[URBAN NOTE] “The Noiseless Revolution”
Torontoist’s Chris Bateman describes how, in 1883, Toronto adopted standardized time.
Before time was standardized around the world, Toronto’s public clocks, such as the one at St. Lawrence Hall, were set based on the position of the sun observed at the Toronto Observatory at University College. Photo from the Toronto Public Library, E 9-234.
The approximately 17-and-a-half minutes between 11:35 and 11:52 a.m. on November 19, 1883, didn’t officially exist in Toronto.
When the time reached 25 minutes to noon on that day a little over 133 years ago, the city’s public clocks at St. Lawrence Hall, Osgoode Hall, Union Station, and at various fire stations quietly skipped almost 20 minutes ahead.
This was the day the Toronto switched to standard time, abandoning forever its own hyper local time calculations in favour of a system synchronized with towns, cities, and countries around the world.
Remarkably, and quite improbably, the origin of this chronological shift lies in a typographical error in a train timetable in the 1876 Official Irish Travel Guide.