Douglas Garland was arrested last year following the disappearance of Alvin and Kathy Liknes and five-year-old Nathan O'Brien.
Garland, 55, wore a blue prison jumpsuit and had shackles around his feet.
Dozens of friends and family members of the three victims packed the courtroom. Many sat staring at the accused.
Garland averted his eyes from the public gallery and focused on the witnesses who were called to testify.
A publication ban is in place on all evidence presented during the hearing, which is being held to determine if the case should go to trial.
"I applied for a ban on publication because, as this is just a preliminary inquiry, I don't want any of the evidence disseminated out should this matter ever go to trial," Garland's lawyer, Kim Ross said outside court.
"The ban on publication includes any Facebook, any Tweeting. Anything that puts it out there in the public domain."
The hearing is scheduled for two weeks.
Garland faces two counts of first-degree murder and one of second-degree murder, although the bodies of the three family members have not been found.
Nathan had been sleeping over with his grandparents last June, after they held an estate sale at their Calgary home in advance of a move to Edmonton and then Mexico.
When his mother arrived to pick up Nathan the next morning, no one was home.
Police have said there was evidence of a violent encounter in the house, but have not disclosed a motive.
Investigators have combed through several properties surrounding the area near Airdrie, north of Calgary, where Garland lived. A search last year went on for weeks and police resumed looking for evidence in the same area in March.
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