The debate over creation and evolution


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Some years ago I wrote four articles on evolution and religion for US writing site Helium now gone. Here’s the second one (link to first one at bottom) …

The debate over creation and evolution has been going on for more than 2,000 years. Creationists have held sway for most of that time. Indeed, it wasn’t always good for one’s health to have a different viewpoint. Evolutionists, hiding in the closet for centuries, suddenly got a boost in the mid 19th century with the work of Charles Darwin. But creationists were having none of that, and initiated a resurgence in creationism around the 1920s. Today, the debate rages, especially in the United States, and I hope I can make some small contribution to it.

We should remember that when the creation story was written, the earth was thought to be flat and at the centre of the universe, with other components being just a few lights in the sky. Scholars and ordinary people wanted answers, even back then. When the Old Testament was written, nothing was known of evolution, and creation seemed like a logical explanation of how we got here. We now know how huge the universe is, and that our planet, solar system and galaxy are just an infinitesimal part of it. The creation of trillions of stars, maybe half of them with their own planets and moons, would perhaps be beyond any god. And if there is a creator, who or what created him, her, or it? And who or what created the thing that created the creator? And who or what created the thing that created the thing that created the creator?

Integral to creation is the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. We don’t know its location, with various hypotheses having been put forward over the years. Even some theologians feel it never existed on earth but was an adjunct to heaven. Some scholars regard Adam and Eve as metaphorical, a story made up by early leaders to teach people about truth, sin, and so on.

Also relevant to creation is the story of Noah’s Ark and the flood. The ark has never been found despite its location being reasonably well identified in Genesis. Given the creation model doesn’t allow macroevolution, the number of species that turned up at the ark at the time of the flood would have to be at least the number today that would be in need of saving from such an event. The number of species has been estimated at anything from 2 to 100 million. Allowing for sea dwellers, insects and any others that allegedly didn’t need saving, that’s still a lot of animals, especially when a pair (or was it seven pairs?) of each animal went onto the boat. It might have been millions. Even using the biblical “kinds” (baraminology is regarded as a pseudoscience like other creation sciences), this would still be a very large number of animals. On this basis, estimates range from 2,000 to 35,000 animals.

The alleged boat was an unlikely 450 feet in length, the size of a modern ship. Theoretically, it would have been large enough to accommodate many thousands of animals. However, it is far larger than other ancient boats. How did Noah acquire the skills to build such a huge vessel, one that would have been way too large for one man and his family to operate in any case? How would you get all these animals onto a boat? Old paintings have them, quite unrealistically, marching in an orderly fashion up a ramp, and onto a vessel far smaller than 450 feet. How would you round them up in the first place? What if the elephants, lions and other formidable beasts refused to cooperate? What about those native to Africa, the Americas and Australia – how would they be expected to find their way around the world to a boat that was allegedly going to save them? And how would you prevent the animals fighting and trying to eat one another as they stood in queue to board the boat?

Assuming all this is possible and did happen, let’s consider how much rain is required in 40 days to flood the earth to a level 20 feet above the highest mountain. Mount Everest is about five and a half miles above sea level. Coastal plains would be under this amount of water, and the seas and oceans would be this much deeper. Five and a half miles is 348,480 inches. This would require daily average rainfall of 8,712 inches for 40 days, or 363 inches an hour, or 6.05 inches a minute, worldwide. Rainfall intensity records are given as 73.62 inches in a day at Reunion Island in 1952, 15.78 inches in an hour at Shangdi, China in 1975, and 1.50 inches in one minute at Guadeloupe in 1970. Rain resulting in the biblical flood would have been four times the intensity of the heaviest rainfall ever recorded over one minute and this had to last 40 days across the whole planet. Noah’s family, the animals and the ark would have been obliterated by rain like sheets of concrete. Nothing would have survived the rain, let alone the flood. Apart from all this, the rain has to come from somewhere. You can’t have this much evaporation and condensation in a short period. Even subscribing to the biblical view that mountains were much lower at the time of the flood, for all the land to be covered with water would be physically impossible.

Can we necessarily believe what we read in the Bible about creation (or much else)? We don’t really know who wrote the Gospels or when. Numerous changes have been made to the Bible over time, especially in the early centuries. There was much bickering among early Christians as to what was scripture, and various christological issues were hotly debated. Many of the writings were chopped and changed amid followers accusing one another of corrupting text. Second century philosopher Celsus said that some of them “changed the original text of the gospels three or four times or even more, with the intention of thus being able to destroy the arguments of their critics”. Tatian’s Diatessaron was one of a number of works that aimed to rewrite the gospels as a narrative, fixing conflicting passages and eliminating duplication. In the third century, Christian scholar Origen admitted that “there is much diversity among the manuscripts, due either to the carelessness of the scribes, or to the perverse audacity of some people in correcting the text, or again to the fact that there are those who add or delete as they please, setting themselves up as correctors”. Many other early church leaders, such as Jerome and Augustine, were concerned about the extent of changes to biblical documents. Then there is the curious absence of Jesus’ birth and death dates (which of course are unknown) and of his life between infancy and the age of about 30. A lack of evidence for Jesus’ historicity in non-biblical sources (e.g. Josephus’ paragraph on Jesus turns out to be a later addition) brings doubt to the Bible’s story of Jesus, let alone the creation story.

When science was still recovering from something like 1,500 years of suppression at the hands of religious leaders, one Charles Darwin made a number of observations relating to fossils and the distribution of wildlife that led him to propose that life evolved from common ancestors, including humans. He coined the term “natural selection” to describe how animals passed on their traits from one generation to the next. His ground-breaking book, On the Origin of Species, published in 1859, shook the establishment to its core. But this wasn’t Darwin’s intention. Indeed, he had studied theology at Cambridge. He simply recorded what he saw and aimed to draw logical conclusions from it.

Evolution soon became accepted by scientists and the general public. In the second half of the 19th century, few scientists or religious people had a problem with the earth being very old indeed. Few accepted the literal description of the flood and few felt it was geologically significant. By 1900, even the Catholic Church accepted that humans evolved from animals, but that humans’ souls were God’s domain. A return to fundamentalist Christianity occurred after World War I, at least in the US. The opposing views of creationists and evolutionists diverged ever wider after this, despite more and more evidence for evolution and its general acceptance by scientists, and little evidence for creation, or Christianity in general for that matter. Today, evolution is accepted by at least 95 per cent of biological and earth scientists, with one survey suggesting a figure as high as 99.8 per cent. Neither the Church of England nor the Catholic Church accepts a literal interpretation of Genesis. Evangelists and Protestants in the US appear to be the chief supporters of a literal view.

