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

Castlegar autism workshop helps parents cope with wait times

Kootenay Family Place holding workshop Feb. 1

West Kootenay snowpack nearing record levels

High snowpack can mean a greater risk of flooding in spring, say forecasters

RDKB urges caution when reading into early snowpack reports

Staff say it’s too early in the season to have a strong handle on water flow projections

Treading snowy trails across the Boundary

Before the rain came this week, trails in the Boundary were well-travelled

VIDEO: Canada’s first presumptive case of coronavirus officially confirmed

Both patient and wife arrived on a China Southern Airlines flight after having been to Wuhan

First-place Canucks beat Blues 3-1 for ninth straight home win

Miller nets pair as Vancouver defeats Cup champs

Swapping grape varieties can help winemakers adapt to climate change: UBC study

Report says 56% of wine-grape-growing regions would be lost if global climate warms by 2 C

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Police search for man who went missing from Vernon hotel

Jay Rosenberger, 38, was last seen Friday

NDP suggests easing secondary housing rules for B.C. farmland

Lana Popham proposes guest homes not just for relatives

After four sexual assaults in the same B.C. park, RCMP ask women not to walk alone

Four sexual assaults took place in Glen Park over two months

BC Place lights up in purple and yellow to honour Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash

Whistleblower says Iranian-Americans questioned at Peace Arch crossing were targeted

Immigration lawyer says response from Customs Border Protection is a ‘total cover up’

Most Read