47 years later, Alberta's original daylight time activist still wants extra sunlight

47 years later, Alberta's original daylight time activist still wants extra sunlight

A private member's bill in Alberta wants to put an end to fiddling with the clocks, but the grassroots activists who fought to bring an extra hour of sunshine to the province nearly 50 years ago wants it to stay.

Bill Creighton was one of the two Calgarians who spearheaded the campaign to bring daylight time to the province.

In 1967, Alberta was one of the few places in North America that didn't participate in the bi-annual time change. 

But Creighton and David Matthews saw the benefits that hundreds of hours of extra sunlight could bring to amateur sports and outdoor activities in the province between March and November.

"It's not like we're in California where every night it's nice and warm to sit out," Creighton said.

"If you've got kids or grandkids, like I do, playing these sports, you go to support them and you just about freeze to death most nights."

4-year fight for extra sunlight

The pair launched a grassroots movement, which saw them face-off on public radio and television against drive-in theatre owners who worried the change would hurt their bottom line. 

Newspaper spreads advocated against the proposed change. 

One ad read, "If you think you're in the dark now, consider what Daylight Saving Time will do." 

Another warned the switch would mean "sending young children to school in the cold and damp 'twilight zone' of early morning" and would hurt their grades. 

The '67 plebiscite was defeated, but by such a slim margin of 51 to 49 per cent that Creighton and Matthews kept pushing through to the next election in '71.

They triumphed that year, 61 to 39 per cent.

Year-round daylight time

Now, nearly 50 years later, Alberta's youngest MLA says people "overwhelmingly" want to stop fussing with the clocks. 

By the end of the month, Thomas Dang plans to introduce his private member's bill to abolish the time change, but that could include staying on daylight time permanently — meaning Alberta would not fall back this November.

Creighton hopes the province keeps daylight time, and has contacted the MLA's office to share his thoughts.

"I still feel as strongly about that as I did then. That hasn't changed," he said.

Creighton is well aware of the public health arguments against changing the clocks, and says it'd "probably be the easiest thing" to stick with daylight time year-round. 

"With Calgary and Edmonton's long cold winters, every hour you get you can utilize outdoors in the spring and summer is very important," he said.

Creighton says daylight time creates 238 extra hours of daylight from March to November, which benefits the province's outdoor enthusiasts, 75,000 amateur soccer players, 300,000 golfers and patio restaurants.

"It's one of those things you probably won't know it's gone until you miss it."