20 of the Most Ridiculous Laws Across Canada

Canada has had some ridiculous laws over its 150 years.  Some of them are outdated, and some you can tell are only against the law because one guy ruined it for the rest of us.

We have put together a list of the 20 most outrageous things you could be arrested for in Canada.  If you are doing any travelling be sure to check the list before you break any laws like building a snowman too tall, or whistling in Ontario. These are all laws you will see consistently pop up on crazy, dumb or ridiculous law listicles all over the internet. They range from the outright absurd to the ridiculously specific (and more than a few, sadly, aren’t actually true), but they’re all good for a yarn – especially if you don’t mind letting a few stretches of fact getting in the way of a good story.

1. It is illegal to steal oysters anywhere in Canada

It might sound far-fetched but there is actually an entire section in the Criminal Code that details the humane treatment of oysters. The law states that is illegal to steal oysters from oyster beds. Probably sounds fair enough on the surface, but slightly odd that there was the need to create a specific law to cover oysters in particular.

The law states, “where oysters and oyster brood are in oyster beds, layings or fisheries that are the property of any person and are sufficiently marked out or known as the property of that person, that person shall be deemed to have a special property or interest in them.” Source

A reasonable guess might be that oyster theft is rife across Canada but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Every now and then a significant case of Grand Theft Oyster crops up, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be endemic enough to warrant it’s own law.

The real reason is much less intriguing – it is simply a law inherited from 200-year old fishing regulation in Scotland.

2. To paint a wooden ladder, Alberta

Alberta’s 2009 Occupational Health and Safety Code states that:

126(1) Subject to subsection (2), a person must not paint a wooden ladder


This is because when a wooden ladder is painted it is much harder to see what condition it is in. The regulations allow for the ladder to be covered in a transparent coating instead.

3. Climbing a tree in Oshawa, Ontario

This isn’t one of those silly ones you might find on the rest of the list. The ‘kind-of but not really’ laws. There is a specific Oshawa by-law that states:

No person shall interfere with a tree or part of a tree located on municipal property, including but not limited to attaching, affixing or placing upon in any manner any object or thing to a tree or part of a tree, and climbing the tree.

By-law 78-2008 of The Corporation of the City of Oshawa

There isn’t a lot of information as to why this law might have come into place with one online source claiming it was to stop residents acting like wannabe Spidermen, although it is important to note that this only applies to trees on municipal property (something that most posts of this kind neglect to mention).

4. Setting fire to a wooden leg in Alberta

Another one for the column of, “Well, of course, but did they really need a specific law just for that?

The origin of this law is a little unclear. Google it and you will find it is ALL over the internet but very little context is given. It might date back to a section called ‘Looney (Canadian) Laws’ in Uncle John’s Triumphant 20th Anniversary Bathroom Reader.

Well apparently they did.

5. Exercising in a way that scares a horse without permission in BC

This bizarre law was sourced from the reliable tome “You Can’t Do That in Canada“. Is it true?

Probably not (can’t find it anywhere else) but hey… it’s in one book. Books can’t lie can they?

6. Wearing a t-shirt if you’re driving a taxi in Halifax.

It isn’t even that it is illegal to wear a t-shirt.

The municipal by-law states that:

[E]very driver while in control of a taxi or accessible taxi shall wear a shirt or military type blouse with a collar and sleeves (no T-shirts), ankle-length trousers, or dress shorts which are worn within at least three inches of the knee, socks and shoes, which clothing shall be in a neat and tidy condition at all times

Female taxi drivers are allowed to wear a skirt in place of ankle-length trousers.

One might think that this dress-code might not be so rigorously enforced but there have been stories about drivers being fined for not being properly dressed.

7. Dragging a dead horse down Yonge Street in Toronto on Sundays

This is one of those laws that sounds reasonable at first but gets more curious as it gets more specific. Of course, there is nothing that crazy about a law that stops people dragging dead horses down the street. But why just Yonge Street? And why just horses? And why specifically Sunday?

This law will come up whenever stories about weird by-laws come-up, however, this one seems to just be an urban myth. When CTVNews Canada made an enquiry about the law city staff said there was nothing so specific in the Toronto bylaws, nor anything in any of the six municipalities that originally formed Toronto.

Still though, that probably isn’t a green light to go dragging a dead horse down one of Toronto’s busiest streets. It just isn’t advised.

8. Walking downtown with your shoes untied in Fort Mc’Appelle, Quebec

This law is sourced form this article which in turn sources it from this article. It started to occur to us when researching the crazy laws of Canada that it was all just a bunch of list posts on blogs linking to each other.

Maybe Canada doesn’t even have any real laws at all?!

The closest thing we could get to confirmation was this quote from the Mayor of Fort Mc’Appelle saying that it may well be on the books but that he wasn’t going to make his staff check. Probably fair enough to be honest.

But that lack of certainty means you’re unlikely to ever get charged with the law. If it does exist it seems like it wouldn’t be without precedent – Portland has a similar law about walking down the street with shoes untied.

9. Buying non-prescription contact lenses in Calgary, Alberta

10. Eating ice cream along Bank street Ottawa on Sunday

11. Drawing Crime Comics anywhere in Canada

12. Having more than 3.5 inches of water in your bathtub in Etobicoke, Ontario

13. Building a snowman taller than 30 inches in Souris, PEI

14. Having more than two colours of paint on your house in Beaconsfield, Quebec

15. Whistling in Petrolia, Ontario

16. Swearing in French in Montreal

17. Letting go of more than ten helium balloons within 24 hours in Toronto

18. Carrying a snake in public in Fredericton, New Brunswick

19. Scaring the Queen of England… ever.

Author: Daily Ting