By History Committee members Bruce McRae and Mary Ann Grant

Recently, our own City of Orillia was featured on the popular game show Jeopardy. What could we have done to garner such attention?





In case you were wondering what this was all about, here is the story!

Mayor, Frost – Daylight Bill – Daylight Savings Time

Photo from the Orillia Museum of Art & History Archives

Orillia’s Mayor in 1912 was William Sword Frost. He became known by the nickname, “Daylight Bill.” Mayor Frost gained this name when he acted upon one of the many ideas of Charles Harold Hale, co-publisher of The Orillia Packet and a Town Councillor.

Hale was big promoter of the Town of Orillia. He believed that by implementing the unprecedented concept now known as Daylight Savings the town of Orillia would be known as “The Town Ahead.”

According to an article in Orillia Today on March 21, 2019 written by Tom Villemaire, “The idea, at the start of the century, was to give the working class an extra hour of daylight at the end of the day when they were off work and to give them an extra hour of darkness when they were sleeping.”

Photo from the Orillia Museum of Art & History Archives

Hale convinced Mayor Frost that this was a good idea. Frost signed a bylaw implementing Daylight Savings Time on June 22, 1912.

Orillia was alone in adopting the concept of ‘Fast Time’ in the summer of 1912. The thought was by Orillians alone setting their clocks forward by one hour, Orillia was truly deserving of its self-proclaimed title of being ‘The Town Ahead.’

Sadly, it became a boondoggle. In the words of Toronto Star journalist Katie Daubs (July 8, 2017), “The bold attempt at Daylight Savings Time became a comic failure in Orillia. It was meant to be a bold idea to keep Orillia as the “The Town Ahead, but a summer dalliance with daylight savings time, crashed and burned.”

While some Orillia citizens and institutions (churches, factories, boarding houses for example) embraced the idea, some did not. It was chaos in the town. Factories such as Tudhope and E. Long Manufacturing had some employees adhering to the change and some refusing to do so.

According to Villemaire, “Bill Frost now being called “Daylight” Bill woke and dressed in his Sunday best and headed off to church only to find the service an hour long. He was late, waking at the old time – sleeping in – while everyone else at the church had arisen an hour earlier as Frost and Hale had suggested.”

The change Daylight Savings Time was cancelled two weeks after it was implemented.

As absurd as it may seem, it spoke volumes about the confidence of our community. Within four years, Daylight Savings would be adopted by nations around the world! We were ahead of our time! 

Frost should be remembered for something other than Daylight Savings Time.

  • When one hears the name Frost it may bring to mind The Honourable Leslie Frost, a former Premier of Ontario. Leslie Frost was the son of William Frost.
  • William Sword Frost was a founder of the Y.M.C.A., Soldiers Memorial Hospital, and his wife Margaret was a “pioneering force within the Salvation Army”.
  • “Known as the “Dean” of Orillia, businessman W.S. Frost was a solid member of the town’s middle class. Trained as a watchmaker and optometrist, he opened up a jewelry shop called S. Frost and Company, the current location of Town’s Jewellers at 51 Mississaga Street, East.
  • Our municipal motto of PROGRESS ORILIA was created by Mayor Frost and Council in 1912. It was very descriptive of our town. There were dozens of communities in the province with populations in excess of 10,000. Although, with a population of only 6,000, Orillia excelled among its peers.

The implementation of Daylight Savings Time in 1912 put Orillia on the map.

It got us on Jeopardy!


With Thanks To:

  • Orillia pioneered daylight time”, Orillia Today article published on March 21, 2019 written by Tom Villemaire
  • Bold Attempt at daylight saving time became a comic failure in Orillia”, Toronto Star journalist Katie Daubs (published July 8, 2017)