It can take anywhere from 12 months to two years to obtain a pardon. As with any government process, getting a pardon, now called Record Suspension, is not automatic. The Parole Board of Canada is diligent in carefully assessing each application.
Once the Parole Board has an application for a Record Suspension, they are supposed to provide a decision within six months for a summary offence or 12 months for an indictable offence. The process of putting the application together, however, starts much earlier with several steps.
The process begins by gathering the required documentation and filling out an application. For most people, this means some legwork. You have to obtain copies of your criminal record from several different authorities. Depending on your history and type of offence, you may also have to get several court documents.
Once the application is put together, it enters the pipeline for review by the Parole Board. The entire process is long, but with assistance from people who know the system, it can be less burdensome on you. Since a criminal record will not go away without a pardon, almost everyone in that situation may want to at least start the process sooner rather than later.