Real Estate

12 reasons you should never give up your outhouse

Old wooden toilet in the woods. Outhouse in the wood. Photo by Zigmar Stein/Shutterstock

You may think that “upgrading” to indoor plumbing will improve your cottage experience—no more boiling-hot or freezing-cold trips to the privy at 3 am, no more surprise visits from bears, mosquitoes, snakes, and…well, the list could go on and on.

Before you switch to septic, though, think hard about what you’ll be giving up by ousting your outhouse. Beyond being a longstanding cottage tradition, there are many reasons to keep a privy on the property.

1. The magic of moonlit walks to the loo

C’mon—what else is going to make you get out of bed and go for a stroll under the stars in the middle of the night? Cherish that extra bit of motivation to experience the world in an unexpected way.

2. Truly private time to do your business

The worst thing about indoor bathrooms, especially in cottages, is that they’re often close to everything else—which means you never really get to enjoy true privacy. The outhouse is a blessed respite from little knuckles knocking on the door and yelling for attention.

3. A chance to catch up on old magazines

If you’re like a lot of privy owners, chances are you keep your outdated magazines out there for entertainment and as…ahem…back-up, worst-case-scenario TP. What better way to stay on top of the key fashion trends for 1982?

4. Becoming comfortable with spiders

Do you really want to be hampered by hysteria when you see creepy crawlies? A privy provides free exposure therapy to the insects that ick you out—because really, once a spider has dropped on your head while you’re peeing, one hanging out in the corner of the kitchen is easy to deal with.

5. The sense of roughing it

Life is pretty soft these days. Electric lights, hot water on demand, Netflix—we’ve got it easy. The occasional trip to the privy reminds us that we can survive a little bit of hardship just fine.

6. Family graffiti

At family cottages, the outhouse is often where folks leave little messages, draw funny pictures and leave a record of family antics across generations. Sure, you can take a photo—but why not actually sit where your grandfather once wrote “Beware of noxious gases”?

7. The chance to Pinterest the heck out of your loo

Search for “outhouse” on Pinterest and you’ll see all sorts of awesome ideas for making your privy—well, awesome. From curtains to handwashing stations to landscaping (yes, really), there are a pile of ideas just waiting for an ambitious DIYer.

8. A place in history

From the secret meaning of the moon or star cut-outs (moon=female and star=male) to the existence of an outhouse museum in Nova Scotia, privies occupy a definite place in Canadian culture. Keeping yours means you’re preserving a longstanding tradition.

9. The environmental satisfaction

A well-kept outhouse is a nice green way of dealing with human waste—no water, no chemicals, just a scoop of crushed lime (or sawdust or ashes or wood chips) and Mother Nature’s amazing work.

10. A spare toilet

Even if you do give in and install an indoor toilet, keeping your outhouse may be a smart choice—after all, pipes freeze, water pumps die, and an extra toilet is never a bad idea.

11. The view

No matter where your outhouse is situated, looking outside has got to be better than staring at the wall of an indoor bathroom. Just make sure to develop the art of closing the door quickly when someone wanders by.

12. A sense of gratitude for what we have

For a lot of the world, an outhouse is a way of life. Using one every now and then is a nice opportunity to reflect on how good our lives really are.

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