Dower

Dower refers to a form of marital property right. In its ancient form dower entitled a widow to a life interest in a portion of the lands owned by her deceased husband. Widowers were accorded similar rights, known as "curtesy." Modified forms of these dower rights existed in all Canadian provinces except Québec and Newfoundland but now have been replaced by other rights found in succession and matrimonial property statutes.

In the western Canadian provinces and the Northwest Territories, there exists modern "homestead" protection legislation exists which creates marital property rights, sometimes specifically referred to as "Dower." Generally, this form of statutory regime is designed to prevent the spouse who owns the matrimonial home from disposing of that property without the consent of the other spouse. The consent of a spouse is also required in order for the other spouse to mortgage the property. In specified instances, the need for such a consent may be dispensed with by a court order or waived by agreement. Furthermore, similar to the ancient dower right, the widow (or widower) is entitled to a life interest in the homestead on the death of the spouse who owns the property. Other incidental rights also enure to the benefit of the widow or widower. If the spouses divorce, however, dower rights over the homestead are normally at an end and the rights of the spouses over their property is governed by other matrimonial property legislation.