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Crazy Canadian laws

I’m guessing you think of yourself as a law-abiding citizen. You never park illegally, you pay your taxes on time and you would never consider robbing a bank. But, how do you know you’re on the right side of the law unless you know what the law is? I’ve taken a look at the back pages of the Canadian law book and found 10 crazy laws you probably never knew existed.

Cab drivers can’t wear t-shirts in Halifax, Nova Scotia

This one is easy to keep if you’re not a cabbie. But I pity the poor drivers who have to wear long shirts in the heat of summer. T-shirts are prohibited by the Regional Municipality Bylaws for Taxis and Limousines, item number 42 a). Instead, they must wear “neat and tidy” attire, which doesn’t include t-shirts.

No singing in Petrolia, Ontario

According to local bylaws, singing, whistling, hollering, yelling and shouting are banned at all times. Officials claim it’s to prevent excess noise at night, but Article 3, 772.3.6 stipulates that these things are prohibited at all times. Other restrictions on noise in the town mean that your dog isn’t allowed to bark and your tires can’t squeal.

No nickels!

Do you have a pile of nickels somewhere that you’re planning to spend? Well, make sure you don’t do it all at once because Canada’s Currency Act of 1985 forbids paying for anything over $5 in nickels. Better empty that coin jar on a regular basis!

Get rid of that clothesline

Now here’s an environmentalist’s nightmare – a ban on clotheslines, forcing everyone to use energy-sucking tumble driers. This is how it was in many Canadian neighbourhoods, where the lines were banned for aesthetic reasons, until laws like Nova Scotia’s Act to Prevent Prohibitions on the Use of Clotheslines came into force this century.

No tall snowmen in Souris, P.E.I.

This town claims to have the “friendliest folk around” but there’s one way to get on their bad side – building giant snowmen. If your house is on a corner, you can’t build a snowman that is higher than 30 inches. Don’t say you haven’t been warned!

I can’t believe it’s not butter!

In Ontario, the Oleomargarine Act made it illegal to sell butter-coloured margarine until 1995 because of pressure from dairy farmers. This law was never particularly enforced, unlike in Quebec where small batches were routinely seized. Margarine was banned altogether in Canada between 1886 and 1948, but there was a short lifting of the ban between 1917 and 1923.

Don’t attempt a dip in the Toronto Harbour

It’s not just trade that’s restricted by crazy laws – it’s your leisure activities too. If you wanted to swim in the Toronto Harbour, think again – the Canada Marine Act Operating Regulations forbid it, apart from designated areas. I certainly wouldn’t be taking a dip in the polluted waters either way!

No skinny dipping in Bancroft, Ontario

It’s not just Toronto where swimming is restricted. You can swim wherever you like in Bancroft as long as you have a bathing suit on! Skinny dipping is forbidden by a bylaw in this specific area.

Curfew in St. Pauls, Alberta

Meanwhile, in St Pauls it’s the kids who have to worry about the law. Young people of 15 and under are banned from public places between midnight and 6AM by bylaw #1018. If they’re found out after curfew, an officer can first warn them to go home and then escort them. Keep those kids off the streets, parents!

Don’t put a siren on your bike!

Sudbury, Ontario’s bylaw 776.3.16, forbids citizens from attaching a “siren or other artificial noise device other than a bell or horn” to their bike. So, in case you were planning on riding your bike to Sudbury and attaching a bike-siren to it, don’t. You might get a fine of $5,000.


Until next time,

Peace, love and vitamin C!



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