Road signs in Canada

Road signs in Canada may conform to the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Canada (MUTCDC)[1] by the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC)[2] for use by Canadian jurisdictions. Although it serves a similar role to the MUTCD from the US Federal Highway Administration, it has been independently developed and has a number of key differences with its American counterpart, most notably the inclusion of bilingual (English/French) signage for jurisdictions such as New Brunswick with significant anglophone and francophone population, and a much heavier reliance on symbols rather than text legends.

The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) also has historically used its own MUTCD which bore many similarities to the TAC MUTCDC. However, as of approximately 2000, MTO has been developing the Ontario Traffic Manual (OTM), a series of smaller volumes each covering different aspects of traffic control (e.g., regulatory signs, warning signs, sign design principles, traffic signals, etc.).


Signs for the most part employ two languages, English, French or both. However, some signs are trilingual, incorporating English, French and an indigenous language such as Cree.

Stop sign

Bilingual (English and French) stop sign in Ottawa.
Bilingual (English and Inuinnaqtun) in Cambridge Bay.

In Quebec, Canada, modern signs read either arrêt or stop,[3] however it is not uncommon to see older signs containing both words in smaller lettering, with arrêt on top.[4] Both stop and arrêt are considered valid French words and the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) notes that the use of "stop" on stop signs is attested in French since 1927.[5] In practice, however, it can be empirically observed (for instance, with Google Street View) that "arrêt" predominates in French-speaking areas (i.e., most of the geographic extent of Québec), while "stop" can be found in majority English-speaking areas such as Montreal's West Island suburbs. At the time of the debates surrounding the adoption of the Charter of the French Language ("Bill 101") in 1977, the usage of "stop" on the older dual-word signs was considered to be English and therefore controversial; some signs were occasionally vandalized with red spray paint to turn the word stop into "101".[6] However, it was later officially determined by the OQLF that "stop" is a valid French word in this context, and the older dual arrêt + stop usage is therefore not considered bilingual but merely redundant and therefore deprecated (à éviter). All newly installed signs thus use either one word or the other, but not both.

The province of New Brunswick has bilingual stop arrêt in English-speaking areas. Acadian regions of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island also have bilingual signs. Some areas in Manitoba and Ottawa, Ontario also have bilingual signs. Entry points to the country through Canada Customs also have bilingual stop signs. On First Nations or Inuit territories, stop signs sometimes use the local aboriginal language in addition to or instead of English and/or French. Other parts of Canada use stop.

Canadian road signs

The following are samples of Canadian road signs.


Québec road signs

The following are samples of Québec road signs.[7][8][9]

Québec gallery


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Road signs in Canada.
  1. Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Canada (Fifth ed.). Ottawa: Transportation Association of Canada. 2014. PTM-MUTCD14-E (English ed.). External link in |publisher= (help)
  2. TAC
  3. "Répertoire des dispositifs de signalisation routière du Québec, Transports Québec". Retrieved 2012-03-11.
  4. "Canada, Quebec, Montreal, bilingual Stop sign Stock Photos". Retrieved 2012-03-11.
  5. Office québécois de la langue française, No direct link: look up "panneau STOP" under "Recherche" and then click on either "route" or "transport" under the resulting "Index" listing
  6. Photo by user "imagesdistributioncanada"
  7. Tous les dispositifs de signalisation
  8. Road_signs_of_Quebec
  9. Road_signs_of_Quebec
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