Yoho National Park gets etiquette signs to help international tourists use outhouses

The signs ask users to sit rather than stand on toilet seats

Interior view of an outhouse at the Lake O’Hara parking lot at Yoho National Park in the Rocky Mountains, in eastern British Columbia on July 28, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colette Derworiz)

New signs are popping up in the Canadian Rockies to show international visitors how to properly use outhouses.

Staff at Lake O’Hara in B.C.’s Yoho National Park installed toilet etiquette signs, which ask users to sit rather than stand on toilet seats, in bathroom facilities in June.

“We’ve noticed that some visitors who aren’t used to Western-style toilets — they may attempt to stand up on the seats when using the toilet,” said Jed Cochrane, an acting visitor experience manager in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay national parks.

“Because the toilet is not designed for that, it ultimately creates problems with cleanliness.”

Standing on a toilet, he said, can also lead to a broken seat or a broken seal at the bottom of the toilet because weight is higher up than it should be.

“And there’s always the risk of falling, which no one wants to do,” added Cochrane.

Some public toilets in Asian countries and the Middle East are pit latrines, which require users to squat over an open hole.

Signs that show people how to use seat toilets can also be found in other tourist locations, including the Swiss Alps and parts of the United Kingdom.

Cochrane said Canada’s mountain parks have started seeing an increase in international visitors over the past decade.

“We are seeing more and more people coming from countries all over the world,” he said. “In some places, we are just seeing more visitors that aren’t used to this style of toilet.”

Jia Wang, deputy director of the China Institute at the University of Alberta, said there are cultural differences in how toilets are used.

“It’s more of an Asia thing, but not just Asia,” she said. “A lot of other countries have this as well.”

Wang said seat toilets are becoming more common in homes in Asia, but squat toilets are still commonly used in public spaces.

“For a lot of people, their argument is: ‘I don’t find it sanitary to be sitting on the seat,’” she said.

Still, Wang said there’s no excuse for standing on a toilet seat.

“By offering alternatives or seat covers, some tourists would be more comfortable using it,” she said.

“It’s not like most people don’t know what to do with those toilets. It’s just that they are used to the other kind of toilets when they were growing up and, more likely, it’s because of the sanitary reasons.”

READ MORE: Okanagan Connector rest stop ‘piled high with you-know-what’

Officials with Parks Canada said they are considering toilet etiquette signs in other busy locations, including Lake Louise in Alberta’s Banff National Park, and have started adding more signs with pictures rather than words to better help tourists who don’t speak English or French.

The signs, said Wang, are fine as long as they are coming from a good place.

“We don’t want to be seen as discriminating,” she said. “It’s more like for your information.”

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Russell selected as B.C. NDP candidate for Boundary-Similkameen

The director for the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary was chosen over Oliver councillor Grice.

Education ministry’s COVID plan could do more for SD51, says teachers’ union president

There have been no confirmed COVID cases two weeks into school year

Midway council meeting cancelled after most councillors unable to attend

Councillors gave advance notice, meeting cancelled ahead of schedule

Vanessa Chartier to host all candidates forum at MacArthur Centre

Voters can watch the forum on Facebook Live

Greenwood Board of Trade to hold public meeting at City Hall

The board is seeking input on its proposed all candidates meeting ahead of the city’s byelection next month

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Local councils important, Horgan says as municipal conference ends

B.C. NDP leader says ‘speed dating’ vital, online or in person

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Penticton woman sentenced to one year in prison for manslaughter of teen boyfriend

Kiera Bourque, 24, was sentenced for manslaughter in the 2017 death of Penticton’s Devon Blackmore

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Green leader says NDP abandoning environmental plan

Horgan’s claim of unstable government false, Furstenau says

Province’s response to old growth forest report falls short, says Nelson scientist

Rachel Holt says province is saving areas that don’t need protection, ignoring those that do

Kootenay yearling released into northern wild

Photos: Scroll to the bottom of the story to see Kenzo’s release

Most Read