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Road signs in Canada may conform to the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Canada (MUTCDC)[1][2] by the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC)[3] 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 heavier reliance on symbols rather than text legends.


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

Stop sign

Octagonal stop sign reading STOP / ARRÊT
Bilingual (English and French) stop sign on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
Octagonal stop sign reading STOP / NUTQARRIT
Bilingual (English and Inuinnaqtun) in Cambridge Bay.

In Quebec, modern signs read either Arrêt or Stop.[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 Quebec), 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 Ontario also have bilingual signs. Entry points to the country through Canada Customs and other federally-regulated sites (including airports) 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.

Gallery of stop signs

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Gallery of other signs

Alphanumeric reference IDs from the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Canada are included.

British Columbia road signs

Ontario road signs

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., sign design principles).

Sign classification

The Ontario Traffic Manual Committee categorizes all road signs into two main categories: freeway and non-freeway sign types. Signs are then subcategorized into two additional groups: urban and rural.[8]

Examples of Ontario regulatory and warning road signs

Quebec road signs

The following are samples of Quebec road signs.[9][10][11] A notable difference between Quebec road signs and those of the rest of Canada is Quebec's use of a white chevron on a red background to mark road alignment around a curve, whereas the remainder of the country employs a black chevron on a yellow background.

Quebec gallery

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Superseded signs

These signs have been superseded but can still be seen in some places.

See also


  1. ^ MUTCDC
  2. ^ Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Canada (Fifth ed.). Ottawa: Transportation Association of Canada. 2014. PTM-MUTCD14-E (English ed.).
  3. ^ TAC
  4. ^ "Répertoire des dispositifs de signalisation routière du Québec". Transports Québec. Archived from the original on 2012-02-22. 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. ^, page 3.9
  8. ^ a b c d e Ontario Traffic Manual - Book 2 - Sign Design, Fabrication and Patterns. March 2005.
  9. ^ Tous les dispositifs de signalisation
  10. ^ Road_signs_of_Quebec
  11. ^ Road_signs_of_Quebec