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Daylight Saving Time: The most important day(s) of the year?


Sonya Bell
Special to The Weather Network

Monday, October 24, 2016, 8:00 AM - No matter how soft the hoodie or how spicy the pumpkin latte, nothing can quite redeem autumn from the cruel invention of some 100 years ago. The fall time change is coming, Canada, and it’s going to mess with our sleep.

Every November, just when we’ve finally adjusted to Daylight Saving Time, we’re ordered to end it all and switch the clocks right back to where they stood before. The 6 a.m. local time that turned to 7 a.m. is called 6 a.m. local time once again. Make up your mind, calendar!


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It may only be a difference of one hour, but it takes up far more time than that. The warnings begin weeks in advance: Did you know the clocks go back this weekend? Don’t forget to turn back your clocks. Did you remember the one in your car? Forget your mother’s birthday, the most important day of the year to get right is when we spring ahead and when we fall back.

Around 70 countries practice this back and forth time wizardry, but it seems especially cruel in Canada. We live so far north that we really should be hibernating after October, as cozy and unshaven as a dozy bear. Instead, our phones tell us it’s an hour later – even if our inner clocks, children, and pets disagree.

Quick facts:

• On Sunday, Nov. 6, the clocks fall back at 2 a.m., ending Daylight Saving Time (DST) until Sunday, March 12, 2017.
• Around 70 countries practice the annual time change
• The annual time change is not observed in Saskatchewan
• Under the Canadian Constitution, laws related to timekeeping are a provincial matter

Canadians' passion for sleep is well documented. One of our better-known indie bands is called Wintersleep. Even artists who didn’t name themselves after our favourite pastime still sing about it – Rural Alberta Advantage with Sleep All Day; Sloan with I Can’t Sleep and Sam Roberts with No Sleep. Tegan and Sara have a song that may well be directly inspired by the time shifting national nightmare: Wake Up Exhausted. Sleep is the stuff of Margaret Atwood poetry. It’s behind our favourite radio jingle, Sleep Country Canada.

When Sidney Crosby won his first Stanley Cup in 2009, he did all the regular stuff – hoisting it over his head, bringing it back to his hometown – and then he was photographed sleeping next to it. That’s our boy.

It’s hard to say what drives Canadians’ sleep obsession. Maybe it’s because so much sleepwear comes in plaid. We’re basically ready for bed all day long. Even in the winter, when you pull on a Canada Goose jacket, face it: you’re dressed in a fancy sleeping bag.

This passion for sleeping does not mean Canadians are lazy. Far from it. We have a lot of energy – we just devote it to getting a good night’s rest. How else are you going to live up to your reputation as a friendly country?

Not everyone is as dedicated to sleep as Canadians. New York seems to pride itself on being "the city that never sleeps." No one has ever said that about Toronto or Vancouver. Ottawa has never actually woken up.

And fair enough! Riddle me this: if Canadians aren’t supposed to sleep 15 hours a day, why does it get dark at 4 p.m. half the year? If it’s too early to mix a Caesar, it’s too early to be up at all.

It was a Canadian, Sir Sanford Fleming, who proposed worldwide standard time in 1879. And yet every year, we abandon it for six months. To add insult to injury, we abandon it for a practice promoted by Chris Martin’s great-great grandfather. The Coldplay singer is the descendant of William Willett, a golf enthusiast turned Daylight Saving Time crusader who wanted to squeeze in an extra hour of golf in the summer.


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Let the record show that if you spent that extra hour sleeping, you could dream about golf, and have a much better shot at a hole-in-one.

It’s one of the great frustrations in Canadian life that the holidays we love – Thanksgiving, Halloween, New Year’s Eve – only come once a year, and holidays like National Bring Your Puppy To Work Day don’t even exist, while the time change comes twice a year. Not even Celine Dion's Sleep Tight or Sarah Harmer’s Go To Sleep can right this wrong.

But there is an answer to the problem, and it lies in the heart of our country: Saskatchewan. While the rest of us are endlessly adjusting our oven clocks, the good people of the Prairies are sleeping easy. They don’t bow to peer pressure. They look Daylight Saving Time straight in the eye and say: nope. Keep your hands off our sleep.

So this November, when you can’t remember if you’re supposed to spring back or fall ahead, know this: Saskatchewan is watching with a wry grin, like Jennifer Aniston reflecting on the Brangelina news.

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