Creationists come up with all sorts of ways to try and discredit evolution. Let’s start with thermodynamics. Its second law says that entropy or disorder will always increase over time. Creationists jump on this as proof that evolution can’t happen as it requires an increase in order. But entropy only increases in closed systems and there are none of these in nature. An organism maintains its internal order as it takes from free energy sources such as nutrients and sunlight, returning the same quantity of energy to its environment in the form of heat and entropy. There is no reason for animal and plant life to deteriorate over a period of time. Individual species may deteriorate, and may become extinct, while other species will strengthen, depending on their environment and how well they adapt to it and to changes in it. With extra nutrition and sunlight, humans are taller and stronger than in the 19th century when many people struggled to find enough food and worked long hours in dingy factories. Our liking for junk food may see a weakening in the human species as it adversely affects our health and reduces our life expectancy.

Another favourite argument among creationists for evolution not being possible is an alleged lack of transitional forms or fossils. Christian websites often quote from works by scientists saying no transitional forms have been proven. But note that the references are always old, usually from the 1960s through to about 1980. Research into transitional forms is difficult, time consuming and costly, and virtually none was carried out before the mid 1970s, a major reason being the lack of commercial possibilities. An early researcher, Phillip Gingerich, took 10 years to document two lineages, completing this work in the late 1970s. In the last few decades, there has been a steady increase in this research and in findings from it. Numerous transitional forms have now been identified. For a list of some of these forms, see For a detailed discussion of transitional forms, with references to numerous books and journal articles on the subject, see Sure there are many missing links, and probably always will be.

The creationist model doesn’t allow for transitional forms, with every species regarded as separate and having no link to any other species. That’s all Genesis allows for, and thus there can’t be any grey areas under this model. It won’t matter what is found or how many gaps are closed, creationists will regard any two fossils as separate species with no links between them if they feel the difference is great enough. If the difference is small, then it’s regarded as the same species. In other words, the model allows microevolution but not macroevolution. However, the two terms describe the same process. Any division is arbitrary and, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, has no scientific basis.

If these fossils are less common than other forms of fossils, this might be because the evolutionary process is usually one of gradual change and a transitional form might not always show up. However, the equilibrium might be punctuated when a species experiences a sudden change in its environment, such as an ice age. At this time, many species might become extinct. Those that survive often have to adapt quickly to their new environment, and a transitional species might not be around for as long and therefore leave less evidence.

A quickening of the evolutionary process seems to have happened during the Cambrian explosion. Before this, there are few fossil records as the soft bodies of pre-Cambrian animals left few traces. Various causes of the explosion have been put forward, for example an increase in oxygen in the atmosphere, changes in ocean chemistry, gene development, climatic change or a large meteorite, or some or all of these to a varying extent. Whatever happened, it seems that conditions were right for a rapid increase in the evolutionary process. But 10 million years is still a long time, and considerable change would be possible in this timeframe if there are major changes in the overall environment.

Interestingly, fossil records don’t support creationism. As we’ve seen, the story of Noah’s Ark had all remaining animals at a single place at the same time. Yet, all around the world, there are fossils of numerous species that are only found in the vicinity of their current location. There are no trails of various American or Australian animals in Europe or Asia. How would a creature such as the slow, awkward, tree-dwelling koala travel from the Middle East to Australia and not leave behind a considerable trail of fossils over a long period? And how would it cross oceans and seas? The so-called land bridge between Asia and Australia thousands of years ago had at least one water channel. This could be negotiated by humans in canoes but not by koalas, which at any rate have been in Australia for millions of years.

The impossibility of virtually all aspects of the biblical flood story hasn’t stopped the likes of Tom Vail coming up with a non-fiction (sic) book, Grand Canyon: A Different View, and running canyon tours. The book is about the canyon being carved out by the flood, rather than erosion over millions of years. The American Geological Institute and other bodies want the book removed from national park shops. The idea that a single flood caused all geological strata was rejected as early as 1837 by Reverend William Buckland, professor of geology, Oxford University. The scientific community regards flood geology as pseudoscience. Through the principle of uniformitarianism, geologists have found that the earth has been shaped mainly by slow acting forces rather than one or more massive catastrophic events. Geochronology has determined that the earth is about 4.5 billion years old, rather than 6,000-10,000 years under creation. So speeding up the camera, if science says the earth has been here 24 hours, creation says it’s been here around 0.1 or 0.2 of a second. The ancients could not have envisaged an earth and a universe as old as what they actually are.

Unlike creationism and the Bible, evolution isn’t contradictory. Biochemistry backs it up, including DNA and protein sequences. The genetic code is nearly the same for all species. There are new fossils and more evidence all the time. The UK Natural Environment Research Council states: “It is almost certain that all life developed from the same single source, as all life discovered has the same complex molecule – DNA.” ( American professor of ecology and evolution Douglas Futuyma believes there are enough similarities in species to show that all species are related. This is generally accepted in biology.

Just a note on the use of the word “theory”: In scientific terms, a theory has to include evidence for it to be called a theory, for example Newton’s theory of gravitation, or the theory of evolution with its vast evidence base. However, in common usage, people tend to think of a theory as a hypothetical proposition that isn’t backed up by any evidence. People will often say: “In theory …; however, in practice …” about different issues. Creationists often criticize evolution as a theory, saying: “It’s only a theory”, knowing that many people will then think of evolution as something that some bunch of scientists dreamed up, perhaps to get under the skin of creationists (!), and that it doesn’t or can’t work in practice. The definition of “theory” from the US National Academy of Science is: “Theory: In science, a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses.” ( Scientists don’t spend their time and money and careers trying to stir up creationists. They wouldn’t be doing this work if they thought evolution was nonsense.

Those who accept evolution have done their research and have concluded that evolution makes more sense to them than creationism. They have found answers that, to them, they don’t get from religion and creationism. But there are gaps in evolution, and many people really must have answers to everything, without any gaps. These people become or remain Christians or belong to some other religion that supports creation as they feel this gives them all the answers. Creationism and Christianity will give these people an answer to everything they seek. This is one of the features of these things that attract people to them. It’s a pity that many of the answers, so often promoted as fact or truth, are actually void of evidence.

If you could find, and bring to earth, an intelligent alien who knew nothing about creation or evolution and explained both to him, her, or it, I think I know which one the alien would find more believable. My bet would be on evolution.

See also:

[I have discovered the above article of mine here,, posted by someone called Hailstone. I have emailed to try and get it removed. When it’s done, I’ll remove this endnote.]



Postwar daylight saving time confusion in Indiana, US


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This is another extract from my daylight saving time book, The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy. It looks at the situation in Indiana, United States, in part of the post-World War II period or from 1949 to 1961. The book is available at Amazon, Kobo, Apple and Google. …

Yet another state to forbid daylight saving was Indiana where Central Standard Time, or GMT–6, had been the law since 1949. That didn’t stop most municipalities putting their clocks forward each summer. A meeting of mayors, councillors and attorneys in Indianapolis in October 1954 voted to have permanent daylight saving or Eastern Standard Time, or GMT–5, and the idea quickly gained support. Many eastern and northern counties were already on Eastern time. By September, Indiana had a confusing mixture of Central and Eastern standard time and daylight saving time, with each community deciding its time zone and when to finish fast time.

