5 Strange Canadian Laws You’ve Never Heard Of

Think you’re a law-abiding citizen? It’s possible you’ve broken one of these strange Canadian laws without even realizing it.

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13 strange Canadian laws you've never heard of
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Think you’re a law-abiding Canadian?

You’d be surprised to learn what’s against the law in Canada. For example, in 2012, a Toronto businessman found that to sell edible underwear in his “adult entertainment” store, he’d need a food license. The bylaw was later overturned, but there are plenty more quirky Canadian laws you probably didn’t know about. Here’s a small sampling of the infractions that could get you into hot water in certain parts of the country.

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Strange Canadian laws about liquor
Brett Walther

Keep your booze at home

According to the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act (which dates back to the time of prohibition and bootleggers), you can only legally move a bottle of booze from one province to another with the permission of the provincial liquor control board. The situation changed on May 28th, 2012, allowing you to legally move wine, but little else. Guess your moonshining days are over, eh boys?

Find out what could happen if you didn’t fill out the census.

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Strange Canadian laws about change
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Don’t pay with too much change!

While it won’t make you a law-breaker, according to Canada’s Currency Act of 1985, there are limits to the number of coins you can use in a transaction. Now that we’ve put the kibosh on the old penny, are you accumulating nickels? If it’s nickels, vendors can say no to any purchase over $5, while the loonie limit is $25.

Want to see Canada’s largest loonie? Look no further than our round-up of the biggest roadside attractions.

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Strange Canadian laws about pop
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It was illegal for non-dark soft drinks to contain caffeine

It used to be the case that Sprite, Mountain Dew and other non-dark soft drinks couldn’t contain caffeine, but that all changed in March 2010 with the advent of “energy drinks” like Redbull. Now you can have caffeine in soft drinks like orange and grape soda—but there is a limit, and it’s still lower than colas.

Test your knowledge on more quirky facts with our great Canadian trivia quiz.

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Strange Canadian laws about margarine
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Get your margarine out of here!

Few may remember this, but thanks to lobbying by dairy farmers it was illegal to sell butter-coloured margarine in Ontario until 1995. In fact, margarine was altogether banned in Canada from 1886 to 1948. (There was a brief reprieve during the First World War).

Check out the funniest (true) headlines from across the country.

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Strange Canadian Laws Toronto Lakeview
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You can’t just jump in the lake in Toronto

According to the Toronto Port Authority, you can’t swim anywhere in the harbour that has not been designated as a swimming area by the City of Toronto. So, if you’re out on a boat and want to cool off, keep this in mind. Historically, there was also a law that you couldn’t swim in Toronto Harbour in “less than-seemly” attire. Travel writer Mark Stevens pointed out this bylaw allowed police to ticket skinny dippers when the beach at Hanlon’s Point on the Toronto Islands gained popularity as a nude beach. That bylaw has been updated in recent years, and you can now officially swim in the buff if you are at the nude section of the beach.

Now that you know about the strangest Canadian laws, find out if it’s really illegal to pick trilliums.

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