Have you ever visited an outhouse (outdoor toilet for the uninitiated) where the walls were not sporting all manner of text and graffiti-type drawings? Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, leave a pen or pencil and invite guests to go for it! Then serve cake and coffee.
The first weekend of October in 1998 was coming up and the forecaster predicted warm and sunny weather, perfect for a party. We got on the phone and used our opening line.
“We’re calling to invite you to our outhouse warming party this weekend.”
“Ah . . . your what?”
“Yeah, we’re getting a few folks together to celebrate the grand opening of our newly constructed outdoor toilet. We’re having an outhouse warming!”
There was the typical long and thoughtful silence, followed by an equally long and thoughtful response to our phone calls. “I’ve heard of a house warming party, but, ah, well, never an outhouse warming.”
“Yup. We’re serving cake and coffee too. Can you come?”
Who could resist?
On short notice we had invited friends, neighbors and relatives to our open house. We made it a two-day event, to allow everyone to participate and 33 people eagerly came over the course of the weekend. Many more sounded downright sorry to be tied up with other things and miss the one-and-only outhouse party they were likely ever to be invited to. Call it curiosity or maybe they just wanted cake and coffee—after all, what’s a party without food?
How did this all come about? Or maybe the more likely question is, why?
Every farm or acreage should have an outhouse for emergencies. And, with things the way they’re going, water is a precious commodity in short supply. Add to that, factors such as the price of electricity, and you might want to use the relief building for more than emergencies.
Then of course there’s the mucky boots (or worse, that smelly stuff—manure!), the family drags in as they race into the bathroom, which of course, is situated in the center of the home. Today’s modern home usually has at least a toilet and sink secluded in a tiny room near the back door, but older homes don’t. Your house would be safe from the dog following on their heels. Who cares if there are footprints on the outhouse floor—gives it character!
No matter what your indoor facilities, it’s still nice to have a little house out back.
We decided to embark on this project, in the early years of this century, I heard something about needing a license or permit for an outdoor toilet, so I checked it out. The County of Wetaskiwin, in central Alberta, informed me that as long as it was less than 50 sq. ft. in size, no permit is needed. Now . . . let’s . . . see . . . That would be one mighty big outhouse (maybe a 3-seater complete with newspaper and magazine racks). We weren’t planning on throwing the party in there!
However, the County spokesman did advise me to contact the provincial Environmental Protection Branch. Trust them to stick their noses in! I duly phoned and was told that the outhouse would have to be built on a closed foundation that would allow for pump out of the waste when full, by a liquid waste management company. Officials didn’t want any contamination of ground waters. That sounded logical. One local poop truck advertises they’ll take a little crap from anyone. And of course those truckers need our business to keep theirs afloat!