A vote was held in November 1956 to determine if residents wanted Eastern or Central standard time and with or without daylight saving. Eastern Standard Time year round got the most votes (32 per cent), followed by Central Standard Time all year (31 per cent), Central time with daylight saving (24 per cent) and Eastern time with daylight saving (13 per cent).

But the state legislature passed a bill in April 1957 for the third most popular option, Central time with daylight saving, figuring that none of the options had anywhere near half the vote, that Central time had more support overall (55 per cent) than Eastern time (45 per cent), and that Central Daylight Time was the same as Eastern Standard Time. That way, the politicians perhaps hoped to keep most people and communities at least partly happy although this seemed unlikely as only 37 per cent of voters wanted daylight saving. Any government official who broke the law would be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 and jail for up to 60 days. Also, state funds could be withheld from municipalities that dared contravene the order.

Straightaway, councils looked for ways to circumvent the new law, such as operating an hour later in winter months. Indianapolis had been on EST since 1955, which is the same as Central Daylight Time, and didn’t have to change its clocks in the summer of 1957. In autumn, it shifted to CST. North-eastern and south-eastern communities unofficially stayed on EST through winter and did this each year. The following summer, the capital changed back to EST and remained in this time zone.

This pattern continued and by late 1960, only the north-west and south-west corners were going back to CST although the changeovers were at different times, while the majority of the state kept to EST. The boundary between CST and EST areas went through the middle of many counties and seemed subjective. In December, The Indianapolis Star Magazine commented on the chaos as follows:

… this state has huffed and puffed itself into a condition of horological horror, a phrenetic, incongruous mixture of such a simple thing as the time of day. … The time map of Indiana is a cartographer’s nightmare, sort of speckled all over like a purebred Dalmatian. It’s a confusing, tremendously expensive, intolerable situation that we haven’t been able to straighten out ourselves by compromise, treaty, referendum or legislative act.[1]

The state law demanding Central time with daylight saving was repealed in March 1961 and time was left to each community to sort out. Various bodies had been asking the Interstate Commerce Commission for some years to move the boundary between the Central and Eastern time zones to the west, which it did in June. After the shift, about half of Indiana, including the capital, was in the Eastern time zone although a considerably greater proportion of the state used this zone in practice and most or all of it kept on doing so.

[1] Joseph Shepard, “A time of confusion”, The Indianapolis Star Magazine, Indianapolis, Indiana, United States, 4 December 1960, p. 9, (subscription only), at

DST book cover

What is evolution?


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Some years ago I wrote four articles on evolution and religion for US writing site Helium now gone. Here’s the first one …

Evolutionary thought has been around since before the time of Jesus. In the 6th century BCE, Greek philosopher Anaximander speculated about the origin of life and he believed that animals originated from the sea. A succession of Greek, Roman, Arab and Persian philosophers put forward their ideas on evolution. Such ideas became more sophisticated in the 18th century as Pierre Maupertuis and Erasmus Darwin took advantage of the greater knowledge of biology by this time. Biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck wrote about the transmutation of species in 1809.

But it was Charles Darwin’s ground-breaking book, On the Origin of Species, in 1859 that shook the establishment to its core. He proposed that life evolved from common ancestors, including humans. He coined the term natural selection to describe how animals passed on their traits from one generation to the next. Evolution soon became accepted by scientists and the general public. Today, evolution is accepted by at least 95 per cent of biological and earth scientists, with one survey suggesting the figure is 99.8 per cent. However, a resurgence in creationist beliefs since about the 1920s has led to at least 40 per cent of people in the United States supporting creation, although the figure is generally thought to be lower in other countries.

Evolution refers to the changes in a population’s traits or characteristics between generations. These changes can be caused by genetic influences or by environmental factors or both. Inherited traits in any individual come from the parents’ genes, which are passed on to it automatically. Mutations, or changes, in genes can occur due to things like chemical agents, viruses or radiation and can result in altered traits in offspring. Migration is likely to speed this process up as genes from different groups are passed on to the next generation. Some mutations will decline in a population while other more favourable ones will increase by natural selection and may lead to evolutionary change. Favourable mutations are those that help a species to survive in its environment and to reproduce.

The other main factor in the evolutionary process is genetic drift. Under this principle, introduced in the 1920s by American geneticist Sewall Wright, random chance determines which gene variants will be passed from the current generation to its offspring. To see how this works, imagine a barrel with 10 blue balls and 10 brown balls. Look away and take a ball from the barrel. Put a ball of the same colour in a second barrel and return the ball you took from the first barrel to that barrel. Shake the barrel and pick a ball. Do this 20 times and see what combination you end up with in the second barrel. It could be 10 and 10, or 11 and 9, or some other combination although the chances of a particular combination decrease the further it is from 10 and 10. The second barrel will be the new generation. Repeat the first step and another different combination of balls will likely result. Keep repeating the process. Sometimes there will be more blue balls, and other times more brown balls. It’s possible that one of the colours will disappear altogether after a large number of generations. This is how genetic drift works.

Natural selection and genetic drift occur at the same time in any population. In a small population, genetic drift will dominate. However, in a larger population, natural selection will tend to overshadow drift, even when selection is weak. Try the above experiment with 50 blue and 50 brown balls and you will see that the relative effect of drift will be less than what it was with 10 blue and 10 brown balls.

How did life come from non-living matter in the first place nearly four billion years ago? I wish I knew. Whether scientists will eventually come up with a satisfactory explanation is hard to tell. It could have been the result of some sort of spontaneous chemical reaction or self-replicating molecules (e.g. ribonucleic acid, or RNA) or self-assembly of simple cells. Lots of things are possible in an open system. But understanding how evolution occurs, and the fact that it does occur, doesn’t depend on knowing how life started.

All organisms have a common ancestor or gene pool. The first organisms on earth go back 3-4 billion years. These were the prokaryotes, single cell bacteria and archaea that can live in inhospitable environments. The next step was eukaryotic cells which evolved from ancient bacteria. Various multi-cellular organisms developed independently in the oceans from around one billion years ago. Evolution accelerated during a 10 million year period known as the Cambrian explosion about 530 million years ago. Complex forms of animals developed at this time. Some 500 million years ago, plants appeared on the land. Animals such as certain arthropods soon followed. Other animals appeared later, such as amniotes from 340 million years ago, amphibians 300 million years ago, mammals 200 million years ago, and birds 100 million years ago. The evolutionary process is ongoing. What we see today is a collection of species at their current stage in the process. New species will form and others will become extinct.

Perhaps the best way to see what evolution is and how it occurs is by way of example. Let’s assume a particular species lives in a certain area and goes about its daily routine of survival: eating, sleeping and reproducing. If food becomes short due to over-populating or drought or some other reason, some of this group will have to move and find another home if all members are to survive. Let’s say a few hundred of the species move on and a few hundred stay put. The migratory group finds a new home that is a bit warmer and wetter, has more food, has fewer natural predators, and has trees that are easier to climb as the timber is softer. The environment of the sedentary group is somewhat the opposite, and actually continues to become drier. (For the purposes of the example, the new environment of the migratory group might be dry and the old environment wet. It doesn’t matter.)

