Daylight Savings Time (DST) is upon us once again. Approximately 40% of countries worldwide use it to make better use of daylight and to conserve energy.
Did you know that a small Canadian town experimented with seasonal clock changes as early as 1908? Port Arthur and Fort William (now Thunder Bay) were in the Central Time Zone. A local Port Arthur businessman, John Hewitson petitioned the town council to adjust the clocks to Eastern Time in the summer months so the local children and outdoorspeople could enjoy an extra hour of summer sun. The council agreed and the town turned its clocks ahead one hour from June to September. A year later, Fort William followed suit and the two towns “sprung ahead” on May 1, 1910.
Seven years later, The Daylight Saving Act of 1917 was enacted by the Dominion of Newfoundland to adopt DST; this made it one of the first jurisdictions in North America to do so.
A movement to introduce daylight saving time had been underway in England before WWI; it was encouraged by William Willett from 1907 in his pamphlet “The Waste of Daylight”.
However, Germany and Austria were the first countries to use DST in 1916. On April 30, 1916, at the height of World War I, clocks were set forward by 1 hour to start the world’s first countrywide DST period. Although that small town in Canada had already experimented with time changes, it was Germany’s implementation that began a trend that spread across Europe. Meant to be a short term measure, the purposes were to ease the hardships caused by wartime shortages of coal as well as those caused by air raid blackouts. Quickly, other countries started using Daylight Savings Time—the United Kingdom(May 21, 1916), France, Italy, Russia, and Australia.