This day in history, 1939: The benefits of daylight saving time are hotly debated

A civic plebiscite on the issue in Vancouver ended almost tied

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In May 1939, Vancouverites were still suffering from the economic problems of the Great Depression and World War II loomed.

But the biggest issue in Vancouver was whether to adopt daylight saving time.

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On May 1, the city council voted to hold a plebiscite on the issue and took off the gloves.

Supporters of daylight saving time touted the health benefits of people being able to enjoy an extra hour of daylight at night.

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In an article published in the May 9 Province newspaper, Dr. DEH Cleveland of the British Columbia Medical Association stated that “on the one hand we simply have the idea of ​​improving the health of workers, that is, the majority of us, and on the other, a purely selfish commercial argument.”

Walter Carson of jewelry store Henry Birks & Son “noted that daylight saving time would mean greater enjoyment of the outdoors by retail employees and would boost their morale.”

But Percy R. Bengouch of the Vancouver Labor and Business Council rejected daylight saving time, saying “the only feasible method (to improve the lives of workers) is to shorten working hours.”

R. Hardy, of 4550 East Hastings, said: “If these would-be reformers are sincere, let them attack the cause of most of our nervous disorders. “Close all places of entertainment one hour early and inaugurate a seven-hour (work) day.”

“Young people of this age need more sleep and less jazz to ensure health for posterity. “Jobs, food, housing, clothing, health insurance and social security are what people need, not daylight saving time.”

Vancouver’s left-wing mayor Lyle Telford generally agreed with the unions, but was strongly in favor of daylight saving time.

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In a radio address, he declared that “an extra hour of daylight during June, July and August would be ‘the next best thing’ after a six-hour workday to get people out in the sun.”

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Advertisement against daylight saving time published on May 8, 1939 in the province of Vancouver. sun

But Ms TV Clarke, of the Parents and Teachers Federation, argued during an earlier experiment with daylight saving time that it was a problem getting children to go to bed at their usual time.

“It was tremendously difficult to get them to calm down while it was still daylight and other children were still on the streets,” he said.

“The result was loss of sleep. “I am convinced, from my own experience, that daylight saving time is a threat to children’s health.”

Labor leader Birt Showler of the Teamsters pointed out the impracticality of Vancouver applying only daylight saving time.

“With New Westminster on standard time, drivers would leave Vancouver at 8 a.m. and arrive in New Westminster at 7:30 a.m., half an hour before Royal City is ready to receive their loads,” he told the Sun on the 5th. of May.

The anti-daylight forces seem to have had more money and much more attractive advertisements.

“Vote against daylight saving time,” read one of several clock-shaped ads. “Don’t touch the clock. … Organized labor and every mother in Vancouver knows that daylight saving time is slavery.”

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The vote was on May 10 and was almost tied: 12,660 in favor of daylight saving time, 12,652 against. The winning majority was just eight votes and there was a shortage of ballots at the polling stations, meaning that 400 people showed up and were unable to vote.

Another plebiscite was ordered for December 13 and daylight saving time was roundly rejected, by 15,360 votes to 12,255.

But the federal government introduced daylight saving time on July 6, 1941, arguing that it would save electricity during World War II. The feds let it expire at the end of the war, and the city stepped in to maintain daylight saving time in 1946.

The city held another daytime plebiscite on March 5, 1947 and the masses voted 18,417 to 8,568 in favor.

Three weeks later, the provincial government announced that it would adopt daylight saving time throughout British Columbia on April 27, 1947, and it is still in effect.

Daylight saving time was first tried in British Columbia in 1918, when the federal government imposed it during the First World War. There were several plebiscites on the issue: the opposing side won in 1921, the pro side won in 1922, and the antis won in 1923, 1928, and 1932.

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Advertisement against daylight saving time published on May 9, 1939 in the province of Vancouver. sun
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There were several plebiscites during the day in Vancouver and British Columbia. Many businesses supported him, including Woodward Department Store. This advertisement is from the Vancouver Sun of January 12, 1922. sun
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The complete announcement in favor of daytime published on May 9, 1939 in the province of Vancouver. sun

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