Right off the bat, let’s clear up the misconception that Sir Sandford Fleming is responsible for this mess. Sir Sandford brought us Standard Time and I think we all agree that this was a pretty good idea. Little known fact – he came up with the idea after missing a train!
The culprit here is William Willett who first came up with the stupid idea in 1907. Some say it was Benjamin Franklin but he only suggested it as a joke.
Using his own financial resources, in 1907 William published a pamphlet "The Waste of Daylight" In it he proposed that the clocks should be advanced by 80 minutes in the summer. The evenings would then remain light for longer, increasing daylight recreation time and also saving ₤2.5 million in lighting costs. He suggested that the clocks should be advanced by 20 minutes at a time at 2 am on successive Sundays in April and be retarded by the same amount on Sundays in September.
I guess it’s a good thing that the 80 minute thing didn’t catch on. We all got used to it up until a couple of years ago when the US (thanks Bush Jr.) decided to switch to DST earlier and switch back later. Of course Canada wagged its tail and followed suit.
Supposedly, DST was adopted to help farmers and others who depend on daylight to perform their work but arguments covering everything from the fact that more french fries are sold during the day (helping the Idaho potato farmers) to more daylight = more time for outdoor sports (Sporting Goods Manufacturing Coalition) have been used to support a practice that, in my opinion, is no longer necessary.
This diagram shows what areas of the world use, or do not use, DST. In Canada, Saskatchewan never changes the clock. Last time I looked Saskatchewan has a lot of farmers so there goes that argument.
So we spend the next few days in a sleep deprived state as our body clocks reset and I have to remember that Switzerland is only 5 hours ahead instead of 6 (most of the civilized world doesn’t change for another couple of weeks).
(images from Wikipedia)