Originally Posted by schmolze
As for baluster spacing, you shouldn't be able to fit a tennis ball between them.
Wow, that's some tight spacing. Is that a requirement in your area? The international code only prohibits passage of a 4" sphere...That's one big tennis ball!
I am not much help with canadian codes unfortunately. Here in the states, the handrail must project to the nose of the bottom tread unless it terminates at a newel set on the first tread. If the newel is set on a higher tread, as schmolze said, the handrail would need to extend past the newel, which usually looks like crud. Your best bet is to set the newel at the bottom tread in most cases.