Canadian Knife Laws are one of the most vague things I’ve ever read. I’ve spent a bit of time researching this subject, but keep in mind this is in no way, shape, or form, legal advice*. Every province, municipality, city, police officer, and court may have different views when it comes to this subject. Luckily Canada has updated their online resources to include an actual list of prohibited weapons, rather than leaving it open for guessing.
prohibited weapon means
(a) a knife that has a blade that opens automatically by gravity or centrifugal force or by hand pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in or attached to the handle of the knife…
Canadian Knife Laws
What You Can’t Carry
Canada has recently updated the information online to actually state what is illegal to import and posses in Canada [source]. Here’s the list:
- automatic knives such as switchblades;
- centrifugal knives such as flick knives or butterfly knives;
- gravity knives;
- mace or pepper spray designed for use on humans;
- nunchaku sticks (nunchucks);
- shuriken (throwing stars);
- manrikigusari or kusari (fighting chains);
- finger rings with blades or other sharp objects projecting from the surface;
- Taser and stun guns shorter than 480 mm;
- crossbows designed for one-handed use;
- crossbows 500 mm or shorter;
- Constant Companion (belt-buckle knife);
- push daggers;
- devices shorter than 30 cm concealing a knife blade (e.g. knife-comb);
- spiked wristbands;
- Kiyoga or Steel Cobra batons (spring batons);
- spring-loaded rigid batons (triggered by a button or lever);
- morning stars; and
- brass knuckles.
With that said, it’s also illegal to conceal any knife and with the intent to harm. This include self-defense! More details below.
Canadian Knife Laws
What You Can Carry
Anything other than the above. There are no limits on length. BUT, and this is a big but, the knife you carry must only be used as a tool (a.k.a. utility knife, hunting knife WHEN HUNTING, etc.). As stated above it do not conceal or have the intent to cause harm; this includes self defense!
This law is about intent. This means if you’re caught with a knife that’s concealed on your person while in a location you don’t require a knife to be used as a tool, you may be in for a bad time.
Example, walking through a dark alley at night with a utility knife in your pocket for protection sounds like a good idea. However if an officer of the law stops you and finds it, they can easily conclude there is no other reason for you to have it except for the intent to cause harm to another person.
Furthermore, this also means you can be charged with assault with a weapon even when defending yourself. Why, because the intent to use it for such an occasion is there before you even stepped out from your house.
Of course if you buy a set of kitchen knives or a sword to hang on your wall, that’s okay. But you wouldn’t be concealing those anyway or walking around in dark alleys at night with your shopping bags. I hope.
Daniel on JustAnswer.com has a perfect analogy for this,
Your belt is a weapon if you hit someone with it. If you are just walking around with a belt, it is obviously no offence. However, if you intentionally conceal your belt and intend to use it as a weapon (both of which the prosecutor must prove) then that would be an offence under section 90, as crazy as it sounds.
Anything can be considered a weapon in Canada when the intent to use it as a weapon is there.
Canadian Knife Laws
Don’t be dumb. Seriously. Don’t import or get your hands on any of the prohibited weapons in the list above, don’t conceal, and don’t have the intent to cause harm, threaten, or scare others. Use a knife as a tool and tool only.
kage258 on the Blade Forums puts it nicely,
As a general rule of thumb, carrying a fixed blade in its sheath on one’s hip while going to or coming from work would not be seen as an offence (barring local provincial statutes, municipal bylaws,) providing its length and design would not be seen or construed as intimidating (such as a “Rambo” knife.) However carrying the same knife in the same manner while going out to the movies, or to the pub, or just being out & about, could be seen as unjustifiable and could be interpreted negatively by local authorities, leading to confiscation and/or charges.
Sources if you’d like to read more and visit forum discussions:
- Blade Forums – “Canadian Law Knife Specifics”
- Blade Forums – “Canada knife carry: ILLEGAL. EVERYTHING.”
- Blade Forums – ” Knife Laws for fixed blade daggers in Ontario Canada?”
- Reddit – “Canada Knife laws?”
- Legal Beagle – “Knife Laws in Canada”
- Spyderco Forums – “Knife laws in Canada”
- Army.ca – “Question on legal knife length in Canada”