November 1, 2014
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The world is divided into 24 time zones and Canada sprawls across 5½of those zones (more on that later). When the Canadian Pacific Railroad was being built, Sanford Fleming realized that the vastness of the country was going to be a problem. People still set their clocks by the time the sun stood directly overhead at noon, thus time varied from city to city. How then were people at any given location going to know when to expect the train? This led Fleming to the invention of Standard Time, with each time zone having the same time across the width of the zone.
That helped to establish a reliable schedule for the trains, and was useful for many other purposes. Then someone else came up with the idea of Daylight Saving Time, which makes as much sense to me as the unisex public washrooms that have been mandated in some jurisdictions to eliminate discrimination.
The line dividing the Mountain Time Zone from the Central Time Zone runs down the centre of Saskatchewan. When I was a boy, most of the province was officially on Mountain Standard Time and every town and city could make their own decision about adopting Daylight Saving Time. At home, my father told time by the sun, so he always knew when to come in for dinner. When we travelled, we were never quite sure what time it would be in the place where we were going.
Various solutions were attempted, none of which satisfied everyone. The solution which finally prevailed was for the whole province to adopt Central Standard Time year round. Which means that we don’t have to remember to turn our clocks back one hour tonight. Not everybody is satisfied, there will always be people who stir up controversy simply because they like a good argument. Most of us realize that any other solution would be divisive, and even have some pity for our neighbours who have to remember to re-set their clocks twice a year.
The time zones of Canada are Pacific, Mountain, Central, Eastern, Atlantic and Newfoundland. Newfoundland time is one half hour later than Atlantic. This is an eminently sensible solution, given their location, but has given rise to some Newfie jokes from people who have never lived there. As the map shows, time zone borders have been adjusted in various ways. Without looking it up, I believe that Indiana, Arizona and perhaps Hawaii also maintain the same time year round.