Canada’s weirdest laws: If you don’t pay a hotel bill in Ontario, they can sell your horse

The bizarre law is brought to Ontarians courtesy of the Ontario Innkeeper’s Act.
The bizarre law is brought to Ontarians courtesy of the Ontario Innkeeper’s Act. (Photo: iStock)

Hear ye, hear ye!

Should you happen to ride to an inn, such as a Hilton hotel, on ye olde horse and refuse to pay the hotel bill two weeks after it becomes due, the Hilton’s could sell the horse.

See: Canada’s weirdest laws: it’s illegal to challenge someone to a duel

This bizarre law is brought to Ontarians courtesy of the Ontario Innkeeper’s Act.

You would think this to be an outdated law but that’s not true. The last time the Innkeeper’s Act was updated was in 1990, and the authorities kept this law in place.

Even the language of the law seems to be outdated:

“An innkeeper, livery-stable keeper or boarding-stable keeper who has a lien upon a horse, other animal or carriage for the value or price of any food or accommodation supplied, or for care or labour bestowed thereon, has, in addition to all other remedies provided by law, the right, in case the same remains unpaid for two weeks, to sell by public auction the horse, animal or carriage on giving two weeks notice of the intended sale”.

Not surprisingly, the law seems to have originated in Great Britain. As a slew of boarding houses arose in medieval times, so did laws regulating the rights and duties of innkeepers. In fact, Great Britain even had the Law of Horses. No, this law was not about the rights of a horse but rather how to buy or sell horses.

See: Canada’s weirdest laws: it’s illegal to scare the queen

Given that hardly anyone today rides up to a hotel on a horse, perhaps it’s time to remove the law, especially as the car has replaced the horse as our choice for modern transportation?

Until the law is removed, one last question remains: if you ride up to a hotel in your car (which has a lot of “horsepower”) can the hotel sell your car instead if you don’t pay your bill?

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