What would happen to the two groups? Assuming they are a reasonably hardy, adaptable species and would survive, the two groups would gradually adapt more and more to their respective environments. Over time, the migratory group would probably breed faster, eat more, perhaps get larger and fatter, and maybe slower and lazier. Their claws might lose strength and sharpness over time. The sedentary group might not breed as fast as there is less food and water. They have to watch their backs more and will become quicker and perhaps develop better eyesight or smell or both to avoid predators and to catch their own food. And they would develop sharper claws, and stronger limbs, to climb the hardwood trees. Eventually, physiological changes in the two groups might make them sufficiently different that a male and a female from each group could no longer breed. The result is two species from one. This might take many tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions of years depending on the circumstances.

But food is running out in the habitat of the sedentary group, so some of them migrate in search of a better food supply. They find it, and live in this new, different environment for a long period and adapt to it. Eventually, they are sufficiently different from the rest of the group they left behind, that the two parts of the group become separate species. The part of the group that migrated is then hit by an ice age and a large number of them set off to find a warmer climate and more food. And so the process continues.

Some groups and part groups continue to adapt to their ever-changing environment, while others die out. Some subgroups have to become smarter to survive. Constant use of their brains results in them finding new ways to survive. They use sticks and rocks to help them kill prey, and fire to cook it and to keep warm during cold winters. These particular subgroups no longer live in trees as there are predators waiting for them, so they start living in caves instead where they can throw sticks and stones to ward off these predators, and put up barricades at night, knowing that other, bigger, stronger species don’t have the know-how to tear them down.

One particular subgroup develops its brainpower at a faster rate than similar species and secures the lion’s share of the available food. The several species that make up the close cousins of this superior species become increasingly hungry. Their numbers dwindle and they eventually become extinct. The surviving species is modern humans. Their close cousins, the Neanderthals and others, have disappeared. Meanwhile, slightly more distant cousins within the Hominidae family are doing their own thing in their own environment, perhaps including members of the initial species described in this example, and are still climbing trees and have plenty of food and man is not a threat (until far more recently). Evolution has taken place!

We might be seeing the potential for further evolutionary change in humans in the last hundred years or so. We saw an increase in height and weight as we improved our nutrition, general living conditions and health. More recently, we’ve seen further considerable increases in weight due to junk food and sedentary lifestyle. If you divided a group of humans into two further groups, put up a wall between them and let one group continue a lazy, junk food existence and let the other group become fitness fanatics, changes in each group might become sufficient that breeding between the “lazy” and “fit” groups may no longer be possible in perhaps as little as several tens of thousands of years, assuming the “lazy” group survives its excesses.

The evolutionary process is sometimes divided into microevolution, which describes small changes over a short period of a few generations, and macroevolution, which refers to the larger changes that occur over a longer period. The creationist model supports microevolution but not macroevolution where new species might be formed. However, the two terms describe the same process. Any division is arbitrary and, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, has no scientific basis. In the example above, two groups of the same species aren’t going to stop evolving simply because they’ve reached the boundary of their ability to reproduce together. They may continue to evolve and may end up as two separate species.

Evidence of evolution is abundant. You may have seen those Christian websites that quote from works by scientists admitting to a lack of transitional forms. The sites then claim that the absence of these forms means that evolution is nonsense and therefore everything had to be created by a creator. But note that the references are always old, usually from the 1960s through to about 1980. Research into transitional forms is expensive and has long lead times. Since pioneering research in the mid and late 1970s, numerous transitional forms have been identified. Sure there are many missing links, and probably always will be. But knowledge of evolution has come a long way since Darwin first made his observations on fossils and species, and saw evidence of evolution, rather than accepting without question what was stated in literature from 2,000 years ago.

How the events of WWI led to the start of daylight saving time in the US


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The following is an extract from my book on daylight saving time, The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy, and shows how certain events in World War I initiated daylight saving time in the US for the first time in 1918. The ebook can be obtained from Amazon, Kobo Books, Apple and Google. See links at bottom …

… A German U-boat had sunk British passenger liner Lusitania in May 1915 with 128 Americans among the dead. President [Woodrow] Wilson had declared that “America was too proud to fight” and demanded an end to passenger ship attacks. Soon supporters of daylight saving were linking the idea to patriotism and efficiency, with slogans such as “mobilize an extra hour of daylight and help win the war”.

Then, in February 1917, America learned of a coded telegram sent the previous month by German foreign secretary Arthur Zimmermann via the German ambassador in Washington, D.C. to the German ambassador in Mexico. It asked that he persuade the Mexican government to become Germany’s ally against the United States in exchange for financial assistance and support to regain Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, lost in the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848. The telegram was intercepted by the British. The same message announced that Germany was starting unrestricted submarine warfare from 1 February. Over the next two months, a number of American merchant ships were attacked and three sank. This was the final straw.

On 2 April 1917, the first day of the new parliamentary session, Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany. Congress complied and on 6 April the United States was at war. Less than two weeks later, on 17 April, a bill calling for standard time and daylight saving time was drawn up by the National Daylight Saving Association and brought into Congress by [William] Borland [of Missouri] and senator William Calder of Brooklyn. The bill not only asked for five months of daylight saving, but to finally make railway time (effectively standard time) official, which had been observed by virtually the whole country for well over 30 years.

A long list of leading daylight saving supporters testified before the Senate committee, including [Marcus] Marks, [Robert] Garland, [Lincoln] Filene, George Renaud, C. M. Hayes and [Harold] Jacoby. They presented a wide range of arguments in favour of daylight saving, such as reduced fuel consumption, an increase in food production, improved health, and more time for recreation. Garland, for example, stated that the estimated number of incandescent lamps in America was 130 million and growing rapidly, and to illuminate them all for one hour a day from May to September took 937,000 tons of coal. The energy saved could be rechannelled into the war effort, he pointed out. Professor Robert Willson of Harvard University reminded the committee of how most cities near railway time zone boundaries chose the eastern zone and hence longer afternoons. Sidney Colgate of Colgate & Company spoke about his firm’s experiment in 1915, where it put clocks an hour ahead in July and August. A vote among staff found that 94 per cent wanted it to continue through September.

Meanwhile, very few places advanced their clocks in the summer of 1917. Two that did were the cities of Green Bay and Superior in Wisconsin although a number of businesses around the country and a few schools kept daylight saving hours. Perhaps the general thinking among communities was that national daylight saving was close and there was no need to go it alone.

As usual, farmers and the railways were against daylight saving time. The American Railway Association’s D. C. Stewart had calculated the number of timepieces at stations and on rail staff across the country at about 1.7 million and stressed to the committee that if just one clock or watch wasn’t changed correctly, there could be a terrible accident on one of the many single track lines.

