If you had to peg the Great White North with one prevailing personality trait, it’d have to be politeness. Isn’t that the old joke? You can bump into a Canadian person, and they’ll apologize to you for not watching where you were going. Sure, on an international level, the country has a reputation for subdued politeness, but as with any other nation, inside Canada’s border are a selection of people that run the gamut from intrepid to silly, foolish to brilliant (they invented Trivial Pursuit, you know). As a result, some Canadian laws reflect that incredible diversity. Here are some of the unique statutes that travelers might experience while in Canada.
1. Protect Our Impressionable Nerds
In Canada, they’re so dead set on keeping the public thinking happy thoughts that the country has outlawed any comic book which depicts an illegal act. And since vigilantism is illegal everywhere in the known universe, the law applies to pretty much every modern comic book. So, technically, Avengers and Spider-Man comics are unlawful inside Canada. Don’t worry, though, the last time someone was indicted behind the law was 1987 (and those charges were eventually changed).
2. Technology Won’t Change Canada (At Least for Awhile)
One Canadian law prohibits residents in the country from having an internet connection faster than 56k. To put that in perspective, the laws means that dial-up is the fastest a Canadian internet is allowed to be. Fortunately, that’s an archaic rule, as the Canadian government has since declared that high-speed broadband internet was a fundamental right of the people. It’s like the exact opposite of the repeal of net neutrality.
3. Preserving the Wonder of Nature
A niche group of travelers flock to British Columbia every year in search of the mythical Sasquatch. Some are there to tromp through the Canadian province and take in the majesty of the country, and some are there to hunt Bigfoot seriously. Either way, the authorities in British Columbia have already taken steps to avoid trouble. Poaching a Sasquatch in B.C is illegal. So don’t even try it.
4. Don’t Feed the Street Performers
In Victoria, BC, there are several beautiful attractions. Stroll through Beacon Hill Park, visit the Canadian coast, or wander through one of the gorgeously-curated tourist areas. If you run across one of the city’s street entertainers, however, don’t expect to take home any balloons. It’s illegal for entertainers to give balloon animals to children.
5. Keep it Clean and Respect Your International Neighbors
Keeping it civil in public is one thing. For example, there’s a law on the books in Canada that prohibits relieving yourself in public. That’s undoubtedly for the best. However, visitors to the country should also know that there’s another mandate that makes it illegal to spit on the street, too. Some people may find that particular statute restrictive, but most people shouldn’t get too hot and bothered by, you know, having to swallow.
6. Please Keep Quiet in Petrolia, Canada
For nearly twenty years — from 1990 to 2009 — the town of Petrolia in Ottawa was proud of its particularly odd noise pollution ordinance. The city explicitly banned, “Yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling or singing,” in public. In 2009, however, the statute was amended to restrict noise offenders to those people making a ruckus “for the purposes of selling or advertising.” Nothing wrong with that Canadian law.
7. Explaining the Juno Awards
Ever wondered how it is that Canada has such a thriving music industry when the US is doing its thing right next door? For example, how do the Tenors have careers, exactly? Well, that’s due to legislation that mandates that 35 percent of the content on Canadian radio stations be “Canadian Content.” Which explains why the Juno Awards still count for quite a bit.
8. Wait, What Clear Beverages Have Caffeine?
For some time, there was a law on the books in Canada that prohibited caffeine in any clear or non-dark soda from containing caffeine, which kind of made this rule the “anti-Mountain Dew amendment.” Put in that context, this rule may be for the betterment of society. Too bad it was repealed.
9. Observe the Trees in Oshawa, Don’t Fiddle With Them
From the coast to its sweeping pastoral fields, Oshawa, Canada is about as pretty as it gets. The town is committed to preserving its natural bounty, and they’re willing to put laws on the books to make it happen. For example, in Oshawa, “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.” You can do what you want with your trees, but stay clear of those planted in parks.
10. Get to Shoveling
When you live in a country that averages about 60 inches of snowfall per year, you’d expect the government to have a fleet of shovelers and plows at the ready. They do, but while those municipal employees got to work, Canadian citizens are also expected to pitch in. Both home and business owners are responsible for clearing the snow off the sidewalks in front of their place. You could be looking at some stiff fines if you fail to get your shovel out.
11. Bicycle Safety Is the Priority
If you have a few hours to kill in the city of Ottawa, you should take the time to rent a bike and ride around for a bit. While you’re pedaling, though, make sure to stay safe, or you could be looking at a hefty fine. In Ottawa, it’s illegal to take your feet off the pedals while you’re on a bike. It’s also not a smart decision.
12. The Traveler-Friendly City
According to one archaic law, it’s illegal to impersonate a foreigner in Quebec. That’s great news for travelers who might be a little self-conscious when visiting a province where nearly 80 percent of the population speaks French as a first language. So, when visiting Quebec, learn a few French phrases and don’t be afraid to try them out without fear of being mocked.
13. There Is No Ding Dong Ditch
In Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, they fully support keeping the public peace. Anyone who knocks on a door or rings a doorbell with the intention of irritating someone inside is breaking the law. So, when you travel to the gorgeous island, make sure that you’re doing your part to help the residents enjoy your presence as opposed to resenting it.