10 bizarre New Brunswick bylaws you might be breaking

Howling cats. Loud phonographs. Excessive garage sales. Here are some of the weirder ways to run afoul of the law in New Brunswick.

There are plenty of ways to run afoul of the law — here are some you probably haven't considered

New Brunswickers are fortunate to live in a beautiful, free province. But some of the things municipal bylaws prohibit people from doing seem strange. (Shutterstock/Monika Gruszewicz)

Law-breaking is no laughing matter.

But some of the more obscure pieces of municipal legislation on the books in New Brunswick are too odd to take very seriously. 

From a ban on excessive garage sales to rules against wearing snakes in public, here are 10 of the weirdest laws in cities and towns across the province.

1. No howling cats 

Letting your cat meow too loudly is a crime in Edmundston. (Wikipedia)

Where: Edmundston. It's fairly standard for animal control bylaws to restrict annoying, barking dogs. Edmundston's Bylaw No. 10R2011 2(a)(iii) takes it a step further, decreeing that no cat owner may allow his or her cat to "cause a disturbance to a person by its meowing or howling."

2. No loud phonograph-playing 

A 1878 tinfoil phonograph, which you'd better not be playing loudly in the town of Sussex. (Associated Press)

Where: Sussex. In a piece of municipal legislation ripped straight from the pages of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sussex's nuisance Bylaw 750-12 s. 4(i) not only prohibits loud piano playing but also overly noisy phonographs. The phonograph, invented in 1877, was largely out of vogue by the 1930s. Wonder how many tickets the RCMP issue for that one — or for over enthusiastically dancing the Charleston. 

3. No showing off your snake 

Don't even think about doing this in Fredericton, Britney. (Wikipedia)

Where: Fredericton. Sashaying down to the Regent Street Tim's wearing a snake à la 2001 Britney Spears? That's a no-no in the provincial capital, where Section 2.13 of the municipal animal control bylaw dictates "no person shall have, keep or possess a snake or other reptile upon the street or in any public place." Fredericton isn't the only city in the province to disssssuade such displays: there are similar contain-your-snake laws on the books in Sussex, Perth Andover, Sackville and Miramichi. No word on whether Venus, the Colombian red-tailed boa constrictor that escaped in Fredericton in 2015, was appropriately fined. 

4. No bitches on the street 

Fredericton's bylaws are clear about what is and isn't allowed on the street. (Daniel McHardie/CBC)

Where: Fredericton. Fredericton's animal control Bylaw No. S-11A stipulates in Section 3.16 that "no owner of a bitch shall suffer or permit such bitch to be upon the street or in any public place while the bitch is in heat."

5. No hooting.

Hoo, me? Break the law? (Ann Nightingale)

Where: Saint John. Bylaw M-22, intended to prevent excessive noise in the city, dictates "no person shall permit … yelling, shouting, hooting, or unreasonably loud whistling or singing" that disturbs others. No word on the implications of anti-hooting legislation on hootenannies. Or owls.

6. No pigeonhole or bagatelle 

A historic print depicting a 1859 billiard saloon in New York City, which, unlike the Town of St. George, may have allowed bagatelle and pigeonhole. (Wikipedia)

Where: Saint George. Remember that song in The Music Man, when the unscrupulous Harold Hill convinced parents that all the kids in River City were going to be led astray by playing pool? The Town of St. George was listening. Bylaw No. 11, enacted in 1974, dictates that  "no person, firm, or corporation shall operate, maintain or conduct a pool, billiard or bagatelle or pigeonhole table open to the public" without a licence. Unlicensed pool tables, OK. Bagatelle and pigeonhole, on the other hand? The good people of St. George are probably safe from the corrupting influence of these old-timey games.

7. No circuses in the park

This is not allowed in the public parks of Sackville. (Wikipedia)

Where Sackville, Nackawic. Hey, you clowns. Get back in your tiny little car and head back where you came from. Setting up a Big Top in a public green space is strongly discouraged in both Sackville and Nackawic. Bylaw No. 236, regulating the use of public parks in Sackville, states "no person … shall use a park or any part thereof for the purpose of holding or carrying on a fair, carnival, bazaar or circus." 

8. No mature trick-or-treaters 

Get home before 8 p.m. if you're in Bathurst, kiddos. (Shutterstock)

Where: Bathurst. Until September 2017, it was illegal for Bathurst teens over age 14 to parade door-to-door, and no little ghosties or ghoulies were allowed out past 7 p.m. After the rule sparked controversy, the curfew was extended to 8 p.m., but the bylaw still states "no person(s) over the age of 16 yrs. shall take part in door to door soliciting (trick or treating) in the City of Bathurst." Boooo.

9. No splashing pedestrians 

It might be OK in Montreal, pictured, but it's against the law in Moncton to splash pedestrians with your car. (Charles Contant/CBC)

Where: Moncton. Hitting the gas and drenching pedestrians is such a certified jerk move that it's actually against the law in Moncton. Section 2(h) of Moncton's use-of-streets bylaw states "no person shall drive a motor vehicle on any street so as to splash water, mud or snow on a pedestrian." The no-splashing law is also on the books in Charlottetown. If reported, the driver can be fined up to $175.

10. No excessive garage sales 

Two a year. No more.

Where: Edmundston. New Brunswick's love for good deals is well-documented. But Edmundston residents better not love them too much. Section 10(d) of Bylaw No. 13R2014 has strict guidelines on the number of garage sales a household may hold over the course of a year: exactly two. No more. You've been warned.

About the Author

Julia Wright

Julia Wright is a reporter based in Saint John. She has been with the CBC since 2016.