The Pleasures Of An Outhouse

Ahh, the pleasures of an outhouse…or biffy, crapper, or outdoor washroom facility what ever your choose to call your little outdoor bathroom away from home. Owning an outhouse puts you in…well…a special ‘club.’ Let’s face it, not everyone owns one, nor will they. Nope, outhouse ownership is reserved for those of us who enjoy the great outdoors, and of course, have somewhere to build one. That usually means cottage or camp owners.

I’m not talking about the plastic walled porta-potties common to construction sites, outdoor concerts and the like. True, they are ‘outhouses’ but alas, their usually sterile, often filthy environments are sadly lacking in character.

No, I am talking here about the biffy tucked behind the camp, inside a small grove of trees, or up on the little knoll, with the door facing the lake so users can enjoy the view while taking care of business.

I have had the pleasure (or agony) of using many outhouses in my day, from the luxurient, to the stick between two trees variety. In my experience, the character they add to a camp property is unsurpassed, although the character they impart to the smeller may be easily surpassed.

However, a carefully planned and executed outhouse can be the pride of the owner, very functional and leave a very soft ‘footprint’ on the environment.

I am fond of the one hole outhouse variety, having never got comfortable with the idea of sharing my ‘down time’ with someone else, although, on those dark stormy nights, the idea of someone accompanying me to the privy can be comforting.

Outhouses come in all shapes and sizes, designs vary from place to place, camp to camp. Usually, they are simply four walls and a door, with a slanted shed style roof. However pitch roof designs are attractive too. A split door, I believe called a dutch door, can add to the ambiance, allowing some privacy while still enjoying a view of the lake and some much need air circulation….

Outhouses also make great storage sheds for tools and accesories and the crafty builder has that in mind when designing his outty. They can also make a safe storage place for spare boat gas etc, although not a great idea if you have a smoker in the family….

Our own outhouse is gone now, a victim of cottage progress as our place made the transition from camp to cottage. Well, it’s going back this year.
No more waiting for the bathroom for me. With a wife and two daughters and their respective boyfriends etc, one camp bathroom is not enough, besides, a man needs a place to call his own, where he can hide from the maddening crowd and watch the lake float by…listen to the loons…and listen to the reasonating sound of a fart on a still night….

I have the design in my head, small, yet roomy enough for some storage, a small window for light, and a screened window that opens for ventilation. A door that opens in two places, I cannot remember what they are called…Some nice light colored tile on the floor for easy cleaning. I am also planning to insulate it and sheath the inside walls with gyprock for cleanliness and a nice bright feeling.

I might get really fancy and even put lights in my outhouse. No, not electricity exactly, maybe a drop light that plugs into the shed, hence that is why I am building it close to the shed….I am too lazy for a wiring project…

I have the hole dug in my mind, shored up on the sides with cement blocks, yes, a foundation, with cleanout in the back…and rising out of the ground to cut down on the depth I have to dig. I am after all, essentially lazy remember.Not only that, an outhouse that requires a few steps to get inside, imparts a more regal feeling, fitting for a king on his throne

Outside views of the outhouse are going to be less than inviting, after all, I am building a refuge from the rest of the family, a room of my own, a place to call home so to speak. From the outside, it’s going to look rough, perhaps some old shingles resurrected from a renovation project, or some old barn boards, unpainted, which mask the oppulent luxury hiddent behind the dutch door…

It’s my hope to throw some artifacts of my life down the hole on occasion. I read recently that archeologists love digging up old outhouse sites because of the treasures they find. Apparently the outhouses of our forefathers were also popular places to throw the broken dishes and clay pipes…I wonder if I can get my hands on a clay pipe? Broken dishes are no problem… This will turn my outhouse from a mere outhouse to a time capsule…a record of my life here on earth…glorious sounding isn’t it?

I already have a list of some of the stuff I intend to um…deposit in my biffy time capsule; A broken spark plug wrench, a broken hammer handle that says on it, ‘unbreakable’, an old felt hat I never liked, an empty bottle of Muskol fly dope, another empty bottle of Muskol, a cigarette pack without the warning labels, a few old fishing lures that never were any good, (I’m not about to part with a good one now am I?), an old pair of chest waders cut down to hip boots and an old pair of hip boots cut down to knee boots..they all leak…a couple of long neck beer bottles and an old stubby I found intact in the lake. That will throw the archeologists off on their timeline….

I have the spot picked out, behind the garage, overlooking the lake, but far enough back, hidden by a few strategic spruce trees already in place…I’m going to cut one of those quarter moon designs in the door too, I always wanted one of those….

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