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10 Weird Canadian Laws

Have you ever read a list of weird Canadian laws and wondered if they’re actually real? Well, we did the fact-checking for you, so you can make sure you’re a good, law-abiding citizen while having a nice chuckle at the same time.

Myths 

There are many myths that you will see on nearly every list of weird Canadian laws, three of them are:

  1. It is illegal to paint your garage door purple in Ottawa.
  2. It is illegal to drag a dead horse down Yonge Street on Sundays. 
  3. It is illegal to remove a bandage in public.

Just to be clear, none of these have ever been real Canadian laws. Now, dragging a dead horse around will still get you in trouble with the police, but not because you’re dragging it down Yonge Street on a Sunday.

Repealed 

In 2018, four famously weird laws were repealed by the Canadian government:

  1. Acts intended to alarm the queen were punishable of up to fourteen years imprisonment. (laws.justice.gc.ca)
  2. Pretending to practise witchcraft. (laws.justice.gc.ca)
  3. Making, printing, selling, distributing, or holding in your possession, a crime comic. (laws.justice.gc.ca)
  4. Duelling, including challenging someone and accepting a challenge to a duel, and attempting to provoke someone else to fight in a duel. (laws.justice.gc.ca)

Rest in peace and thank you for giving us a good laugh while you were still part of the criminal code.

Still In Effect 

  1. It’s Illegal to Paint a Wooden Ladder in Alberta 

Apparently, it’s a safety issue as it could cover up damage that if unfixed will lead to injury. But you can still preserve it with transparent protective coating. (Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Code.)

  1. Toronto Park By-Laws 

According to the Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 608, Parks, it’s an offense to swear, throw things, which includes playing catch, and release helium filled balloons in a Toronto park. 

  1. Too Many Coins

Canada’s Currency Act under Legal Tender, Limitation, states a limit on the number of coins that you can use to pay for something. So, if you were wanting to pay for a $30.00 shirt using only dimes, the vendor has the right to refuse your payment.

  1. Scare a Child or Sick Person to Death 

Canada’s Criminal Code (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46), Homicide, states that willfully frightening a child or sick person, resulting in their death is an act of culpable homicide.

  1. Farm Animals Banned at National Parks 

In the Canada National Parks Act, under National Parks of Canada Domestic Animals Regulations, it states that most animals, including farm animals, are banned from visiting national parks. Except sometimes llamas are allowed if you have a permit.

  1. Two Garage Sales Per Year 

In Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 480, Garage Sales, it states that you are allowed to hold no more than two garage sales in a year.

  1. An Innkeeper Can Sell Your Horse 

The Ontario Innkeepers Act, R.S.O, 1990, Chapter 1.7, includes allowing an innkeeper to auction off all of your belongings should you fail to pay your accommodation fee, and also includes its own section on when innkeepers are within their right to sell your horse.

  1. Two Sleigh Bells 

As highlighted in the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O, 1990, Chapter H.8, Part 6: Equipment, if you are travelling down a highway by sleigh or sled, be sure to have attached at least two bells to your horse’s harness so that other drivers can hear you coming. If you don’t do this, you are liable to a fine of $5.00.

  1. No Excess Odours 

In Edmonton, the Excessive Odours and Emissions by-law allows people to report if their neighbours are emitting any foul odours or disruptive airborne emissions from their property. But the title alone makes it sound like you can tattle on your neighbour if they’ve gone too many days without a shower.

  1. Crash Axe 

705.92 No person shall operate an aircraft unless a crash axe is carried on board the aircraft. (Canadian Aviation Regulations)

A crash axe is intended for use if excessive force is required during an evacuation due to a crash. But the way it’s written is somehow both blunt and vague at the same time.

Lauren Schwartz | Staff Writer

Winter 2023

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