Going to Canada, what to take?


Feb 26, 1999
I know that autos, and butterflys are not allowed. Are thumb studs and/or serrations OK? What about balde length? What about opening holes (Spyderco or AFCK)? I don't want problems with customs, but I don't want to travel "nekid" either.
For Ontario is any folder under 4 inches
can be onehander and have can have teeth.....This is from a cop in the province....Murray
This is best info I can find....
It also might not be so much of a problem with what a cop thinks or what the local laws are, but what the _national_ laws are for crossing the border.

Yeah, I know. Customs to get into Canada ain't exactly air tight. I've been three times now and they just peeked into our car as we drove past and chatted with them. But if fo some reason you were stopped and they asked what the clip was sticking out of your pocket...well...that could be fun to explain.

My advice? Take your least offensive-looking 3" folder and just say its your pocketknife. Look suitably baffled if anyone calls you on it.


And in the Captain's chambers
they're gathered for the feast.
They stab it with their steely knives
but they just can't kill the beast
I took my small Sebenza and my wife had her Calypso Jr. in her purse when we went to Nova Scotia and PrinceEdward Island for our honeymoon last fall. We also had a small Buck fixed blade in the toolbox in the trunk. Nobody asked, nobody seemed to care. All were being carried with the mindset that they are "tools". Both of these are sub-3", though, so we didn't expect there to be a problem if someone did ask. Well, actually, someone did ask once.

A quick story: A LEO must have noticed us picnicing and cutting up a hard salami in Kejimkujik National park in N.S. He came over to us and asked, "Excuse me, may I cut these tie wraps off these gloves?" (There were some heavier plastic ties holding a couple pairs of work gloves together.) "Sure, help yourself." Cut one pair apart, cut the other, and, "Thanks, that sure is sharp. Have a nice lunch." Seemed like the further "out" or away from larger towns and cities we were, the more polite everybody was.

Cliff is correct. The biggest factor seems to be intent, or "intent to carry a weapon", and as long as your mindset is "tool", it shouldn't be a problem. Of course, YMMV, but the link that Cliff gave was actually the guidelines we used when we travelled there, and we had no problems.

Don LeHue

The first sign of poor craftsmanship is wrinkles in the duct tape.

About rural towns, Don is correct, they are very open and natural about the use of large knives. The most that will happen if you carry them openly is that you will get ribbed a little - "rambo" complex. When I am home and out and about I never have less than one knife on me and its usually multiple large blades with me comparing the two. I never get hassled or reported or anything and by and large people are curious and want to handle the blades themselves. However if I went into St. Johns for example, I would get stopped as soon as I walked into a store or got out of a car as there is no longer any utility reason for me to be carrying a large knife and that is a definate problem.

Its all intent, I have openly carried and used folders, large and small, serrated and plain, coated and uncoated in public for years. However I have never waved one at anybody and if I am in public cutting something I will manually open the knife even if it has a hole or thumbstud because it makes it more "tool like".

The border people are really concerned about pepper spray being brought in. Oh ya, and guns and tobacco. Smokes are REALLY expensive in Canada. And beer too.
Like alot of places. Officer discretion comes into play also. There is more to a situation than "What does the Law say?" My best friend and I were in Canada 2 years ago. As we were preparing to come back across to the US, my friend stopped on the side of the road to get his bearings with a map. I was rummaging around in the cooler for some tea and saw 2 vehicles pull up behind us. Sure enough, the disco lights started. They did the typical "just checking you guys out" routine. ID, where ya from? Where ya coming from? Where are you going? Any guns in the van? One officer saw some earplugs and Peltor earmuffs in the van (yes, they were in plain sight) and asked a little more nervously this time, "Are you SURE there aren't any guns in the van?" I told him that we do carry guns back home in Indiana, but that we knew better than to carry them into Canada. We talked for a while and he saw the tell-tale pocket clip of my knife. (It was only a Buck Crosslock) He asked to see it, I obliged him. He made some oohs and ahhs said, "Nice knife." and handed it back. Then he spotted the pepper spray in the console and asked to see that. I handed it to him. He looked at it for about 2 minuted without saying a word. Finally he says, "You know, this stuff is illegal in Canada." "WOW!" I said. "Do you need to confiscate it?" He handed it back and said, "Nah, just tuck it under your seat so they won't see it when you cross the border." I offered him the Crosslock as a show of international friendship. He declined. My buddy and I drove back into the US now wiser about Canadian law and with a van full of Cuban cigars.
Redscarf, the beer might be more expensive here, but it's stronger
Besides with the dollar the way it is here, you sure it's more expensive?

It's too bad I won't be near a computer this weekend, as I'm sure there'll be more posts to debate, but if you go and look at Cliff Stamp's link to the Canadian Criminal Code, any knife that can be opened using centrifugal force is technically a prohibited weapon. I believe, but would like confirmation, that the possession of a prohibited weapon can bring a sentence of up to five years.

Therefore, under this criteria, just about any knife loose enough to be opened under pressure by a thumb, which includes most knives using thumb disks, studs, or blade holes, is loose enough to be flicked open. Among the 15-20 liner-locks and lockbacks I own, I haven't found a single knife I can't flip open via "centrifugal force". This includes Benchmades, Spydercos, Gerbers, and some Taiwanese POS knock-offs.

I have been markedly unsuccessful in flipping open stockman, and SAK type slip-joints with heavy back-springs, but who carries non-locking knives these days?
So, yes, although you can find Benchmades, and Spydercos in the local House of Knives at the mall in Canada, they technically are illegal to possess, but this law is not rigidly enforced. This is simply a way for a police officer to use discretion in "busting you".

Clearly if you're in your car at Banff National Park, with a couple sleeping bags, and a tent in the truck, your AFCK is a camp tool. If the police officer finds it clipped into your waistband, at 2:00 am after a bar-room brawl at closing time, you may need to do some fast talking. It's all about intent up here. Speak politely, always state that your knife is a tool, and you should breeze right by the cops.

Not a great solution, as a cop having a bad day has the potential of putting a severe dent in your future, but this is the law, and is unlikely to be changed any time soon.

Like Cliff, I live in a smaller community -Timmins (northern Ontario) - and knives are a common carry item with pretty much everyone. If its not a folder, then its a hunter in truck door, etc. As a Motorola service tech, I deal with LEOs on a daily basis and have yet to hear a negative comment on my "knife-de-jour" (normally a silver button AFCK). Many of the cops around here are carrying Delicas. However, in the cities I always recommend caution to people that ask (ie. visitors). Best bet is a folder in a sheath.

A. Dale McLean
<A HREF="http://www.nt.net/~admclean/Index.htm" TARGET="_blank" >ADaM Sharps Cutlery - Canadian Knife Dealer</A>
Ian, you are right, under the law anything that can be snapped open (like CS, Spyderco etc.) can be seen as a prohibited weapon, just as carrying a SAK in your pocket is carrying a concealed knife. I have never heard of problems with either, and unless you got in the face of a cop, I doubt it would happen, but yeah, the possibility is there.

Thanks for all the responses and info. My wife and I ,plus her parents are going to spend a day at the Casino in Windsor. I was concerned about what to take across the border. I believe I will settle on a Benchmade 350 or a CRKT small Mirage. I especially want to thank those that informed me of the no pepper spray(Redscarf first pointed it out). My wife, father-in-law, and mother-in-law all carry pepper spray on their keychains. I can picture the headlines already.