While the reasons to have daylight saving were sufficient to carry the bill through the Senate on 27 June 1917, the bill’s path in the House of Representatives took much longer. Various government and business spokesmen supported the bill, and the press now largely favoured the scheme. P. S. Risdale of the National War Garden Commission said that daylight saving would add 910 million person hours of home vegetable gardening a year. This meant that more food produced by the large firms could be transported to America’s allies in Europe where millions of farm hands had been taken off the land to become soldiers, and countries were starving.

But farming and railway groups kept up their fierce opposition to daylight saving, as did many politicians. Some felt they couldn’t treat it as a pressing matter, such as representative Otis Wingo of Arkansas who commented:

“I do not know that I have any particular objection to this bill; I just decline to take it seriously. … A majority of the men who advocate this character of legislation have not seen the sun rise for twenty years. … This bill is for the relief of the slackers of the nation who are too lazy to get up early. … We should not be wasting our time on such bills, but should go on to the war-finance bill. … While our boys are fighting in the trenches, we are here like a lot of schoolboys ‘tinkering’ with the clocks.” (United States, Congressional Record, 1917)

Nevertheless, the tide of support for the bill continued to grow. When the House was advised that considerably more coal was consumed in the cooler months of March and October than over summer, it revised the bill from five to seven months of daylight time to start on the last Sunday in March and finish on the last Sunday in October. The amended bill was passed by 253 votes to 40 on 15 March 1918 and approved by the Senate the following day, becoming law on 19 March. The result was the Standard Time Act of 1918, or the Calder Act, which included daylight saving time, the long title being “An Act to save daylight and to provide standard time for the United States”.

Except for Alaska, clocks throughout the country were put forward an hour for the first time at 2 a.m. on Sunday 31 March 1918. Thus 2 a.m. became 3 a.m. Many folk stayed up until 2 a.m. to make the change although the National Daylight Saving Association had suggested that households adjust their clocks before they went to bed the previous evening and for workplaces to alter theirs at the end of the last shift of the previous week. It was Easter and priests were worried that people would oversleep and be late for service due to the time change. The association advised churches to “ring their bells more lustily than usual”.

Some people went out and celebrated the changeover. Thousands turned out at Madison Square Park in New York to watch a parade featuring the New York Police Department Band and members of the Boy Scouts. As the crowd listened to patriotic speeches, Marcus Marks appeared from the Aldine Club where he had been celebrating with other Daylight Saving Association members. He made his way to the Metropolitan Tower and moved the minute hand of the clock ahead an hour to resounding cheers. Similarly, William Calder attended a gathering in nearby Brooklyn where the Borough Hall clock was wound forward.

(end of extract)

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The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy can be obtained at the following:




NZ: as per US



Kobo Books






Apple ITunes







Australia: and click on Angus & Robertson

Or see other extracts and an index to the book here:

Brisbane’s 200th anniversary


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Last Monday (7 May 2018), I sent the following email to the Queensland premier, relevant councils, and historical and other organisations about a proposal for celebrating Brisbane’s 200th anniversary …

Dear Premier, Councils and Organisations

Brisbane will be 200 years old in 2024 and this might be a good time to celebrate the history of the city just as we did in 2009 with the 150th anniversary of Queensland or Q150. Plans would probably need to start during the current term of government which is due to run until late 2020. Q150 planning started in 2005. Call it B200?

What is now Brisbane was founded in September 1824 at Redcliffe and moved to its current site on the Brisbane River in May 1825. A relevant lead-in would be the story of the castaways who were marooned in the Moreton Bay area in 1823. Their journey would make a very interesting re-enactment or series of re-enactments starting in April 2023, 200 years after they landed on Moreton Island.

I have copied a number of organisations and councils into this email who may be interested in being involved in some capacity in a B200 celebration which I would envisage to run from 2023 to 2025 with a series of events. Please feel free to forward this email to any others you think might be interested.

I haven’t contacted any Aboriginal groups re involvement, sensitivities, etc but I think the best people to do that would be the Qld Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships. There could also be involvement by schools, universities, sponsors and of course the media. I know that some schools cover the castaways’ story in their curriculum. A person I know is writing a children’s book on the castaways and also suggests a play be put together telling the castaways’ story.

I would also like to suggest a one hour television documentary on early Brisbane and a 90-120 minute movie on the castaways. Their story is in my non-fiction book, Through the Eyes of Thomas Pamphlett: Convict and Castaway, now also an ebook. I would like to write a script for such a movie. I haven’t contacted any film companies at this stage. The federal government is increasing the tax breaks for the movie industry. Another option would be a book on the history of Brisbane.

This could be an excellent tourism opportunity for the wider Brisbane region. I think the Queensland Government might be the best ones to coordinate any B200 celebration although I’m happy to help in any way I can. There could be a role for each government department as there was for Q150. Part of the program could include support for regional cities and towns to celebrate their birthdays.

Those included in this email are as follows:

Queensland Premier
Brisbane City Council (via website)
Moreton Bay Regional Council
Noosa Shire Council
Redland City Council
Sunshine Coast Council
Abbey Museum
Bribie Historical Society
Brisbane History Group
Brisbane’s Living Heritage Network
Cooroy-Noosa Genealogical & Historical Research Group
History Redcliffe
North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum
Pamphlett Sea Scouts
Pine Rivers Heritage Museum
Queensland Colonial and Heritage Dancers
Queensland Living History Federation (via website)
Royal Historical Society of Queensland
Sandgate and District Historical Society and Museum
Wynnum Manly Historical Society
Screen Queensland

I’d like to put the contents of this email on my web page at and my Facebook page at

Please let me know if you have any queries.

Yours sincerely

Chris Pearce

William Willett and the origins of daylight saving time


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In this excerpt from my nonfiction ebook, The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy, I look at how William Willett of the UK first developed the concept of daylight saving time …

In the first decade of the twentieth century, at a time when many countries were coming to grips with standard time and time zones or hadn’t yet introduced them, English builder and fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, William Willett, was worried people were wasting daylight. Benjamin Franklin had raised the issue over 100 years earlier. Whereas Franklin suggested half jokingly that we get up and go to bed sooner, Willett proposed seriously that we move the clock hands forward. But the world was still in the middle of shifting its clocks from solar or local time to standard time.

After attending Marylebone Grammar School and gaining some commercial experience, Willett worked in his father’s business, Willett Building Services. The pair built houses in the better parts of London, where “Willett built” became synonymous with quality housing. He was always conscious of making the most of natural light in his buildings. At age 48, Willett was riding his horse in Petts Wood near his home at Chislehurst, Kent, south-east of London, early one summer’s morning in 1905. As a builder, he would take notice of the various houses he passed. He saw most of the blinds still shut and an idea for saving daylight occurred to him.

In his spare time over the next couple of years, Willett developed a plan to shift some of the early morning daylight to later in the day, noting the benefits this would bring and any objections he was likely to encounter. He wrote and published a booklet called The Waste of Daylight in July 1907. In it, he expressed concern about the hours of morning daylight not utilised in spring and summer and the lack of daylight at the end of the working day for outdoor leisure activities. He suggested that if some of the sunlight could be transferred from the morning to the evening, the advantages of extra exercise and recreation and the money saved on artificial lighting would accrue to all. He claimed opportunities for rifle practice as a further advantage.

