Canadian bilingual time zone names

Paul Eggert eggert at
Wed Nov 16 18:46:11 UTC 1994

I enclose below (with permission) copies of Usenet articles written by
Alain LaBont<e'>, which cover the Canadian standard for multilingual
time zone names.  (I've told him about the tz tables.)

At first I thought I'd propose to duplicate all the Canadian Zone and
Rule lines, one copy for English and one copy for French.  But now I'm
not so sure, since this practice would greatly balloon the tables if
we did it for all multilingual locations.  The topic of multilingual
time zone names seems to have slipped through the standardization
cracks, since the LC_TIME environment variable doesn't address this issue.

One way out of the problem would be to extend the syntax of the TZ
environment variable to allow optional specification of the names of
the standard and daylight zone names before the name of the file.
E.g. `TZ=America/Halifax,HNA,HAA' for people in
<I^>les-de-la-Madeleine who want French time zone names.  This is a
bit of a hack, since it doesn't address the issue of double-daylight
zone names, or changes in zone names over time, but it may be the most
practical solution.

Another way would be to extend LC_TIME somehow to cover time zone names.
This sounds less plausible to me, since there are dozens of time
zones and most locales don't care about names of time zones on the
other side of the planet.

From: ALB at
Date: 14 Nov 1994 14:39:23 -0500
Message-ID: <3a8edb$781 at senator-bedfellow.MIT.EDU>

Now as promised, I post here the time zone abbreviations standardized in Canada
for both English and French in CAN/CSA-Z234.4-89 standard (I have added notes
and corrected minor typos still in the standard/ the abbreviations and numeric
and alphabetic time zones are correct in the standard, what I corrected would
not change any technical content).

               Table A2 - Canadian Time Zones Abbreviations
                          (Abr<e'>viations des fuseaux horaires pour le Canada)

               Standard Time       Daylight Saving Time     ITU Designator

Hours West     French    English   French    English
of UTC         HN-       -ST       HA-       -DT

2-1/2          -         -         HAT       NDT            -
3              -         -         HAA       ADT            P
3-1/2          HNT       NST       -         -              -
4              HNA       AST       HAE       EDT            Q
5              HNE       EST       HAC       CDT            R
6              HNC       CST       HAR       MDT            S
7              HNR       MST       HAP       PDT            T
8              HNP       PST       HAY       YDT            U
9              HNY       YST       -         -              V

HN stands for "Heure normale"/HA stands for "Heure avanc<e'>e"
ST stands for "Standard Time"/DT stands for "Dailight saving Time"

Prefix/Suffix meaning (note from ALB: I added the appropriate prepositions and
                       articles "du, de l', des, de" for non-French speakers,
                       so that the information of the standard be completed
                       for them - this data is not in any version of the std.):

A: Atlantic/de l'Atlantique
C: Central/du Centre
E: Eastern/de l'Est
M: Mountain           (note from ALB: see R for French)
N: Newfoundland       (note from ALB: see T for French)
P: Pacific/du Pacifique
R: des Rocheuses      (note from ALB: see M for English)
T: de Terre-Neuve     (note from ALB: see N for English)
Y: Yukon/du Yukon

Note: The standard says (I cite the English version textually): "Although there
is no ISO standard on time zone designators, the letters given in table A1 have
been adopted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU/[UIT in
French]), a UN ["Nations Unies" in the French version, normally abbreviated
ONU] special agency having the status of treaty organization regarding radio
operations and regulations.

Within North America the abbreviations given in table A2 are also used."

The standard also deals with all-numeric dates and times (Repr<e'>sentation
num<e'>rique de la date et de l'heure). I invite those who want
non-time-zone-related information on this subject to buy the standard from CSA
(Canadian Standards Association/Association canadienne de normalisation) sales
offices throughout the world.

I only cited here the full table A2. Table A1 starts with Z for UTC, goes from
A to M East of UTC (with M as a half-zone) and N to Y West of UTC (with Y as a
half-zone); the Newfoundland half-zone does not seem covered by ITU/UIT,
despite it is on the soil where the first transatlantic (first long range) radio
transmissions were done by Marconi. Quarter zones are not covered either by
ITU, even if this does not affect Canada, but certain countries.

I also think that what would be good to document would be the dates on which
standard and daylight-saving time changes are done throughout the world. I have
not found that data in any place. I think it can *not* be done only on ITU
designators, as it has to take into account at least Northern/Sourthern
hemisphere and even national/multinational conventions and laws (for example,
this fall, Britain, Europe and North America have all switched to Standard Time
at different dates [3 dates...], sometimes at weeks of interval !!!) For other
countries it is quite problematic... from time to time, laws change too.
Perhaps there is a need for a worldwide registration authority for that

Alain LaBont<e'>
Gouvernement du Qu<e'>bec
Secr<e'>tariat du Conseil du tr<e'>sor
Service de la prospective et de la francisation

----------- end of message 1
----------- start of message 2

Objet   : Mnemonics for the ITU assigned time zone codes...
Envoyeur: RNET (ALB at
Date    : 11/15/94
Time    : 21:17

It is interesting to note that there is a mnemonic way to remember the time
zone codes attributed by ITU for North America.

Q applies to at least one of the two time zones of Quebec at any time of the
year (Eastern Daylight Time in the summer, Atlantic Standard Time in the
winter). Remember "Quebec in the summer", the most beautiful time of the
year... For R, remember "Rivi<e`>re-du-loup West of the Atlantic": (see below)

4              HNA       AST       HAE       EDT            Q
5              HNE       EST       HAC       CDT            R

FYI: Atlantic time zone used to begin West in Rivi<e`>re-du-loup when I was a
teenager (to respect exact time zone calculations that divides the world into 24
equal parts). For convenience, all continental Quebec is on Eastern Time all
the time now while the Atlantic Time Zone, because it is quite far East,
applies to <I^>les-de-la-Madeleine, which is predominently-French-speaking
Quebec even if you have to cross 2 other provinces (NB and PEI) to access it
(it was populated by deported Acadians, and more recently by St.Pierrans and
Miqueloners [from "neighbouring" St-Pierre-et-Miquelon, France]). On the
continent, in Canada, you cross the Eastern zone to the Atlantic zone when you
cross the bridge between Quebec and New Brunswick (between Matap<e'>dia and

Interesting to note also that in the aviation jargon worldwide, the letter Q is
pronounced Quebec (ALPHA... BRAVO... ... QUEBEC ... TANGO ... ZULU). When
taking my first flight lessons at the Quebec airport in the eighties, I was
puzzled about why they were identifying the control tower by "QUEBEC
BRAVO" ("Why were they adding BRAVO?", I did not know... at the second lesson I
heard it was the standard way of identifying the airport, whose code is
YQB! [Y is for Canada and is obvious, it seems])

Z (i.e. ZULU) is assigned to UTC time zone (i.e. the time zone whose centre is
at the Greenwich Observatory Meridian).

Alain LaBont<e'>
Gouvernement du Qu<e'>bec
Secr<e'>tariat du Conseil du tr<e'>sor
Service de la prospective et de la francisation

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