It came as a shock to many when three ties during the recent municipal elections in two Alberta towns were decided with a draw from a hat.
Yes, the long respected principles of democracy as part of our foundations as a modern society and civilized nation were embodied by one piece of paper being pulled from a hat by an Elections Alberta official.
John Walker and Jim Gomuwka both ran for a seat on council in Edson and both received 727 votes. Both names were put in a hat - only Walker's came out.
The same occurred in two divisions in Red Deer County. In one of the divisions, two candidates got 288 votes, while in the other, two contenders garnered 328 votes.
Again, the hat came out, the names went in and, voila, Red Deer County had two new councillors.
For some, it was offensive. For many, it was just plain weird. For all, it's the law.
"If a tie determines who is elected or not, the retuning officer writes the names of those candidates on separate pieces of paper and 'draws a name from a hat.' The name on the withdrawn paper is considered to receive one more vote," states Alberta's Local Authorities Election Act.
But this very real law is only one of many strange statutes that are currently in the province's law books today, or that adorned those legal pages in the past.
The province, as well as municipalities within it, have passed laws in the past that may seem absolutely archaic in modern times. Some are still active in the dusty corners of city halls and legislatures, but long since enforced, such as that which prohibits throwing snowballs in Calgary.
Others have long been retired, such as the law that made it illegal for men and women to drink together in public. Yep, that one was around as recently as the late 60s.
And then there are some that only fit in modern times, such as the law that tells you what you can't do in your RV while within the town of Jasper.
Click through the slideshow below for some of the strangest, weirdest and odd Alberta laws.
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This is ILLEGAL in Edmonton
All bicycle riders in Edmonton must signal with the arm before making a turn. However, a previous <a href="http://www.skrause.org/humor/stupidlaws.shtml" target="_blank">clause in the bylaw states </a>bicycle riders must keep "both hands on the handlebars at all times." Go ahead, try it.
Now, see this?
Until 1967, this was so illegal in Edmonton.
It is illegal for a man to drink with a woman in an Edmonton beer parlour in Alberta
Although this <a href="http://www.skrause.org/humor/stupidlaws.shtml" target="_blank">was the law in more than a few municipalities </a>across the province, this was still the case in Edmonton until 1967. The <a href="http://www.calgarysun.com/2012/02/03/the-dirty-and-thirsty-history-of-albertas-prohibition-era" target="_blank">law originally came into effect in 1927</a>.
See that? Yeah, you can't do that
Standing, climbing on public things is illegal in Calgary
<a href="http://www.calgary.ca/CA/city-clerks/Documents/Legislative-services/Bylaws/54m2006-PublicBehaviour.pdf" target="_blank">It's unlawful </a>to climb or to stand on top of any public table, bench, pedestal, planter or statue.
Now you're asking for trouble
In Wetaskiwin, in 1917, it was illegal to tie a male horse next to a female horse. Wonder what scandalous event occurred to spark that particular bylaw?
Those, we wouldn't worry about those
In Alberta, if it's a tie, there's only ONE little piece of paper that counts.
In case of an electoral tie in an <a href="http://www.municipalaffairs.alberta.ca/1476.cfm" target="_blank">Alberta election</a>, the retuning officer writes the names of those candidates on separate pieces of paper and 'draws a name from a hat.' The name on the withdrawn paper is considered to receive one more vote and is thus considered the winner.
Keep your kids at home... or else.
<a href="http://www.readersdigest.ca/travel/canada/13-strange-canadian-laws-you-never-knew-existed" target="_blank">It is unlawful </a>in St. Paul for anyone 15 or younger to loiter in a public place without supervision of a parent or guardian between 12:01 a.m. and 6 a.m.
Can't be stinky in Edmonton
Although every municipality in the country has some guidelines outlining good neighbourly behaviour, such as how to keep yards, when to shovel walks and to mow one's lawn, Edmonton takes it a step further by making the, "production of any generally offensive odours," <a href="http://www.edmonton.ca/bylaws_licences/C14600.pdf" target="_blank">punishable under the law</a>. And yes, it is that vague, so watch yourselves, stinkers.
Hey, watch your mouth!
