Clocks keep track of the time in Ernie Strecker's Regina gift shop. ((CBC))

While most of the rest of Canada spends Sunday morning resetting the clocks in their homes and cars, Saskatchewan people will rise — once again — to the twice-yearly debate about whether the province should observe daylight time routines.

Most of Saskatchewan stays on central time all year round. Some border communities follow the time schemes of their neighbours in Manitoba or Alberta.

"We're out of whack with the rest of our suppliers," Regina gift shop owner Ernie Strecker told CBC News.

"We phone people say in Eastern Canada [and] part of the year we're one hour behind them. Part of the year we're two hours behind them.

"They're confused," added Strecker, whose Presents Worldwide Gifts store has more than two dozen clocks on display for sale. "We're confused."


Regina gift shop owner Ernie Strecker says he would like it if Saskatchewan adopted daylight time. ((CBC))

Talk about time change in Saskatchewan usually centres around the pros and cons of additional sunlight in the mornings or the evenings and often depends upon whether the commentator is from the western part of the province or the east.

The debate came to a head in the late 1950s and early 1960s when attempts were made to settle on mountain or central time.

A 1958 plebiscite on the topic failed to resolve the matter as urban voters liked CT, rural folk preferred MT and the question of daylight time was split about 50-50 among all voters.

Confusing compromise

A compromise — to allow local governments to choose a time zone — only led to confusion.

It meant that, for a time, Saskatchewan was on two times zones, mostly mountain in the western half and central in the east.

However, the vagaries of local preference meant the demarcation between west and east was not a perfectly straight line, leading to the curious anomaly of experiencing odd time changes when travelling north and south.


The clocks in the Regina newsroom of CBC remind reporters what time it is locally and in Toronto. The Toronto clock will change on Sunday. ((John Weidlich/CBC))

According to a special time committee's report submitted to the province in 1965, "the observance of one uniform time throughout the province all year ... would work, except the people of the province will never agree on whether it should be mountain or central time."

The 1966 Time Act set central time for the province, but allowed for a limited number of communities to opt for mountain time.

Over time, most opted out of mountain time. Now, according to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, only the Lloydminster area follows the mountain time zone.

CST or MT for news

The time question has also become a subject of debate for language stylists.

CBC News reports time zones in its online material.

When writing about Saskatchewan news events, editors switch from CT to MT when the clocks change in the spring.

However, that practice often elicits comments from online readers who insist the proper style, in the summer months, should be CST for Saskatchewan news articles.

The provincial government says people in Saskatchewan may get to vote on daylight time when they go to the polls in the next provincial election on Nov. 7, 2011.

Until then, while the rest of the country springs forward this weekend, in Saskatchewan time will stand still. At least for one hour.