Clocks move forward by an hour tonight as we begin eight months of daylight saving time. By the way, it’s “daylight saving time,” not “daylight savings time.” Since the word “saving” acts as part of an adjective rather than a verb, the singular is grammatically correct.
Many people think Benjamin Franklin first proposed daylight saving time but actually he only proposed it in jest. After being unpleasantly stirred from sleep at 6 a.m. by the summer sun, the Franklin, who was US ambassador to France at the time, penned a satirical essay in which he calculated that Parisians, simply by waking up at dawn, could save the modern-day equivalent of $200 million through “the economy of using sunshine instead of candles.”
It was an Englishman, William Willett, who led the first campaign to implement daylight saving time. While on an early-morning horseback ride around the desolate outskirts of London in 1905, Willett had an epiphany that the United Kingdom should move its clocks forward by 80 minutes between April and October so that more people could enjoy the plentiful sunlight. The Englishman published the 1907 brochure “The Waste of Daylight” and spent much of his personal fortune evangelizing with missionary zeal for the adoption of “summer time.” Year after year, however, the British Parliament stymied the measure, and Willett died in 1915 at age 58 without ever seeing his idea come to fruition.
World War I
It took World War I for Willett’s dream to come true, but on April 30, 1916, Germany embraced daylight saving time to conserve electricity. Weeks later, the United Kingdom followed suit and introduced “summer time.”
Contrary to popular belief, American farmers did not lobby for daylight saving to have more time to work in the fields; in fact, the agriculture industry was deeply opposed to the time switch when it was first implemented on March 31, 1918, as a wartime measure. The sun, not the clock, dictated farmers’ schedules, so daylight saving was very disruptive. Farmers had to wait an extra hour for dew to evaporate to harvest hay, hired hands worked less since they still left at the same time for dinner and cows weren’t ready to be milked an hour earlier to meet shipping schedules.
Daylight saving advocates have touted energy conservation as an economic benefit. A U.S. Department of Transportation study in the 1970s concluded that total electricity savings associated with daylight saving time amounted to about 1 percent in the spring and fall months. As air conditioning has become more widespread, however, more recent studies have found that cost savings on lighting are more than offset by greater cooling expenses.
DST in Canada
Port Arthur, Ontario was the first Canadian City to adopt DST.in 1908. Hamilton was one of five other Canadian cities to adopt daylight saving time in 1916. The measure in Hamilton was widely supported by the Board of Trade and the city’s industries.
Currently the choice to implement daylight saving time is a provincial matter. Saskatchewan stays on the same time year-round. At one time DST was left up to individual municipalities. In Kent county in Southwestern Ontario, the Township of Dover remained on Standard time while adjacent Chatham went on daylight saving time. The result was that the drinking establishments in Franco-Ontarian villages like Paincourt and Grande Point remained open an hour later, resulting in a late-night cavalcade of cars heading out of Chatham.