Profanity is considered so offensive in Jasper that since 2005, it's been <a href="http://www.nomadsontheroad.com/2011/10/breathtaking-prairies-and-crazy-laws-ten-weird-facts-about-canada/#sthash.BEdygOkB.dpuf" target="_blank">punishable under law </a>to swear in public.
Oh, this is SOOOOOO illegal here!
Aiding or abetting rats in any way...
Is highly illegal in Alberta. Alberta declared itself a rat-free province and has <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/tag/medicine-hat-rats" target="_blank">enacted several laws </a>to ensure it stays that way, such as it is illegal to import, harbour or release rats within provincial borders. When rats are found in the province, the reaction by the provincial government borders on an all-out declaration of war, as the latest campaign centering around the Medicine Hat dump last year shows.
Yo, you can't do that here
Although there are countless fantastic places in Jasper National Park in which to park an RV and spend the night, it is illegal to spend the night in an RV within the town limits.
Can't do THIS in Edmonton
Alberta may be cowboy country but horses - whether tiny ones or big ones - are not allowed on city sidewalks.
Meanwhile, in Calgary, it's not illegal to ride a horse just about anywhere in the city, but it is illegal to ride a horse down a city street and not clean up after it.
For some reason, there's a law that makes this illegal
In Drayton Valley, it's indeed illegal to drive a truck under a structure that has less clearance than the height of said truck, according to <a href="http://www.lonepinepublishing.com/cat/9781926700076" target="_blank">Weird Alberta Laws</a>. And while we're in Drayton Valley...
This is going to hurt
Both your head and your wallet. To throw a snowball within town limits is considered unlawful in Drayton Valley. Also part of that bylaw are other more understandable items such as ice and stones. But snowballs?
Don't so this while you're behind the wheel
Self-grooming, feeding babies, texting, reading or watching movies are all activities that over the years traffic enforcement officers have pulled drivers over for while behind the wheel. And thus, Alberta's distracted driving law was born. The part that most drivers associate with the law is the no texting part, but there is a whole slew of things drivers can no longer do after the provincial law came into effect two years ago - yes, grooming is one of those things.
This is so illegal, you have no idea...
This is what the law says about refrigerators and deep freezers in Edmonton.
12 (1) A person shall not place, cause or permit to be placed a refrigerator, freezer or other similar appliance on land they own or occupy unless effective measures have been taken to prevent the opening and closing of the appliance. (2) Without limiting the generality of subsection (1) measures considered to be effective may include: (a) the complete removal of the door for the appliance; (b) the removal of the door handle mechanism if this prevents opening and closing of the door; (c) the removal of the door hinges; (d) locking the appliance; or (e) otherwise wrapping or containing the appliance so that the interior is inaccessible.
Oh no you didn't!
Lacking social graces in public in Calgary is illegal, with spitting or relieving oneself while out in public, or in private property in view from the public, being deemed unlawful under the city's Public Behaviour Bylaw.
NEXT -----> Odd Alberta Destinations
Yes, there are Trekkies everywhere. You can even find them in great numbers in comic and sci-fi convetions all over the world. But what if a whole town got in the act? That's exactly what happened in Vulcan, a small town that's embraced its inner geek in galactic proportions. And it works so well even Leonard Nimoy showed up and saw first hand the scores of Star Trek fans who make the pilgrimage to the tiny town each year, the massive Starship Enterprise that greets visitors to the hamlet and the Vulcan Tourism Trek Station, ahem, tourist centre, where you can grab Spock ears. <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZq7wJd2vsQ&noredirect=1" target="_hplink">WATCH Leonard Nimoy's visit to Vulcan</a> and <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zh27yMnLQe4" target="_hplink">Vulcanites doing what they do best</a>. (Wikipedia)
Kananaskis Prisoner Of War Camp
Second World War POW camps are still to this day a solemn subject and many Albertans find it odd that there were several of the camps right in their backyards. Camps were located throughout the province, including Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Seebe, in Kananaskis Country, as seen here. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/appaloosa/" target="_hplink">Appaloosa</a>, Flickr.com)
The Biggest Dinosaur In The World, Drumheller