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His plan was to put clocks forward 20 minutes each Sunday in April for a total of 80 minutes and then back 20 minutes each Sunday in September. This process of phasing the change in and out, he argued, would mean no one would really notice it, yet people would have the benefit of an hour and 20 minutes extra light late in the day over the summer months. He illustrated how easy the change would be by describing how those travelling east or west by ship changed their watches and quickly forgot about it as they enjoyed other activities.

Willett’s idea seemed sensible, especially with daybreak so early in Britain in summer. Sunrise in London on 21 June was 3:43 a.m. and civil dawn 2:55 a.m., explaining the popularity of blinds and shutters to keep the light out. Under his proposal, sunrise would be just after 5 a.m. At the other end of the day, adding 80 minutes to the sunset time of 8:22 p.m. would push it out to 9:42 p.m. and civil dusk to 10:29 p.m. This would allow people to go to bed at 10 p.m. and not have to use artificial light. Those who retired later would need their electric lights, candles and lamps for up to 80 minutes less than usual.

His booklet included a calculation of total savings his idea could be expected to generate. He assumed the cost of artificial light was a tenth of a penny per head per hour. Under the scheme, the total amount of extra daylight in the evening was 210 hours a year. Using Whitaker’s estimate of the population of Great Britain and Ireland at that time of 43.66 million, gross savings would equate to £3,820,250. He then deducted a third of this “to meet all possible objections, including loss of profit to producers of artificial light”, arriving at net savings of £2,546,833. He claimed “a permanent economy equivalent to a reduction of the National Debt by at least one hundred million pounds sterling”, but didn’t initially elaborate on how he arrived at this figure.

(end of excerpt)

Read how Willett markets his idea and booklet and how he struggles for years to get it through the UK Parliament and into reality. The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy can be obtained from Amazon, Kobo Books, Apple iTunes and Google Play:




NZ: as per US



Kobo Books






Apple ITunes







Australia: and click on Angus & Robertson


Daylight saving time controversies in Queensland


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Daylight saving time in Australia ends on 1 April. It has always been controversial in Queensland. The state has only had daylight saving in four years, 1971-72 and 1989-90 to 1991-92. Here’s an excerpt from my 400 page ebook on the history of daylight saving time around the world, The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy, on the lead-up to the reintroduction of daylight saving in 1989 …

In 1987, Labor prime minister Bob Hawke told a conference why he thought there would never be daylight saving in Queensland under [Joh] Bjelke-Petersen who was still premier: “That’s because he reckons the sun shines out of his arse and he’s not getting out of bed an hour earlier for anyone.” [Herald Sun, Melbourne, 6 Oct 2007]

On 1 December of that year, the premier resigned and quit politics following loss of support within his party and amid allegations of widespread corruption within the government brought to light by the Fitzgerald Inquiry. The new premier was the National Party’s Mike Ahern.

Momentum for daylight saving built in 1988. The Liberal Party, which hadn’t been part of government since 1983 when the National Party ended the coalition, led the charge, hoping to gain seats in the state election due in late 1989. The push intensified during that year with the Liberal and Labor parties and the media all supporting daylight saving. The National Party still rejected it and on 9 August, the party’s state president Robert Sparkes told Ahern to abide by the position, which he did until 21 August.

On that day, he went against party policy and introduced a Daylight Saving Bill into the Queensland Parliament, announcing a trial for the summer of 1989-90. Pressure from business and Brisbane Liberal mayor Sallyanne Atkinson had led to the backdown. Also, a government survey found that 71 per cent of residents wanted daylight saving although the proportion was much lower outside the south-east. Further, an election was due in a few months and the National Party was keen to hold onto its six seats on the Gold Coast, where support for a time change was high. Twenty minutes after the announcement, the whole state government switchboard became jammed with calls opposing the plan. There were sackloads of mail complaining about the decision for months and death threats against public servants.

Daylight saving was probably the main issue prompting party stalwart Russell Cooper to challenge Ahern for leadership. Ahern survived a spill motion by 26 votes to 21 on 29 August. The Daylight Saving Act 1989 covering just 1989-90 (29 October to 4 March) was passed by parliament on 18 September. But Cooper was voted in by government members as premier a week later.

A possible backlash by the state’s north and west over daylight saving prompted the government to set up a Daylight Saving Task Force to receive submissions before and during the time change, to ensure no part of the community was disadvantaged by it, and to monitor the implementation of the trial. The task force was to report the results of the test by 30 April 1990 and recommend whether Queensland should have daylight saving in future years. By the time the task force released its 63 page “Report of the Trial of Daylight Saving” on 27 April, Queensland had a new government, the Labor Party having been swept to power on 7 December 1989 with Wayne Goss as premier. The National Party had been brought undone mainly by the findings of the Fitzgerald Inquiry (1987-1989) into government corruption rather than daylight saving or any other issue.

(end of excerpt)

My ebook, The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy, can be obtained from Amazon, Kobo Books and Apple.

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National daylight saving time in the US: Uniform Time Act of 1966


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Daylight saving time starts again today (March 11) in the United States. This excerpt from my book on the history of daylight saving time around the world, The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy, looks at the lead-up and result of the Uniform Time Act of 1966. The US had suffered a chaotic time with daylight saving since the end of World War II with states and municipalities basically going their own way. By 1966, 18 states plus the District of Columbia had daylight saving throughout, 13 states had daylight saving in part of the state and 19 had it in no part (see the table that shows which states were in which category towards the end of chapter 13 of my book; I can’t reproduce it here).  Here’s the excerpt …

Congress had become increasingly concerned over the years by the haphazard approach to daylight saving across the country, especially in those states where individual counties and municipalities went their own way. Many bills for uniform time were introduced but few made it to either house for debate and a vote. In February 1948, Kansas senator Clyde Reed had a bill for national daylight saving from the last Sunday in April until the last Sunday in September each year. But Congress didn’t seem game to look at universal daylight time so soon after the controversies it had brought during the war. He got little support. One senator wrote him a letter strongly opposing the measure, closing with “Disgustingly yours”.

New representative Harley Staggers of West Virginia introduced the first of his annual daylight saving bills into Congress in 1949 “after citizens from cities as well as rural areas complained of the confusion resulting from the ‘two-clock system’ during the summer months”, he said. A few of his bills got to the committee hearings stage but no further. In 1959, he gave up on daylight saving and tried a bill for standard time, just keen to get all of the country’s clocks on one time or the other rather than have a confusing mess each summer. Next year, he was back with daylight saving and, for the first time, his bill got a hearing by the House Interstate Commerce Committee. In 1962, his bill was for standard time again.

Bodies such as the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations were keen for Congress to enact uniform daylight saving. More bills were drafted, including by Staggers and other members, often with his involvement. A New York newspaper [The Kingston Daily Freeman] described the US time problem as a Gordian knot that “needs to be slashed with one mighty cut”. The ICC described the system as one of “increasing chaos”. More and more farmers agreed that a uniform time system, even if it included daylight saving, was better than the present costly and confused patchwork of times.

