Daylight Saving Act of 1917

Daylight Saving Act of 1917

The Daylight Saving Act of 1917 was an enacted by the Dominion of Newfoundland to adopt daylight saving time (DST), thus making it one of the first jurisdictions in North America to do so, only a year after the United Kingdom on May 21, 1916. DST was not instituted in the United States until March 31, 1918.


While living in Paris in 1784, Benjamin Franklin wrote a satirical essay,[1] in which he suggested that Parisians get up earlier in the morning. Modern DST was first proposed by the New Zealand entomologist George Vernon Hudson in 1895.[2] William Willett, a London building contractor, independently invented DST and pitched it to the British Parliament in 1907. In that same year Willett spoke with John Anderson, who was on a business trip in Britain, and explained to him the benefits of adopting DST and its economic benefits. Germany and its allies were the first European countries to adopt DST in 1916, followed quickly by Great Britain and many other western European countries, all in an effort to save fuel during World War I.

Upon his return to Newfoundland, Anderson became a strong proponent of daylight saving time and three times introduced a bill to the Legislative Council for its adoption. The first two attempts, in 1909 and 1910, failed. In 1917, spurred on perhaps by the recent adoptions of DST in Europe, Anderson introduced a third bill which passed on June 17, 1917. The new law stated that at nine o'clock in the evening of the second Sunday in June clocks would be put ahead to ten o'clock and would not be turned back until the last Sunday in September. It is not clear exactly when clocks were put ahead in 1917, as the bill became law one week after DST was scheduled to take effect.[3] In St. John's DST was first applied on April 8, 1917 by virtue of a local ordinance.[4] DST in Newfoundland came to be known as "Anderson’s Time", at least in the years immediately following its adoption.

Other experiments

During World War II the clocks in Britain were placed ahead by two hours to allow work to be carried out before the nightly blackouts.[5] For no generally explained reason, an experiment in the two hour change took place in North America in the 1980s and Newfoundland and Labrador was its guinea pig. This experiment might have succeeded had the entire country or the entire continent adopted it but the myriad complaints of Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans (from northern Labradorean mothers trying to get their children to bed in the bright midsummer sun of 9 and 10pm to people wanting to watch TV at regular times but having their programs delayed a further hour) put the experiment to rest after a two year run. The regular one hour shift for DST was then reinstituted; the experiment is oft the source of humor.

It would seem that the continent of North America is collectively thinking about moving all its time zones forward an hour. The U.S. added three to four weeks to DST effective 2007, and Canada followed suit. Add the last few remaining months and North American time zones will all be one hour ahead of the sun. Just as the time zones of France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain have been pretty much since the end of WWII — and they all still go on DST as well. This means the sun rises to its height at around 2pm or later (especially in Western Spain) during the summer.

Daylight saving time remained a provincial jurisdiction after confederation in 1949 as it was for all provinces of Canada. In 1952 the timing was changed such that it began just after midnight of the last Sunday in April and ended at midnight of the last Sunday in September. In 1970 it was extended to the midnight of the last Sunday in October.

Although Canada passed its first Daylight Saving Act in 1918[6], Quebec didn't pass its Daylight Saving Act until 1924.[7] Although the zoneinfo database quotes Nova Scotia and Manitoba as having adopted daylight saving time in 1916 or 1917, references to legislation and dates thereof are scarce. The Nova Scotian government website cites only the Nova Scotian Time Definition Act of 1989 which is part of the Revised Statutes of that same year. No mention is made of which law of the past was repealed by it.[8]


  1. ^ Benjamin Franklin, writing anonymously (1784-04-26). "Aux auteurs du Journal" (in French). Journal de Paris (117). 
  2. ^ George Gibbs (2007-06-22). "Hudson, George Vernon 1867–1946". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Retrieved 2009-04-03. 
  3. ^ Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador, ISBN 0-9693422-1-7.
  4. ^ Doris Chase Doane, Time Changes in Canada and Mexico, 2nd edition, 1972.
  5. ^ British Summer Time: historical information / History of legal time in Britain - see paragraph three
  6. ^ Mention of 1988 Act repealing the 1918 act at Daylight Saving Act — 1918, c. 2
  7. ^ History of the legislation concerning official time in Quebec
  8. ^ Nova Scotian Time Definition Act of 1989, Chapter 469 of the revised statutes, 1989 can be found on the Nova Scotian government website at Time Definition Act

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