Yes, Drumheller is home to the Royal Tyrell Museum. The royal designation is a well-deserved one for the world-leading and renowned archeological facility. But what if you are looking for a more primal experience? What if you want to drive along the hoodoos, which look like they were pulled from The Land Before Time and that usher visitors to the town, and just want to have a rediculously primordial experience. Drumheller can provide that too, with the world's biggest dinosaur. This particular dinosaur is not a living beast, nor was it ever, but it is huge. And, for a couple of bucks, you can climb inside and take in the panoramic view of the town and the badlands beyond. Now, that's odd. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/joetourist/" target="_hplink">Joe_tourist</a>, Flickr.com)
It's a solemn site but to stand before the rock slide that crushed the old town of Frank nearly 110 years ago is to be overwhelmed by scale. There really is no other place like it in Alberta. The town, and most of its occupants, remain buried by the millions of tons of gigantic rocks that wiped it from the face of the Earth in 1903. It is Canada's deadliest rock slide and if nothing else it is solemnly unique. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gord99/" target="_hplink">Gord McKenna</a>, Flickr)
Gopher Hole Museum, Torrington
There's odd and then there's look-at-that-gopher-dressed-like-Mozart-next-to-a-firetruck odd. That's what awaits the daring visitors to the Gopher Hole Museum in Torrington. If you've ever wondered what a gopher would look like if he had chosen to live life as a man of the cloth, as a farmer, or a Mountie, there is a stuffed gopher at the museum who can put your curiosity to rest. For being about such small critters, the Gopher Hole Museum is one big oddity. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/cogdog/" target="_hplink">Cogdog</a>, Flickr.com)
Erratic Rock, Okotoks
It's enough to make someone feel erratic. The massive rock just outside Okotoks is believed to weigh more than 15,000 tonnes, which is why it is also comnonly known as Big Rock. Sound familiar? That's where the popular brewery gets its name. What makes this rock worth visiting - even if you're not a Trad drinker - is that it's the biggest of countless of other erratic rocks that were deposited along the foothills by massive glaciers thousands of years ago but that originated in Jasper National Park. That's a pretty long way for such a big rock to go. (Wikipedia)
Not only is this an extremely odd geomorphological formation, the way in which it was discovered is also odd. The Badlands Guardian, located near Medicine Hat, is a feature that from the air bares a striking resemblance to a human head wearing a traditional Native headdress and iPod ear buds. And if that wasn't odd enough, the feature - a natural drainage with a road leading to an oil well located where an ear would be - was found by Lynn Hickox while browsing Google Earth images in 2006. Top that for odd! (Google Earth)
So Toronto, the biggest city in Canada, has an iconic tower with a restaurant on top. Calgary, Alberta's biggest city, has an iconic tower with a restaurant on top. So, why not Lethbridge? The southern Alberta city also has a tower - formerly the town's water tower - and it too has a restaurant on top. Eye-sore or iconic? You tell us in the comments. (Youtube)
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
The aggressive name of this UNESCO world heritage site doesn't leave much to the imagination. The buffalo jump was used for 5,500 years by the Blackfoot people before horses were common. They drove the buffaloes off the cliff and used their carcasses to make homes, weapons and clothing. Now, the site has an interactive museum and is in the foothills of the rocky mountains.
World's First UFO Landing Pad
Do you believe in extra terrestrials? St. Paul does. They created the first UFO landing pad in order to bring in tourists and aliens. Best of both worlds? The landing pad was opened in 1967 and if you didn't think things could be weirder, the sign says, "The area under the World's First UFO Landing Pad was designated international by the Town of St. Paul as a symbol of our faith that mankind will maintain the outer universe free from national wars and strife. That future travel in space will be safe for all intergalactic beings, all visitors from earth or otherwise are welcome to this territory and to the Town of St. Paul." This is a place the family is sure to enjoy.
The Beaverlodge Beaver
The world's largest roadside beaver makes his home in Beaverlodge, Alta. It took 18 blocks of foam, 13 gallons of paint and 90 gallons of polyurethane to cover and weighs more than 1,500 pounds. You'll have to drive a long way to get a piece of this beaver, however -- this buck-toothed Canadian icon rests on the side of the highway in northwestern Alberta on the way to the Alaska Highway. Is it worth the drive to Beaverlodge? We'll let you decide.