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

Despite the last known duel 250 years ago, Canada’s duelling law continues to remain on the books.
Despite the last known duel 250 years ago, Canada’s duelling law continues to remain on the books. (Photo: iStock)

Did you know that’s it’s illegal to challenge a person to a duel in Canada, even today? Yes, a duel as in “how dare you besmirch my honour, I challenge you to a duel with pistols (or swords) at dawn!”

See: Canada’s weirdest laws: You can be arrested for an 'immoral' theatrical performance

The Criminal Code of Canada states that it is illegal for a person to:

  • Challenge or attempt by any means to provoke another person to fight a duel;
  • Attempt to provoke a person to challenge another person to fight a duel; or
  • Accept a challenge to fight a duel.

Not only is it illegal but also it’s seen as a serious offence and can get a person up to two years in jail (not to mention the threat of being charged with aggravated assault or murder if you seriously injured or killed the other person). Then, of course, there is also the threat of dying.

In old duelling tradition, in order to signify someone has been challenged to a duel, the challenger would slap his glove across the face of the person he wanted to challenge. It’s not recommended today, as not only can you still find yourself being criminally charged with duelling but you could also be charged with assault to boot.

Duelling became popular in Europe during the mid-16th century and started to make its way to North America, despite it having been outlawed. The first known duel in Canada was fought in 1646 by way of swords and the last is estimated to have happened in the 18th century.

See: Canada’s weirdest laws: Did you know it’s illegal to steal oysters from oyster beds?

Despite that last known duel 250 years ago, Canada’s duelling law continues to remain a part of the Criminal Code.

Next time someone tries to slap your face with a glove, do yourself a favour and turn the other cheek.

Find a Lawyer