While many countries have had their fair share of bizarre, odd or outdated laws, Canada is no exception. Here are eight of some of the weirdest laws in Canadian history: These laws range from outdated regulations to community-specific bylaws that could leave you scratching your head.
Unlike many other weird laws in Canada lists on the internet (half of which are fake or have no evidence outside of a few blog posts like this to back them up), I’ve got what I think are the receipts…
1. No Comic Book Crime-Fighting
In the 1940s, the Criminal Code of Canada prohibited the printing, publishing, or distribution of comic books that depicted crime. This law was enacted, laughably, to protect children from the potentially “harmful influence” of crime-fighting heroes. It remained in effect until the 1970s when it was repealed. While the world has moved on and comic books have become mainstream, this peculiar law remains a testament to a time when the country was more paranoid about its children’s entertainment.
2. No Whistling in Petrolia
The town of Petrolia in Ontario had a bylaw that banned whistling or singing in public at any time. The reasoning behind this odd law was to maintain peace and quiet in the town. However, it is unclear how strictly this bylaw was enforced. While it might seem harmless, whistling or singing in public in Petrolia could have landed you in hot water with the local authorities.
3. No Purple Garage Doors
In the city of Kanata, Ontario, pre-amalgamation with Ottawa, it was illegal to paint your garage door purple. This peculiar law was created as part of the community’s design guidelines to maintain a uniform aesthetic in residential areas. While many homeowners enjoy expressing themselves through their home’s exterior, residents of Kanata must have chosen a different hue for their garage doors.
4. No Feeding Pigeons
In Victoria, British Columbia, feeding pigeons in public spaces is against the law. This bylaw is designed to curb the pigeon population and minimize the associated health risks and property damage that can occur due to their presence (poo). By discouraging people from feeding pigeons, the city aims to keep the environment cleaner and more enjoyable for everyone. I don’t disagree.
5. No Spitting on Sidewalks
In many Canadian cities, like Vancouver, spitting on sidewalks is considered a public nuisance and is punishable by fines. This law is intended to promote cleanliness and prevent the spread of diseases. Although it might seem like a common courtesy to avoid spitting in public, these bylaws emphasize the importance of maintaining a clean and hygienic environment for everyone.
6. No Attaching Coins to a String
Under the Canadian Criminal Code, attaching a coin to a string for the purpose of using it in a vending machine, coin-operated machine, or any other coin receptacle is illegal. This law is in place to prevent fraud and protect businesses from theft.
7. No Sales of Spray Paint to Minors
In the city of London, Ontario, there is (was?) a bylaw that prohibits the sale of spray paint to individuals under the age of 18. This law is in place to prevent vandalism and graffiti, which can result in property damage and costly cleanups for the city.
8. No Duelling
Before recently being repealed, Section 71 of the Canadian Criminal Code made it illegal to engage in a duel. Duelling was once a common way to resolve disputes but has long been considered archaic.
Jeff is a lawyer in Toronto who works for a technology startup. Jeff is a frequent lecturer on employment law and is the author of an employment law textbook and various trade journal articles. Jeff is interested in Canadian business, technology and law, and this blog is his platform to share his views and tips in those areas.