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  • Monday, June 10, 2019 11:00 AM | Anonymous

    Nude Recreation in Canada – What’s the Deal?

    The following provides an overview of the current legal status of nude recreation in Canada.  It is intended to enable our members (and others) to understand the law and any risks they may be assuming by participating in nude or nearly-nude recreation.

    The Legal Review

    The CNR Legal Fund was used earlier this year to retain the services of a constitutional law firm to develop an opinion on whether naturism is lawful.  We were pleasantly surprised to find out that the law is mostly on our side already, at least in the context of hypothetical activities taking place in secluded parts of national and provincial parks.

    We have developed the following beliefs by building on the opinion developed by the law firm, reviewing the case law cited, analyzing newer decisions concerning nudity, and evaluating media coverage on recent cases involving nudity in Canada.  Please note that the following should not be interpreted as legal advice.

    The Criminal Code Statute on Nudity

    Section 174 of the Criminal Code of Canada addresses the offence of nudity.  It is reproduced here in its entirety:


    ·         174 (1) Every one who, without lawful excuse,

    (a) is nude in a public place, or

    (b) is nude and exposed to public view while on private property, whether or not the property is his own,

    is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

    ·         Nude

    (2) For the purposes of this section, a person is nude who is so clad as to offend against public decency or order.

    ·         Consent of Attorney General

    (3) No proceedings shall be commenced under this section without the consent of the Attorney General.


    Let’s chop up the statute and walk through each component of the law.  

       (a) is nude in a public place,

    This is fairly black and white.  Nude means to be wearing no clothes.  A public place is defined in s. 150 of the Criminal Code to “include any place to which the public have access as of right or by invitation, express or implied”.  It’s a very broad definition, but it doesn’t matter much because the next section also extends to private property.

    (b) is nude and exposed to public view while on private property, whether or not the property is his own,

    This is also fairly black and white.  It should spark some thought, as it makes it illegal to walk through your house naked unless all windows are fully and completely covered.

    (2) For the purposes of this section, a person is nude who is so clad as to offend against public decency or order.

    This is a deeming provision that brings additional conduct under the purview of section 174.  Specifically, you do not need to be “wearing no clothes” to be charged under s.174 anymore.  Wearing a jockstrap, thong, hat, or shoes could now be illegal – if wearing it offends against public decency or public order.

    against public decency

    There is a well-understood legal test that is applied to determine whether conduct offends public decency.  We don’t need to get into details, because the good news is that multiple cases have confirmed that nudity without a sexual component cannot be immoral or indecent behavior.

    against public order

    This creates a second path to guilt for “partial nudity” cases and addresses the social norm of “peaceableness” and concepts like the “Queen’s Peace”.  The test for this falls more specifically on the exact details of a situation and whether an actual disturbance of the peace occurred. 

    ·         174 (1) Every one who, without lawful excuse,

    This is where the law gets even more complicated, because there’s a giant “get out of jail free” card in the first sentence. 

    Lawful excuse is not comprehensively defined, but rather evolves over time based on case law and the circumstances of the moment.  The introduction of the “lawful excuse” provision introduces the opportunity for a defendant to provide evidence that could meet “an air of reality threshold test” and therefore allow an acquittal.

    Specific examples of valid lawful excuses cited in two s.174 decisions have included not being disorderly along with an absence of indecency or immorality; legitimate theatrical performance; escaping from a house on fire; or modelling in a lecture hall for art students.  It has also been implied that a genuine form of self-expression while nude could engage s. 2(b) of the Charter, providing another path to lawful excuse.

    It is also worth noting that the actions of local government authorities to permit/authorize clothing-optional recreation (for example at Wreck Beach in Vancouver or Halan’s Point in Toronto) appear to be accepted lawful excuses via the absence of examples of participants being charged under s.174.  Nude participation in events like the World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) or Toronto Pride Parade also appear to be accepted lawful excuses.

    is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

    A “summary conviction” is a less serious offense than an indictable offence.  Finger prints do not need to be provided when charged under summary conviction, and there is a 6 month limitation period to being charged.  The maximum penalty is a sentence of 6 months of imprisonment, a fine of $5000, or both.  There is no minimum penalty, and there are limitations on whether you can be arrested without a warrant for offenses punishable on summary conviction. 

    (3) No proceedings shall be commenced under this section without the consent of the Attorney General.

