Outhouses I Have Known

Outhouses I Have Known

It may not have Wi-Fi, but it gets the job done.

Outhouses are interesting. Mostly, they are interesting because they bring back memories.

Sketch outhouse ©

The most interesting of memories would be the ones connected to 30 degrees below weather, dead of winter, 8:30 PM…and it’s not only “cold outside” it’s dark outside.

My siblings and I pack on our warm parkas, wool mittens and wool lined high-top boots. Our little legs make their way down the snow-packed narrow path to… you guessed it… the outhouse, our bedtime ritual.

Not something I particularly looked forward to.

I am certain you can imagine what the worst part of that memory would be! 

A typical pit latrine outhouse, popular in Southern Manitoba in by-gone days ©

Another interesting outhouse memory connected to Halloween in the country had its own terror. The naughty boys of the town would rampage the neighboring homes and tip over all their outhouses. All except for ours. My Dad was very proud of his outhouse construction – the one outhouse in the village left standing after the day was done. One year, an unlucky outhouse owner discovered his privy on the roof of the local auto mechanic’s shop!

In the country, outhouses remained the toilet of the house, long after city folks hooked up to the modern indoor flush toilet system.

In fact, today I can go to a friend’s farm right here in Abbotsford, and if I have the hankering, I can use one of her outhouses – she has not one, but two – two of the prettiest outhouses I’ve known.

Outhouse #1 – The Little Red outhouse – charming ©
Outhouse #2 – pink and lime – cozy! Even a window to enjoy the scenery.

One, brightly painted red, the other, dusty rose. I step inside the red one and notice the decor. A lace curtain covers a small window. The seat – varnished hardwood. Framed pictures of roosters and such grace the walls. And there’s plenty of soft toilet paper rolls. 

I step back outside where I find a container of water, a basin, soap and a towel. How convenient is that?

These two outhouses have been the source of healing from those past chilling memories of years gone by.


Silverton, BC, and here we find a rugged, well-used and worn out outhouse; one which has seen some interesting times, I’m sure. The door, broken, hangs off its hinges, and some of the weathered gray boards are missing… I suppose in a pinch, it could still do the job.

Outhouses had more than one purpose. I’m sure I’m not the only one who knows someone who, hoping to avoid a chore or two, disappeared into the simple structure to read a few pages of a mystery novel. 

pencil sketch

Enough of that… “I have to go see a man about a dog,” as my uncle would say when he had the urge to visit the outhouse. 

Carrie Wachsmann ©

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