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

Youth Discover the Trades coming up in February for SD27 students

Around 80 Grade 7 students will be getting hands-on trade experience at TRU

Brock Hoyer settles for fifth place in Snow BikeCross at X Games

The lakecity athlete rode hard but was fouled up by loose snow in the third lap

World Religion Day an inclusive, well-attended offering

“It was fabulous,” he said. “Last year’s turnout was decent. But this year was quite wonderful.”

New CCPL President Anton Dounts looks to offer support

It’s Literacy Week in Williams Lake and it marks the first one Anton Dounts has headed

Lakecity CAO and CFO demand RCMP billing changes, save Williams Lake $750K to $1 million

It’s been a matter of going over every invoice line by line, CAO said

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

People knowingly take fentanyl so make policy changes to reduce harm: B.C. study

Dr. Jane Buxton, an epidemiologist at the centre, says drug users need more resources,

‘My heart is going to bleed’: Bodies brought back to Canada following Iran plane crash

Remains of Sahar Haghjoo, 37, and her eight-year-old daughter, Elsa Jadidi, were identified last weekend

BCLC opens novelty bet on Harry and Meghan moving to the west coast

Meanwhile, real estate agency points to four possible homes for the family

Coastal GasLink work camp in Vanderhoof gets approved by the ALC

The work camp behind the Vanderhoof airport was first rejected by the commission in October last year

Canada slips in global corruption ranking in aftermath of SNC-Lavalin scandal

The country obtained a score of 77, which places it at the top in the Americas

Wuhan bans cars, Hong Kong closes schools as coronavirus spreads

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said her government will raise its response level to emergency, highest one

B.C.’s oldest practising lawyer celebrates 100th birthday, shares advice

Firefighters bring Constance Isherwood a cake with 100 birthday candles

Most Read