    Finally, this last line helps bring everything into context.  No one may be charged without the consent of the Attorney General.  (In Alberta, that’s now Doug Schweitzer).  There are only a few laws that also contain this provision, and they tend to concern statutes which may infringe in unique ways on personal liberties, or could allow the law to be used in a situation it was not originally intended. 

    The Attorney General has previously told us they cannot speculate on whether they would or would not grant consent – it would depend on the specific scenario under investigation.

    So is it Legal?

    It is the position of CNR that nude (or nearly-nude) activities, which take place in a calm and deliberate manner, in a contextually appropriate location, are unlikely to initiate an aggressive response by law enforcement.

    Contextually Appropriate

    CNR considers two factors when broadly defining contextually appropriate:

    1. The activity has a strong connection to the values and practice of naturism.  This would almost always involve the activity taking place in nature.
    2. The impact to other members of the public have been considered, and reasonable attempts have been taken (or are willing to be taken) to minimize negative impacts or outcomes.

      A previous case has definitively established that “flaunting” nudity in an effort to shock is contrary to the naturist philosophy and can sustain a conviction under the breach to public order section s.174(2). 

      Cultural versus Legal

      Despite the specific scenarios that have been carved out as very likely being “lawful”, it is important to acknowledge the cultural component of nudity.  Even though women have been allowed to be topless in Canada since 1996, this is still a very rare practice.  In fact, a recent Facebook poll asking “Is it against the law for a woman to be topless in public, in Calgary?” garnered 3.3K responses, with 47% incorrectly answering it is against the law. 

      News media has not been particularly helpful to the practice of naturism.  As a topic that tends to generate a disproportionate number of clicks, the media pumps public nudity with edgy puns and cheeky references.  This tends to skew the public perception for what is acceptable, both legally and socially.

      We believe that cultural issues (i.e. a perceived lack of legality) are far more likely to cause issues than actual legal proceedings for contextually appropriate nudity. 

      Law Enforcement

      It is the belief of CNR that police have a mandate to keep the peace.  The police do not want to deal with problems.  We believe that contextually appropriate naturist activities would not constitute a problem.

      To paraphrase a Calgary Police officer when asked about this topic, “If I’m not dealing with a situation where someone is dying and have time to respond to people skinny dipping in the river, then I’m having a pretty good day”.  It is notable that he also commented that trying such a thing on a crowded beach would garner a vastly different response than a quiet section of river.

      Don’t Ask, Do Tell

      After nearly 18 months of progress, CNR has settled on an approach with law enforcement we call “Don’t Ask, Do Tell”.  This approach:

      1. Relies on the Legal Opinion and further analysis as correctly classifying naturism as a lawful activity, and implicitly believes internal reviews by government/law enforcement legal council is concluding the same.
      2. Understands that a permit would almost certainly grant the “lawful excuse” to be solidly within the law.  
      3. Accepts that culturally, it is not realistic in 2019 to ask a government official to put their job/reputation on the line by granting us a permit.
      4. Accepts that those who wish to participate in social nudity have a level of responsibility to prove CONTEXTUALLY APPROPRIATE naturism can peacefully co-exist in public areas without issue.
      5. Builds personal relationships with local law enforcement/government authorities and demonstrates proactive accountability for our conduct with those authorities.

      Don’t Ask, Do Tell involves notifying the relevant authorities as to the time and location of our activities well ahead of time.  This notification includes multiple methods of contacting us.  We will continue to notify the relevant authorities as to our activities until our activities are so mundane that they do not wish to hear from us any longer.

      This approach was used successfully on June 9, 2019 in the Rocky Mountains with no intervention required by local law enforcement, park conservation officers, or other government employees. (Yes, its a bit early in the season still)

      Law Enforcement Interactions with Respect to Nudity

      We believe that all requests by law enforcement should be complied with.  If we are asked to get dressed, we will get dressed.  It’s pertinent to remember naturism is new to a lot of people, and it is reasonable that people err on the cautious side with unfamiliar topics. 

      When people are charged criminally for being nude in public, the arrest and criminal charges seem to come after other solutions fail to garner the desired results (usually the desired result is the person getting and staying dressed).  We believe that legal repercussions are unlikely if all requests by law enforcement are immediately complied with.

      Utilizing the relationships developed under the Don’t Ask, Do Tell model, we will follow up with the relevant administration to ensure future issues are minimized. 


      The law on nudity in Canada is inherently complicated, providing several distinct avenues for conviction along with a largely undefined clause which negates the offence entirely.  Consent of the Attorney General is required to commence proceedings.

