This weekend, we will be setting our clocks back one hour in accordance with Daylight Saving Time (DST). But where did this idea originate?
While Germany and Austria were the first countries to use DST in 1916, it is a little-known fact that a few hundred Canadians beat the German Empire by eight years. On July 1, 1908, the residents of Port Arthur, Ontario—today's Thunder Bay—turned their clocks forward by one hour to start the world's first DST period.
Many sources credit Benjamin Franklin for being the first to suggest seasonal time change. However, the idea voiced by the American inventor and politician in 1784 can hardly be described as fundamental for the development of modern DST. After all, it did not even involve turning the clocks. In a letter to the editor of the Journal of Paris, entitled “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light,” Franklin simply suggested that Parisians could economize candle usage by getting people out of bed earlier in the morning. What's more: Franklin meant it as a joke.
Daylight Saving Time is now used in over 70 countries worldwide and affects over one billion people every year.