A House commerce subcommittee approved by a vote of 9 to 8 a bill introduced by Staggers in 1964 that did away with the term “daylight saving” and instead used the four existing time zones, Pacific, Mountain, Central and Eastern, and added a new one, Atlantic time. From late April to late October, the whole of the area covered by each time zone would shift one zone to the east. For example, the Mountain zone would move to the Central zone, meaning that the region would be on Mountain Standard Time in winter and Central Standard Time in summer. People in the Eastern zone would be on Atlantic Standard Time in the warmer months. While the bill had no binding provisions for states and communities to go along with it, the author felt few areas wouldn’t welcome uniform time. Common start and end dates would be mandatory for any location using the scheme. Federal agencies and interstate transport bodies would have to comply. The Senate Commerce Committee approved a similar bill. But the current Congress session ended without the bills progressing further.

With Harley Staggers now chairman of the House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee from January 1966, bills for nationwide daylight saving were thought to have a better chance of getting through the chamber. The issue was his hobby horse. His varied background before being elected to Congress, including science teacher, head coach, sheriff, brakeman, rubber maker, silk mill worker, field hand, highway right of way agent, county rent control director, state director of the Office of War Information, and lieutenant commander and navigator in the US Naval Air Corps, perhaps enabled him to see the daylight saving time issue from more perspectives than most people. He gave the matter high priority.

The committee was looking at a plan where states that chose to adopt daylight saving used set dates of the last Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October and for a whole state to either use it or stick with standard time. This differed from a bill the Senate had passed the previous year that allowed local option. The House passed its own bill by a ratio of better than three to one on 16 March and sent it to the Senate. But the upper house added an amendment that permitted a state to split into two parts and have daylight time in one part and standard time in the other. Staggers called for a meeting to sort out differences. The updated bill required uniform changeover dates in all areas observing daylight saving in 1966 and for each state to use either standard or daylight time from 1967. If a state wanted to exempt itself from daylight saving, it had to legislate by 1 April of that year.

The Senate agreed to the compromise on 29 March 1966 and the House passed the bill by a vote of 281 to 91 next day. President Lyndon Johnson signed it on 14 April and it became the Uniform Time Act of 1966. After two decades of time turmoil, the United States seemed to have at last sorted out daylight saving with federal legislation rather than leaving it to states and communities. Railroad stations wouldn’t need clocks with two hour hands anymore. Many people thought time would no longer be a problem. Not so. [end of chapter]

With the Uniform Time Act, the US states had to decide if they were going to have daylight saving or stick to standard time all year. In 1966, counties, cities and towns in 13 states had chosen whether to use advanced time, legally or otherwise. Local areas would now have to go with whatever their state decided to do. Many businesses as well as television, radio, trains, planes, bankers and golfers liked daylight time, while farmers, theatre owners, restaurants, bowling alleys, and families with children heading off to school before sunrise didn’t want it. By and large, it was a city versus country dispute.

State legislatures swung into action and numerous bills were introduced in 1966 and 1967 to exempt no fewer than 25 states from daylight saving: Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio and South Dakota in the midwest, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas in the south and Arizona, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming in the west. Three state legislatures weren’t due to hold regular sessions in 1967: Kentucky, Virginia and Mississippi. Another complexity was that 12 states were split between two time zones and the western part of some of them had often used daylight saving in the past, meaning that both parts were on the same time in summer. The Uniform Time Act would cause the two areas to be an hour different all year.

Committees met, houses debated, and groups lobbied. …

(end of excerpt)

The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy can be obtained from Amazon, Kobo and Apple in various countries around the world. Here’s the link to the US Amazon page:

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Origins of daylight saving time in Canada


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Daylight saving time begins again in the US and Canada on 11 March. Here’s an excerpt from my book on the history of daylight saving time around the world, The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy. Some parts of Canada were quite early in their adoption of daylight saving …

A number of cities in Canada had daylight saving several years before any entire country or state adopted it. The first was the city of Port Arthur (now part of Thunder Bay) in northern Ontario. John Hewitson, a teacher and then a businessman in this small shipping centre on Lake Superior, was keen for local children and sportspeople to enjoy an extra hour of daylight in summer evenings. With the support of the local trade board, he convinced Port Arthur Council to pass a bylaw to switch the city from Central time to Eastern time for a two month trial in 1908. The experiment was viewed favourably and Port Arthur voted for a permanent change from 30 April 1909. The neighbouring city of Fort William adjusted its clocks to Eastern time in 1910. In the same year, the boundary between the Central and Eastern time zones was shifted over 200 miles (320 kilometres) west and this whole region fell within the Eastern zone.

Moose Jaw, a city in southern Saskatchewan, was probably the first place in Canada to actually observe daylight saving time as distinct from a temporary or more permanent switch in time zones. The local power plant was out of action due to a fire and the city used the new time from 1 June 1912 until the end of summer on 22 September. Canadian Pacific Railway wasn’t in favour of daylight saving and the trains ran to standard time. The scheme wasn’t used in subsequent years. A referendum on daylight saving was held in the city on 12 May 1915 but the results aren’t known.

Neighbouring city Regina, the province’s capital, adopted daylight saving in 1914. Landowners voted decisively in favour of the measure in April of that year although the Trades and Labour Council felt that the bylaw wasn’t legal as only property owners were allowed to vote on it. The council also argued that daylight time would result in people having to work longer hours. In December, the annual report of the city light superintendent showed that the scheme saved ratepayers between $20,000 and $30,000 in artificial lighting. Baseball and football matches could be played in the evening. Or residents were able to spend the time at local attraction Lake Wascana in daylight. The scheme was deemed a success and it started a month earlier the following year although newspaper reports stated that clocks “will be turned back one hour”. Regina had daylight saving in subsequent years.

Saskatoon, the province’s largest city, had daylight saving from 1 June to 6 July in 1914. At a plebiscite on 30 June, less than 40 per cent of voters favoured the measure and it was dropped. Davidson, a town to the north of Moose Jaw, also had daylight saving in 1914, as did the town of Melfort, north-east of Saskatoon. The city of Prince Albert had the scheme in 1916 but not in 1917 after 67 per cent of people voted against it in a ballot. Daylight saving only lasted a year or two in most of the places in Saskatchewan that used it.

Daylight saving didn’t even last a season in many localities that tried it. In the town of Orillia, Ontario, mayor Bill Frost, who liked anything progressive, new or scientific, vigorously promoted the measure for “The Town Ahead”. Residents asked one another: “Do you go on God’s time or Bill Frost’s time?” Orillia’s “leap ahead” day was Saturday 22 June 1912, but “Daylight Bill” forgot to reset his watch and in the morning was an hour late for church. Daylight saving was scheduled to go through to 31 August, but the scheme lasted just two weeks due to opposition from various groups. The town, to the north of Toronto, was probably the second in Canada to have daylight time, after Moose Jaw.