      Case law provides a handful of examples of the factors considered in previous judgments regarding charges under s.174.  While there are several encouraging conclusions, every situation is different and case law cannot guarantee a particular future outcome. 

      With proper etiquette, and general courtesy to those concerned by our form of recreation, we do not believe legitimate and contextually appropriate naturism should cause any legal problems.  The law will likely fail to be on our side if we are disrespectful or confrontational with our nudity.  Failure to comply with law enforcement requests can also result in undesirable outcomes.

      Calgary Nude Recreation looks forward to practicing naturism in ways we believe are already allowed by law, which can help advance the cultural issues surrounding social nudity and help promote the values of body-positivity and self-expression.  We appreciate all those who join us in our advocacy efforts.  We are changing Canadian culture for the better, and having fun doing it.  Thank you for being a part of it!

      Appendix: Select cases & articles reviewed in developing this opinion

      R. v. Coldin, [2012] O.J. No. 1009

      R. v. Benolkin, [1977] S.J. No. 211

      R. v. Shaver, 2019 ONCJ 269

      R. v. Verrette, [1978] 2 SCR 838

      Recent nudity cases where charges have not been laid under s.174: 



    • Wednesday, January 02, 2019 10:00 AM | Anonymous

      Happy Nude Year!

      We hope you had a nice holiday season, and best wishes for a happy 2019!

      Membership Renewals

      February 1, 2019 marks the one-year anniversary of Calgary Nude Recreation in its current form. This means our earliest memberships are coming up for renewal. Rates remain unchanged for 2019, so $10 will renew your membership for another year and allow you to continue to access event details and registration. Memberships can be renewed by logging into your member profile at calgarynuderecreation.ca

      A sincere thank you to everyone for supporting us from the start!

      New Year, New Guest Options

      We had a blast in 2018, and we’re looking forward to making things even better this year. One of the changes is to enable members to bring friends/partners/etc who may be interested in CNR, but aren’t yet ready to buy a membership.

      After a successful trial at Volleyball, members are now allowed to pre-register and pay for guests at Wave Pool events.

      • Guests are required to adhere to the dress code of the event
      • Members remain accountable for the conduct of their guests
      • Guests must present current government-issued Photo ID at check-in, matching the pre-registration.
      • Guests must check-in with the member who registered them

      Dress Code Updates

      Calgary Nude Recreation was founded with a vision of normalizing human bodies and providing access to body-positive events for the widest audience possible. One of the methods we will be using in 2019 is that certain events will be designated “clothing-optional” instead of “nude-mandatory”. CNR's very first swim in November 2017, the beach day in June, camping in September, and Beach Volleyball in November were all successful clothing-optional events.

      With no expectation of personal nudity, clothing-optional events allow people the opportunity to see our values in action with their own eyes. We encourage anyone who appreciates our values to join us. While some people prefer all-nude events for their first plunge, we also recognize that others prefer to remain in full control of their bodies and process our values at their own pace.

      It is incredibly important to us that all attendees feel fully welcome, regardless of how much they choose to wear.  Please note that it is not appropriate to comment on the amount of clothing worn (or not worn) by any member, guest, or staff member at any event.

      The first clothing-optional event of 2019 will be at the wave pool in February. We hope that you (and your friends) can join us! Registration will open approximately 30 days before the event.

    • Wednesday, November 07, 2018 9:51 PM | Anonymous

      Closure on the naked hike aspirations

      Earlier this year, we shared that we had applied to access Crown Land, surrounded by a grazing lease, for a naked hike. Our desire to access this site stemmed from the fact that because it can only be accessed via a grazing lease, we had a reasonable expectation of privacy and no risk of being seen by “the public”.

      Unfortunately, under Alberta Government regulations dating back to the mid-2000s leaseholders are permitted to deny access whenever livestock is present. This decision was upheld in appeal, but if anyone has their snowshoes we’ve been told we are welcome in the winter when the cattle aren’t present.

      We will continue to advocate for lawful access to outdoor recreation opportunities whenever we can.

      New Event - Naked Beach Volleyball

      We are thrilled to have secured access to a new space on a new night! Naked Beach Volleyball + Activities takes place in less than three weeks on Saturday November 24. First - we want to emphasize the “+ Activities” part of the event description. You do not need to play volleyball to attend. We also have naked beach frisbee, naked beach dodgeball, naked beach sandcastles, and naked socializing.

