It’s a situation not many people besides those who have lived in Newfoundland understand. Traveling to somewhere outside of the Newfoundland time zone and finding it odd to see TV shows starting “on the hour”.
That’s because in Newfoundland, we have our very own time zone. It’s one of only a few in the world to differ by half an hour.
This means that most of the TV programming piped in from other areas, which is meant to start on the hour, actually ends up beginning at a time ending in :30 on the island.
Normally when crossing other time zones, they increase or decrease is by one-hour increments. Not in the Newfoundland Standard Time Zone!
The Newfoundland Time Zone
Prior to joining Canada, the Dominion of Newfoundland had the right to adopt a time zone. We opted to create our own. While most of the island of Newfoundland is west of the exact meridian where a half-hour timezone would fall, the capital city of St. John’s, where most of the population resides, is almost exactly on the line. Since it’s arguably at the halfway mark, a half-timezone was born.
The Newfoundland Time Zone subtracts 3.5 hours from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) during standard time, (UTC−03:30) and 2.5 hours during daylight saving time. Most Newfoundlanders are most familiar with their time zone in relation to the Eastern Time Zone. This zone includes large Canadian cities such as Toronto and Montreal, which we’re 90 minutes ahead of. TV shows and sports available to watch in Newfoundland are almost always broadcast from a feed based in Eastern Time. So, we’ve got to do the math in our heads! Our time is sometimes overlooked by foreign organizations, but the NHL’s website actually allows you to display game times in NST!
To make things more interesting, part of the province of Newfoundland & Labrador doesn’t even observe Newfoundland time.
While the official province name is Newfoundland & Labrador, it is common to refer to the island portion as just “Newfoundland” since it does not geographically include Labrador.
Only the island of Newfoundland along with a small portion of southeastern Labrador actually the Newfoundland Time Zone. The remainder of Labrador joins the rest of Atlantic Canada in observing Atlantic Time.
The First in North America
The Newfoundland time zone is 90 minutes ahead of Eastern time, and 30 minutes ahead of Atlantic Time. Because of this, Newfoundland is the first place in North America to ring in the New Year and premiere certain TV programs. That is, if you don’t count Greenland as part of North America.
This is why mainland-originating TV commercials are often heard advertising “8:00, 8:30 in Newfoundland”. Interestingly, programming which originates from local TV or radio stations such as CBC will usually say “8:00, 7:30 in most of Labrador.”
Whether you prefer to sit back and relax, get out and explore, or both, you’ll love being on Newfoundland time.