimously passed a private members bill called the “The Time Amendment Act,” in 2020. The B.C. legislature passed similar legislation in 2019, but the process has been delayed due to American states in the same time zone not having yet followed suit.
Why did daylight time start?
In the 19th century, it was New Zealand entomologist George Hudson who first proposed the adoption of modern daylight saving time in 1895. Hudson proposed the change to allow him to spend more hours inspecting and finding insects while it was still bright out.
The accreditation around daylight saving time can be murky, as some even say Benjamin Franklin was the originator after writing a satirical letter in 1784. The idea really began to get popular shortly after Hudson’s proposal and British activist, William Willett wanted more sunlight so he could enjoy the sunshine during summer.
Where was daylight time first adopted?
The earliest municipalities anywhere in the world to have documented their adoption of daylight saving time were the small towns of Port Arthur and Fort William in Ontario on May 1, 1908. The two towns eventually merged to become what is now known as Thunder Bay.
At the time, a resident of Port Arthur, John Hewitson wanted the change to gain an extra hour of daylight for working people to have some more leisure time in the evenings. Hewitson’s suggestion was eventually voted on and adopted, with communities like Orillia, Ont., also soon adopting the practice.
Internationally, the German Empire and Austria-Hungary were the first countries that enacted daylight saving time in 1916 during the First World War to save coal and fuel.
The future of daylight time
Ontario MPP Jeremy Roberts, who proposed the daylight saving bill, said he’s made some good headway in speaking to Quebec and New York to move ahead with removing daylight time.
In an interview with Global News on Nov. 3, Roberts said part of the reason to get the neighbouring state and province on board is that the federal government operates in both Quebec and Ontario, with Ottawa-Gatineau being home to tens of thousands of public service employees. Moreover, Roberts suggested that not having the same timing with New York could impact businesses, so it’s best to have alignment in the region. Roberts told Global News that there have been “promising signs,” and he’s reached out to Quebec Premier François Legault and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul regarding their desires to stop adjusting the clocks.
Legault has publicly backed and stated he is open to removing daylight saving time, and in New York, a state senator has pushed ahead similar legislation to Ontario.
The idea behind the clock shift is to maximize sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere, as days start to lengthen in the spring and then wane in the fall. The logic is that by springing forward and falling back, people add an hour of sunlight to the end of the workday. But the benefits of this change are controversial, and the shift can have measurable impacts on health.
Whether in Eastern Canada or Western, turning back the clocks may not continue for long. The only time clocks might be switched in the future is when Bell does it for Canadians.
–With files from Jess Patton