Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
April 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Daylight Saving in Canada


[This text was published in 1948; for the full citation, see the end of the document.]

Daylight Saving, the name given to the practice of advancing of the clock by one hour ahead of standard time, during the summer months, in order to make it possible for people to make use of the extra hour of light so provided at the end of the working day. This practice has prevailed in several cities in Canada, in the United States, and in various European countries for some years, and agitation to make daylight-saving a federal institution in Canada was brought to a head in 1918, when active discussion on the subject took place in the Canadian legislature and the Daylight Saving Act was introduced. It was strongly opposed by the farmers, whose work began at sunrise and to whom an earlier hour of rising, to darkness and dew on the ground, meant practically an hour lost; furthermore, the habits of their cattle could not be as easily re-adjusted as the city-dweller's time-clock. The young people and workingmen who gained an extra hour of daylight in which to indulge in outdoor pursuits were very much in favour of the bill, as were the employers who benefited by the longer morning hours when the best work was usually accomplished. The working women and the mothers at home who could not put their children to bed at the regular hour owing to the light, had another hour of care added to their already long day, and were doubtful of the benefits of "summer time". The bill, however, under the sponsorship of Sir George Foster, finally was passed, and daylight saving became law throughout the Dominion.


The following year, when the Act came up for renewal, the debate became more than heated, with the agricultural elements strongly opposed to the continuance of the "new" time. There were many points of argument both for and against it. The United States law was being continued, and confusion was bound to arise, particularly in the railway time-tables and in the border cities; savings in gas, coal and electricity bills were claimed; the health of the nation was held to be at stake. Nevertheless, there was no doubt that the farmers and the dairying industry had suffered the previous summer. Finally, the bill was dropped; and by way of compromise, it was left to the municipal councils to vote on the issue in their own interests. Most of the cities gradually adopted the practice, and the country towns and villages, which would not benefit by the change, remained on standard time. The railways finally solved their problem by remaining on standard time, throughout, with occasional adjustments in their schedules to suit the public interest.


With slight variations, the usual period involving daylight saving time begins at midnight on the Saturday nearest May 1, and ends on the Saturday night nearest October 1.

Source: W. Stewart Wallace, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. II, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 411p., pp. 187-188.

© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College