      Since this is a new space, we are excited to have the opportunity to try some suggestions from our members:

      1. Guests are allowed at this event, if registered by an existing member. (The same ID requirements as members will apply).
      2. Attendees are welcomed to wear whatever they are comfortable with. We know there are thousands of people who really want to try one of our events, but aren’t ready to commit to being immediately naked. This event is a chance to see what social nudity is all about and how liberating it really is!

      Note that due to venue capacity, there is a hard cap of 100 attendees for this event. Please consider registering ASAP if you would like to attend.

      Missed out on the October swim?

      The last naked swim of 2018 will occur on Sunday November 17. Our October swim sold out, but there is a way to avoid that situation! If we are close to capacity at least a week before the event, we can hire more lifeguards to allow more attendees. Please consider registering sooner rather than later if you are planning to attend.

      Event Ideas?

      We have to admit we’re both excited (a little bit jealous) that our friends to the north recently announced nude indoor mini-golf and a nude virtual reality (VR) night. They’re even trying to break the Guinness Book of World Records for nude mini-golf!

      If you have any suggestions for events you’d like to see in Calgary (or have a connection with a local business), please let us know!

      -The CNR Team

    • Monday, September 17, 2018 8:21 PM | Anonymous

      In doing research for our upcoming legal challenge in support of Naturism in Canada, we came across something quite amazing from the United Kingdom. Earlier this year, British Naturism, working with the College of Policing, had the Policing Manual updated to include new direction on public nudity and the clear conclusion that non-sexual nudity is lawful. From the preamble (emphasis added):

      In the lawful situation where there is an absence of any sexual context in relation to nudity and where the person does not intend the behaviour to be, and is not aware that it may be disorderly, it will not be appropriate to take any police action.

      The British Naturism legal team has written a detailed blog post on how they were able to achieve this. We at CNR love the approach as it worked respectfully and constructively with key stakeholders to align on a new interpretation of the law, that was then communicated nationally and in a consistent manner.

      Check out the resulting UK College of Policing briefing note (and handy flow charts) here.

    • Sunday, August 12, 2018 7:45 PM | Anonymous

      Calgary Nude Recreation was established in the belief that contextually-appropriate social nudity can be a powerful tool for individuals to gain confidence, free themselves from body-shame, and allow a new connection with the self and others. We strive to create spaces where nudity is normalized, empowering, and beneficial to our community.

      What we are trying to accomplish

      We are trying to establish naturism as a lawful activity and a legal form a recreation for all Canadians. People should be allowed to enjoy the forest in the most natural state.

      Event permits denied

      Our applications for outdoor events in secluded locations have been denied on the grounds that nudity is always illegal under the Criminal Code of Canada.  We do not agree with that interpretation.  The law allows plenty of wiggle room for Wreck Beach, Hanlan’s Point Beach, Crystal Crescent Beach, World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) events in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, and countless other examples.  Enjoying the forest in the most natural state should be on that list.

      Is nudity illegal?

      Criminal Code section 174 is the law that speaks to nudity and is incredibly short.  Here is section 174 in its entirety:


      174 (1) Everyone who, without lawful excuse,

      (a) is nude in a public place, or

      (b) is nude and exposed to public view while on private property, whether or not the property is his own,

      is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

      Marginal note: Nude

      (2) For the purposes of this section, a person is nude who is so clad as to offend against public decency or order.

      Marginal note: Consent of Attorney General

      (3) No proceedings shall be commenced under this section without the consent of the Attorney General.

      Next Step: Obtaining legal advice

      Calgary Nude Recreation believes section 174 can be subject to several arguments in favour of contextually-appropriate nude recreation being allowable. We have spoken with a law firm familiar with constitutional law who believes they can help advance our cause.  Money raised via the Legal Fund will establish the best path to ensure those participating in nude recreation are not subject to the threat of criminal prosecution.

      Not just about Calgary anymore

      We anticipate the outcome of our work to apply nationally, blazing a trail and creating a road map for others to use.

      How can I help?

      Please consider donating to our Legal Fund.  More information on our values, goals, and story can be found throughout this site and on the Legal Fund page.

      Read more updates HERE on our Blog page.
    • Wednesday, August 01, 2018 11:54 AM | Anonymous

      Back in January, you may recall that one of our local events was cancelled due to threats of violence. A legal fund was subsequently established, and then placed on hold when approval was secured to move forward. Since then, we have successfully (and peacefully) held over 6 indoor events and our membership has continued to grow.

