The Bizarro Laws Keeping Canada Weird
When it comes to unusual, eyebrow-raising laws, Canada is second to none
[Initially published on Passport2017.ca on May 25, 2017]
You have to admit that from an outsider’s perspective, Canada must look pretty weird. Cases in point: The Littlest Hobo, Passe-Partout, the UFO landing pad in St. Paul, Alberta, the big lobster in Shediac, New Brunswick, the fact that thousands of Canadian kids send letters to the HOH OHO postal code in the North Pole every December. This is but a handful of the many manifestations of our national quirks, which raises a fair question: Is Canada even real?
Ironically enough, this very question is more popular on Google than “Is the tooth fairy real,” according to author and cultural critic J.C. Villamere, whose interest in Canadian quirk is undeniable. She recently penned Is Canada even real?, a “nostalgia trip and a fun Canadian history lesson” highlighting our weirdness at every turn. Villamere isn’t the only one exploring our puzzling past this year: Canadaland publisher Jesse Brown, along with co-authors Vicky Mochama and Nick Zarzycki, takes aim at the full spectrum of Canadian society in The Canadaland Guide to Canada.
Brown also turns his focus to another thing keeping Canada weird: Our antiquated legal system. This week, Global News rounded up nine of the country’s oddest laws and the sentences inflicted on those who broke them. (Hint: You do not want to get caught selling your home-brewed ale.) Some are pretty funny, if not downright perplexing.
Since ignorance of the law excuses no one, we’ve highlighted a few of our favourites — lest you unknowingly commit a felony:
- Never pretend to practice witchcraft (it’s cool if you’re an actual witch with magical powers, though).
- Feel like getting some ice cream on a hot Sunday in Ottawa? Fine, just not on Bank Street.
- Don’t even think about sneaking up on the Queen.
- It’s illegal to whistle in Petrolia, Ontario — please curb your enthusiasm.
- Snowmen in Souris, P.E.I, may not be taller than 30 inches.
- No ladder is to be painted in Alberta.
- You may not challenge someone to a duel, nor accept another person’s invitation to do so.
- You may drag your dead horse along Yonge Street in Toronto, except on Sundays.
- Speaking of horses, Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth hotel is legally obligated to feed your steed, free of charge, if you decide to stay there.
- And in Wawa, Ontario, no public display of affection is allowed on Sundays.
The vast majority of these eccentric decrees are no longer enforced, thankfully — a cop fining someone for whistling would be swiftly ridiculed. However, they do speak volumes about the colourful and uneven patchwork that is our legislative history.
But could someone actually be prosecuted for breaking these laws today? Toronto lawyer Sean Robichaud broke down the plausibility for Global: “With something like that you may have a particular political movement get into power, and then they start prosecuting on these sorts of things. Then it’s no longer a joke, because that otherwise unused law can be used.”
Let’s hope the current officials in Wawa are comfortable with you holding your significant other’s hand.