Tim Belford: Short Takes On Life
Tim Belford
Tim Belford
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Tim Belford is host of Quebec A.M. -- CBC Radio's popular English- language morning show (91.7 FM, 6-9, Mon.-Fri). He also is said to know a thing or three about wine.

Posted 04.08.03
Quebec City


Time, ladies and gentlemen, time...

I've always thought that Sir Sandford Fleming was one of those neglected figures of Canadian history.

Here's the guy who did most of the original surveying for the Canadian Pacific Railway back in the eighteen hundreds.

Not only that but he was a heck of a scientist.

As a matter of fact, the whole system of what we know as standard time was really his baby.

You see, he cut a railway line across the continent through muskeg, prairie, and mountain.

To do this he had to overcome swamps, irritated Native Canadians, and mosquitoes large enough to carry off a good-sized horse if it wasn't properly tethered.

And, while he was doing this, he managed to find the time to actually think about time.

Prior to this, you see, there was no standardization. So each spot on the globe calculated their time of day by the movement of the sun.

So, when it was noon in Toronto, it was actually 11:58 in Hamilton, 12:08 in Belleville and 12:12:30 in Kingston.

You can imagine what sort of havoc this played with the train schedules at the time.

To get a better idea of what it must have been like, take Via rail's present-day unenviable arrival record and put all its stops in different time zones and let your imagination wander.

Well, old Sir Sandford fixed it all.

He proposed that the globe be divided into twenty-four fixed time zones of 15 degrees of longitude.

Time - seeing as Britain ran the world - would begin in Greenwich and move westward.

And it worked.

On January 1, 1885 the world adopted the universal time system.

And things would have been fine except somebody had to monkey with the system and give us Daylight Savings Time when we all put our clocks forward an hour.

As far as I can see, this is to placate the idlers and riffraff of the world who don't get out of bed until after 7:30 a.m.

But what about us poor morning workers?

Bakers, cab drivers, fishermen, and yes, radio hosts.

We slog our way through Winter in darkness and just when we begin to see the light of spring, you take it all back be re-setting the clock!

For what? So late risers can enjoy another cocktail at the end of the day before they put their barbecue on?

So sun freaks can wallow in a declining blaze of glory long after the sun should have set?

It's nonsense and it's unfair!

So, I propose that morning people of the world unite. Don't turn your clocks forward. Cling to the light.

Call your MP, your MNA, and tell them there is nothing to be saved!

Don't let the time thieves get away with… (fade Belford rant to disembodied CBC voice:)

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