Kenora, Ontario set a starting date for daylight saving of 1 May 1914 after the majority of the town’s citizens were found to favour the proposal. But it soon became apparent that folk in the neighbouring town of Keewatin, a few miles along the shoreline of the Lake of the Woods, weren’t going to embrace the idea. Speculation ran through both places as to who was going to accept it and who would ignore it. Most businesses, schools and shops in Kenora made the change, while most of those in Keewatin kept the old time. The ferry stuck with standard time as most patrons were from Keewatin although on Saturday nights the ferry master observed daylight time as people came to Kenora for shopping and the theatre and wanted to be there at the right time. Many children of Keewatin timber workers went to school in Kenora and families had to use both time systems. Three weeks into the time change, on 22 May, a meeting of the local Retail Merchants’ Association decided the situation was untenable and shops set their clocks back. Everyone in both towns was on standard time again by end of month.

A number of Canadian cities and towns considered daylight saving time in 1916, mainly to conserve energy and provide more opportunities for recreation late in the day. Some areas reversed decisions on daylight saving before it started and many others returned to standard time early although a few continued with the scheme to the scheduled end.

Halifax and Winnipeg, capitals of Nova Scotia and Manitoba, introduced and discarded daylight saving in 1916. Fierce debate engulfed both cities throughout the summer. In Halifax, daylight time commenced on 1 May and was scheduled to finish on 30 September. The council meeting after the decision to adopt the scheme was filled to overflowing, with plenty of applause, jeering, shouting and laughter echoing around the hall. Local newspapers were swamped with letters from readers. Petitions both for and against the change were signed by thousands. Daylight time ended four weeks early on 3 September due to sustained opposition from a large number of citizens. In the following year, opponents convinced the council not to renew the plan as it had isolated the city from the rest of the province.

end of excerpt

The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy can be obtained from Amazon, Kobo and Apple.

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Daylight saving time chaos in Michigan


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With the Uniform Time Act of 1966, the US states had to decide if they were going to have daylight saving or stick to standard time all year. Further to the extract from my book on daylight saving time, The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy, at, here’s an extract on daylight saving time chaos in Michigan during the same period. …

In Michigan, a bill to stay on standard time was passed by both houses and signed by the governor in March 1967. However, daylight saving supporters, including senator Raymond Dzendzel, the Chamber of Commerce and the Retailers Association, set out to obtain the 123,100 petition signatures needed (equal to 5 per cent of votes for governor at the last election) to force a referendum. If they were successful, the state would have daylight time for two summers before the scheme was put to the vote at the election in November 1968. Opponents of daylight saving, namely the state Farm Bureau, theatre owners and bowling alley proprietors, tried to block the petitions by taking the matter to the Court of Appeals. But the move was ruled to be premature. By late April, Dzendzel had collected nearly 200,000 signatures, suspending the state Act for standard time. But farming, bowling and theatre interests went back to court. The State Board of Canvassers delayed certifying the petitions due to suits pending in three courts. After a protracted battle, the Supreme Court handed the issue back to the canvassers.

Objectors to daylight saving checked a sample of signatures and found 41 per cent to be invalid, reducing the number of acceptable names to less than 120,000, and took the issue back to court again. The final number of valid signatures was determined to be about 125,000, enough for the switch to daylight time to be made on 14 June 1967. As a Michigan newspaper put it: “After months of debate in the Legislature, bills, amendments, court decisions, motions, appeals, referendum calls and other legal gobbledygook, Michigan today was an hour faster than the sun.” (Kit Kincaid, “Daylight saving time comes to state, some UP communities are holding out”, The Ludington Daily News, Ludington, Michigan, United States, 14 June 1967, p. 1). Hotel patrons weren’t impressed as the change meant an hour’s less drinking time. Nor were Upper Peninsula residents happy when they had to go from Central Standard Time to Eastern Daylight Time, a difference of two hours, pushing sunset back to as late as nearly 10 p.m. in western parts of the state. A dozen or more Upper Peninsula counties disregarded the law and used Central Daylight Time. Proponents of standard time pursued further but unsuccessful court action over the petitions.

The lead up to the referendum in November 1968 pitted businesses, city workers, participants in outdoor activities and easterners against farmers, parents, theatres, indoor sports, bars and westerners. Preliminary results indicated that out of about 2.8 million votes, daylight time won by some 25,000 and supporters were rejoicing. More than two weeks later, the final tally showed a win for standard time by just 413 votes and suddenly the other side in the confrontation was celebrating. Given the closeness, the Board of Canvassers decided on a recount, finding tabulation errors in several counties, uncompleted returns and uncounted absentee votes. The board’s revised figures had standard time winning by 1,501 votes.

Dzendzel and several business groups sought a citizen recount at a cost of $5 a precinct, refunded if the result was reversed. They checked about 2,700 of Michigan’s approximately 5,600 precincts in 80 of 83 counties and found many errors of various descriptions, prompting calls for a review of vote counting processes and staff training. Supporters and opponents of daylight saving anxiously followed media reports of the progress of the count. By 1 January 1969, the lead for standard time was down to 1,096 votes, reduced further to 550 by 29 January. The final difference was 488 votes, which meant that 50.01 per cent of people who voted chose standard time and 49.99 per cent daylight time although less than half the adult population cast a vote. Fast time supporters didn’t give up. Two law students took the matter to the Appeals Court. Also, a bill was introduced to rescind the standard time law.

When nearly the whole country began daylight saving on 27 April 1969, almost all of Michigan stayed on standard time. A few communities south-west of Detroit along the border with Ohio either changed to daylight time or had businesses, schools or churches that started an hour earlier. The Upper Peninsula was to shift from Central to Eastern time, and while three counties didn’t change, the others welcomed the move as they would be on the same time as Wisconsin.

A drive for petition signatures in late 1969 and into 1970 to force another ballot later that year was led by Dzendzel and there were more bills, hearings and court cases. Petitions now had to carry over 200,000 signatures as the threshold had been raised from 5 per cent to 8 per cent of votes for governor at the last election. But a problem over the legality of petition submission dates was tied up in court and time ran out for a public vote in 1970. Proponents struggled to get enough signatures and resorted to other means. A House vote on initiative petitions failed by 60 votes to 46, ensuring a referendum. In another move, the Supreme Court validated a request for the legislature to overturn its 1967 decision for the state to have standard time or else the daylight saving question would be on the November 1972 ballot. The legislature took no action.

Both sides kept pressing their views before the 1972 vote and the daylight saving advocates seemed to be winning the race according to polls. Market Opinion Research surveys found that the proportion of Michigan residents who wanted daylight time increased from 44 per cent in August to 49 per cent in September and 53 per cent in October. On election day, 55 per cent of people voted for daylight saving although the figure for the Upper Peninsula was only 27 per cent. After four years on standard time, the state joined most of the nation in putting clocks forward on 29 April 1973. That left Arizona, Hawaii and most of Indiana as the only states with year round standard time.

(end of extract)

The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy is available at Amazon, Kobo and Apple.

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