Tuesday, November 28, 2023
HomeCanadian CampingA glance again on Ontario Parks’ outhouses

A glance again on Ontario Parks’ outhouses

We known as on Ontario Parks Architect Matthew Harvey to supply some perception on outhouses…the nice, the unhealthy, and the pungent!

In the middle of my 30 yr architectural profession with Ontario Parks, I sometimes get requested what I do for a residing. I proudly reply “Why, I design outhouses!”

If that individual doesn’t excuse themselves, activate their heel and beat a hasty retreat, then we would get right down to a dialogue that goes one thing like this:

Why do outhouses odor?

The reply will not be as apparent because it appears.

Vault privies, as we name them, are giant concrete holding tanks which might be pumped out as wanted. Whereas the contents stay within the tank, the tank have to be ventilated. A correctly ventilated tank might be comparatively innocuous.

Outhouse design drawings
Algonquin Provincial Park privy conceptual designs, 1975

Nevertheless it’s not all the time really easy.

Outhouse design drawings
Algonquin privy conceptual designs, 1975 (2)

Giant vents exterior of the tank that stretch above the roof line are essential. They’re usually darkish in color to advertise them warming up and creating what’s known as a “stack impact,” which pulls air down the bathroom drop tube (the factor you sit on), up the vent and past, the place it might’t be detected.

When you web site a privy beneath timber or down close to a big physique of water, the place the air can develop into stratified as a consequence of cooling impact of the lake, then the odor will likely be held in place and never escape. Therefore the dreaded vault privy odor.

Web site location is essential to a profitable privy!

What are the 2 bars on the backside of the drop tube for?

They’re child catchers. And I’ve it on good authority that children have fallen all the best way in with out them.

It’s not all outhouses, is it?

Certainly, provincial parks have a plethora of services for our campers. Now we have backcountry “thunder bins” (the place you’ll be able to expertise the elegant pleasure of doing what bears do within the woods).

Comfort station on a sunny dayConsolation station, 2015, Charleston Lake Provincial Park

On the opposite finish of the spectrum, we now have giant subtle “consolation stations,” within the parlance, that accommodate all of your wants from showers, washrooms, and laundry services; all non-gendered and accessible.

Comfort station, circa 1990s, Neys Provincial Park.
Consolation station, circa Nineties, Neys Provincial Park

What’s with the stone and rustic wooden design?

That is an attention-grabbing little bit of historical past.

Park design, as we all know it, was pioneered in the course of the Nice Despair of the Thirties, when America — beneath President Franklin D. Roosevelt — instituted the Civilian Conservation Corp as a part of the New Deal.

Comfort station with stone wall
Consolation station, 1987, Rainbow Falls Provincial Park

Younger individuals who had been unemployed got coaching to construct the parks infrastructure that exists right now in america. The design of the buildings was accomplished by architects working for the Nationwide Park Service.

Stone and wood structure
Washroom constructing, present-day Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park

As a result of Franklin D. Roosevelt had spent his summers as a lad within the Adirondacks, U.S. park fashion mimicked basic Adirondack cottages with their stone foundations and log partitions. When parks had been established in Canada, they regarded to the south and determined to go along with the identical look.

What do you want finest about engaged on outhouses?

Woman emerging from a single stall outhouse
Board and batten fashion privy, 1971, Algonquin Provincial Park

Designing outhouses is like taking part in jazz requirements. You’ve gotten a fundamental construction and also you comply with it, nevertheless it’s additionally all the time altering to regulate to the situations.

older designs, you see nice selection within the “stone and wooden” ending. Typically it’s granite flagstones, generally it’s coursed limestone ashlar. Typically it’s a log look, and generally it’s board and batten.

We’re always evolving and making enhancements within the designs to make them extra accommodating and simpler to keep up.

And the wants are by no means static. We’re all the time bettering for accessibility.

Do you might have some favourite outhouses?

Oh sure. I just like the Dr. Who “TARDIS” earth pit privies in Frontenac Provincial Park (which had been lately changed with our basic wooden earth pit privy design).

Brown vault outhouse with view of inside
Backcountry TARDIS earth pit privy, put in circa Nineteen Seventies-Nineteen Eighties in Frontenac Provincial Park

I additionally love the “Centennial” vault privies constructed with their stone fronts.

Frontenac outhouse
Traditional wooden earth pit privy (design to switch the “TARDIS” mannequin above), Frontenac Provincial Park

I like the usage of hockey pucks for spacers between the underside of the wooden vault privy partitions and the highest of the concrete holding tank slab. Good artistic use of an affordable and available materials. So Canadian in its inertness, sturdiness and unobtrusiveness.

Have there been outhouse fails?

Sadly, there are occasional outhouse fails. We recall the unannounced substitution of a concrete vault with a plastic vault that wound up floating like a ship above the bottom as a result of the plastic wasn’t heavy sufficient to counteract the buoyancy of the empty tank.

Outhouse tipping forward
Floating tank privy fail

There have additionally been unauthorized privies constructed with no design and no air flow, creating eye-peeling outcomes from the odor inside!

Unlucky DIY privies

Sometimes, we come throughout DIY privies (that may be very artistic).

Two logs with a plank with a toilet seat

Please, please don’t try to assemble your individual bogs in our provincial parks. Correct human and pet waste administration in our provincial parks is vital for the well being, security, and delight of tourists and our ecosystems.

Outhouses…whither the long run?

Now we have experimented for a few years with composting bogs to switch the usage of vault privies with holding tanks under. The benefit of composting bogs is that, if correctly constructed and maintained, they produce compost and generate much less odor.

Single composting outhouse in the woods
Composting bathroom at Warp Bay, alongside the Coastal Mountain climbing Path at Lake Superior Provincial Park

The onerous half is discovering efficient and simply maintained compost bathroom designs that don’t require a constructing web site with an higher stage for the bathroom and a decrease stage to service the composting tank. We’re on a continuing lookout for brand spanking new designs with the hope of probably implementing them sooner or later.

Do you might have any favorite types of outhouses in Ontario Parks?



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