Canada has a large land area, and the time zones were established in order to ensure that all parts of the country have a consistent and convenient local time. The time zones in Canada were chosen based on a variety of factors, including geographic location, political boundaries, and transportation and communication needs.
In general, time zones in Canada are centered around the longitude of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, which is the basis for Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). However, some adjustments have been made to the boundaries of the time zones in order to account for the specific needs and characteristics of each region. For example, the time zone boundaries in Nunavut were chosen to ensure that each community in the territory has a convenient local time, and the time zone boundaries in Quebec were adjusted to account for the unique geography of the James Bay and Hudson Bay regions.
Time and Time Zone Lookup
Enter a place to look up the current time & and time zone:
Click here to view a Time Zone map.
Time Zones in Canada
Canada has six time zones. From east to west, they are:
- Newfoundland Time Zone (UTC-03:30 hours) – NST: 2:30 p.m.
- Atlantic Time Zone (UTC-04:00 hours) – AST: 3:00 p.m.
- Eastern Time Zone (UTC-05:00 hours) – EST: 4:00 p.m.
- Central Time Zone (UTC-06:00 hours) – CST: 5:00 p.m.
- Mountain Time Zone (UTC-07:00 hours) – MST: 6:00 p.m.
- Pacific Time Zone (UTC-08:00 hours) – PST: 7:00 p.m.
Note: The local time listed above is based on the assumption that it is currently 12:00 noon Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
During Daylight Saving Time (DST), the local time in each of these time zones is one hour ahead of the Standard Time. For example, during DST, the local time in the Eastern Time Zone would be 5:00 p.m. instead of 4:00 p.m.
Provincial Time Zones in Canada
The provinces and territories of Canada are divided among these time zones as follows:
- Newfoundland Time Zone: Newfoundland and Labrador
- Atlantic Time Zone: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and most of Quebec (except for a small area around Estrie)
- Eastern Time Zone: Ontario (except for the western part of the province), most of Quebec (in the area around Estrie), and Nunavut (in the Kitikmeot Region and the Qikiqtaaluk Region)
- Central Time Zone: Manitoba, Nunavut (in the Kivalliq Region), Ontario (in the western part of the province), Saskatchewan, and most of Quebec (in the area around James Bay and Hudson Bay)
- Mountain Time Zone: Alberta, British Columbia (except for the area around the Kitimat-Stikine Region), Nunavut (in the Qikiqtaaluk Region), and the Northwest Territories
- Pacific Time Zone: British Columbia (in the area around the Kitimat-Stikine Region), the Yukon, and the Kitimat-Stikine Region of the Northwest Territories
Facts about time and time zones in Canada
- Canada is one of the few countries in the world that observes Daylight Saving Time (DST). During DST, the clock is turned ahead by one hour in the spring and turned back by one hour in the fall. DST is observed in most parts of Canada, although some areas (such as most of Saskatchewan) do not observe DST.
- Canada has the longest coastline of any country in the world, which means that it has many small communities that are isolated from the rest of the country. These communities often have to adopt their own local time, which may be different from the time in the rest of the country.
- Canada is the only country in the world where the time changes twice in the same year in some parts of the country. This happens in the small area of Quebec that lies east of 63° west longitude, which includes the communities of Blanc-Sablon and Kegaska. In this area, the clock is turned ahead by one hour in the spring and fall but not turned back in the fall. This means that the time in this area is one hour ahead of the rest of the Eastern Time Zone for part of the year.
- Canada is home to the longest undefended border in the world, which separates it from the United States. The time zone boundary between Canada and the United States follows the border for most of its length, with the exception of a small area in eastern Quebec, where the border follows a diagonal line. This means that the time on one side of the border may differ from the time on the other, even though the two areas are only a few miles apart.
History of the Canadian time zones
The time zones in Canada have evolved over time as the country’s transportation and communication needs have changed.
The first time zones in Canada were established by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885. The railway divided the country into four time zones based on the longitude of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England. These time zones were:
- Eastern Time (based on 75° west longitude)
- Central Time (based on 90° west longitude)
- Mountain Time (based on 105° west longitude)
- Pacific Time (based on 120° west longitude)
In 1908, the Dominion Observatory in Ottawa was established, and it became the official timekeeping authority for Canada. The observatory divided the country into five time zones based on the longitude of the observatory. These time zones were:
- Newfoundland Time (based on 52°30′ west longitude)
- Atlantic Time (based on 67°30′ west longitude)
- Eastern Time (based on 82°30′ west longitude)
- Central Time (based on 97°30′ west longitude)
- Mountain Time (based on 112°30′ west longitude)
- Pacific Time (based on 127°30′ west longitude)
In the decades that followed, the time zones in Canada were further refined and adjusted to account for each region’s specific needs and characteristics. For example, in 1966, the time zone boundaries in Quebec were adjusted to account for the unique geography of the James Bay and Hudson Bay regions. In the 1980s, the time zone boundaries in Nunavut were established to ensure that each community in the territory had a convenient local time.
Today, the time zones in Canada are set by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The CRTC has the authority to adjust the time zone boundaries in Canada as needed, although such adjustments are rare.
Time Zone Map of the World
Time zone maps are used to represent the different time zones around the world on a world map. These maps show the boundaries of the different time zones and indicate the local time in each time zone.
Time zone maps are often color-coded to make it easy to see which time zone a particular location belongs to. For example, on a time zone map, all of the locations in a particular time zone might be shown in the same color.
Time zone maps can be useful for people who need to know the local time in different parts of the world. For example, if you are planning a conference call or video chat with people in different time zones, a time zone map can help you figure out what time it will be in each location when the call takes place.
Time zone maps can also be useful for people who are planning to travel to different parts of the world, as they can help you understand the time difference between your home and your destination.
Please share this Canadian Time Zone page if you found it helpful!