The Never-Ending Debate on Daylight Savings


Is it necessary or a waste of time?

Canadians are pretty much responsible for Daylight Savings Time (DST) becoming a thing. Well, only sort of. Though ancient civilizations had been using some kind of DST in an unorganized fashion, it wasn’t until New Zealand entomologist George Hudson that DST formed to its modern incarnation. The first official use of this modern DST was in Ontario (specifically, Port Arthur, which began using it in 1908). We are responsible for starting the trend of DST in various countries around the world. Depending on who you talk to, this is either something to be proud of or something to loathe.

March 10 was the fateful day, it was one in the morning and I was trying desperately to sleep despite my slight insomnia. I blinked and realized something painful: it’s Daylight Savings. It’s not 1am anymore. It’s super disheartening in the moment, losing an entire hour like that. After finally falling asleep and experiencing that first sweet 6pm daylight, it turns out I’m grateful for that hour I lost. I’m the kind of person that loves afternoons; the time between 5pm and 7:30pm is my favourite time of the day, but only thanks to DST. In the winter months, it’s an entirely different story. I don’t think I’m alone in hating how early it gets dark.

Hilariously, everyone is unanimously happy when we gain an hour in November, despite it’s now going to be darker that much earlier. Another hour to get things done, or so we say. Overall, it seems as though our feelings on DST are mixed. When it ends in November, we are all happy to gain an hour of sleep but hate how early the sun goes down. But when DST begins in March, we’re dreading the time change but thankful that supper time comes with a sunset.

Most Canadians are used to Daylight Savings. A minor inconvenience that we’re all more than accustomed to, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a unanimously agreed upon ‘good thing.’ Let’s look outside our bubble for a moment. There are actually a few parts of Canada that don’t even observe DST, such as most of Saskatchewan. Beyond that, DST is mainly observed in Europe and certain South American countries, such as Chile. Australia is inconsistent with only certain parts recognizing it. Growing up with DST my entire life, this came as a shock to me when I first heard it. It’s kind of annoying, sure, but it never impacted my life to the point that I thought about how many countries had it. In the age of having access to the internet pretty much all the time, it’s easier than ever to educate yourself on the pros and cons of observing DST, as well as read many, many opinions regarding the tradition. To save, or not to save? That is the question. It appears the European Union is already considering letting go of the practice. Let summer time be the only time.

Honestly, one of the first things that come to my mind whenever someone mentions the Daylight Savings debate is a ten-year-old internet meme known as “My cousin Oskaar”. Maybe this just makes me sound dated, but the viral YouTube video has never left my brain since I first saw it all those years ago. It goes like this – a guy from Australia gets a video message from his cousin Oskaar from Iceland, who proceeds to rant about how hilarious the DST argument is to him. “You know I get three hours of sunlight per day! And you guys are arguing about losing one”, Oskaar yells to the camera surrounded by the pitch black 3pm Reykjavik sky. The video has amassed over 3 million views since it was posted on YouTube in March of 2009, and it’s hilarious how the video is still relevant today. We’re all still arguing over DST, wondering if losing or gaining one hour is worth all the trouble in the end. 

There are plenty of arguments that have been made over how losing an hour impacts people mentally and forces them to become more unprepared. No matter how many arguments I see about abolishing the practice, though, I just think back to how happy I am when it doesn’t get dark after my class ends at 5pm.

Then again, isn’t the obvious solution to stay on summer time all year round? That way, we get longer afternoons. So what if the morning is dark longer? I’m usually asleep for most of the morning anyways, if I’m being honest.

Since most countries don’t observe it, and there is such a huge debate over whether or not to keep it around, I’m going to have to choose to let it go but only if we’re on summer time, even in those harsh Canadian winters.