      We have also been pressing on one of our original intentions, which is holding outdoor activities for our members in a controlled/respectful/appropriate setting. We have been attempting to work with a number of official agencies/departments to secure approval to do this in an “above board” way. Unfortunately, we feel that all current avenues have now been exhausted. In consultation with law firms specializing in constitutional law, we feel it is necessary to explore this angle.

      Accordingly, we have re-opened the legal fund. Funds raised will be used for a retainer fee including a legal opinion on the best course of action to meet CNR's objectives. While obviously very early in the journey, our ultimate objective is to see willing Canadians allowed to practice naturism without the threat of criminal prosecution. As this is now a larger situation with the potential for national impact, we are encouraging all Canadians to consider donating.  You can read more on the GoFundMe page.

      In the mean time, we aren't giving up! We are excited to be lining up more indoor activities for the fall – watch for details on the members-only events page.

      Read more updates HERE on our Blog page.

    • Monday, July 02, 2018 11:16 AM | Anonymous

      It's summertime and everyone is probably wondering where the outside activities are. We are trying very hard to ensure our events are completely above-board and legal. Unfortunately, that complicates things A LOT. I’ll certainly accept some blame myself for the delay, as there is a really steep learning curve to this.

      While we haven't had any specific rejections due to nudity, we have encountered an abundance of bureaucracy.  Nude or not, it appears that getting permission for a large group of people to assemble on crown land involves a number of hoops.

      We have quite a few irons in the fire, and it looks like a few of them will pan out eventually. We have been in contact with the RCMP, along with other government agencies. Most people have been really helpful and understanding of our heightened needs as a nude group in order to comply with the law. In addition to working to find a suitable location for naked hikes, we continue to keep eyes out for potential locations for a permanent beach.

      Given the publicity we received in January, along with our long term goals to establish a legal nude beach, we feel we are best off working with government agencies and working within the confines of their regulatory systems. While it may appear easier to have a "renegade" nude hike (as plenty of people do), but we feel this may complicate our other goals significantly.

      We appreciate your patience and understanding.

    • Tuesday, May 15, 2018 6:13 PM | Anonymous

      Thank you for 4 months of success!

      Hello everyone! Naked Jeff here. We here at CNR would like to thank everyone for their support and participation in our events. None of this would be possible without YOU showing up, getting naked, and having fun.

      We have overcome many hurdles to have our events in Calgary. Your patience and understanding has been amazing. We really appreciate the feedback that many of you have sent us. YOU are a part of OUR community and we hope you consider us a part of YOUR community. 

      We are super stoked that we continue to nurture our relationship with the City of Calgary, and can announce the event registration changes outlined below.

      We are finally in our warm season and we will have some outdoor events soon! Many of you have been asking about nude hikes. Trust me when I say we are all just as stoked as you all for nude hikes. The sad news is it’s a bit early in the season. Its still a bit cold (especially the water) out there.

      We at CNR are in this for the long term. We believe ALL people should have access to body-positive events to present their most authentic self. One of our long-term goals is a LEGAL nude beach near Calgary. Now that the snow is melted we have been making scouting expeditions for potential sites. Realistically, we see this as a goal that will take several years to complete. In the meantime, should you come across nice secluded locations, please share them with us!

      Membership Rules Update

      In the early days of CNR, we committed to establishing formal rules, processes, and procedures to help minimize risk and maximize the comfort and safety of all attendees.  We also committed to listening to our members and trying our best to provide a sustainable naked space to everyone who wanted to join us.  

      After a number of successful events, we've made a couple of tweaks to the Membership Terms. First, we have specifically called out "following" as another action which may negatively impact the comfort and safety of other attendees. We have also adjusted Rule 3 to make it clear that members have two options if the actions of others are making them uncomfortable -- either express their feelings to the person in question, or bring it to the attention of an organizer to approach the person in question. You can review the updated rules here.

      Event Registration Deadline Changes

      The City requires confirmation of expected attendance in advance of the event to confirm staffing numbers. After losses caused by a series of last-minute cancellations (and refunds) to the first event, we introduced a one-week cutoff for event registration.

      We heard you! Sometimes seven days is a lot of advanced notice, so we've approached the city and renegotiated our terms. Event registration and payment must now be completed by 10:00AM on the day of a swim. As we are still committing and paying the city, registration payment will remain "final sale" with no refunds available.

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