What To Know About Your Cottage’s Bathrooms

By Johanna Crisholm • Last Updated July 12 2022

Toilets. No one wants to talk about them, but they’re going to become part of your daily consideration at the cottage, perhaps even more so depending on how far off the grid you go.

If you’re connected to a municipal sewer system, then you’ll likely be able to gladly skip - or flush! - this part of your research. But if you're not, here are three options:

1. Outhouse

This one probably needs no explanation.

Be sure to check out your local municipality laws if you’re even allowed to have this option installed on your property. If it’s just a seasonal cottage, you likely won’t mind going out to the loo on a mild summer evening, but this option might not make sense if you plan to visit the cottage year-round (Canadian winters can get well below freezing, making a trek to a not-so-protected outbuilding far from ideal.)

Remember: If you do plan on using an outhouse, you’ll want to make sure that it’s both above the water table and the flood level and at minimum 35 yards away from clean water resources (e.g. lakes, rivers, etc.)

2. Compost Toilets

This option evaporates the liquid human waste while converting all the remaining human waste into compost.

Depending on the model and price point you’re willing to invest in, there can be a tedium of maintenance that goes into this option, or very little. It really depends on what option you’re looking at.

What is nice, particularly for those cottagers who view their role in the Canadian great outdoors as a steward, this option reduces the amount of pollution created by your household than say a flush toilet would.

Potential drawbacks: Certain climates are not ideal for compost toilets, and if not maintained properly, they can create an irritating and unmissable odour.

3. Propane incinerating toilets

Like the name implies, this option quite literally burns human waste away, so disposal is not as much of a concern as other options would be.

  • The pros: You don’t need to dig a pit, worry about plumbing and water.
  • The cons: These toilets are probably one of the more expensive, both up front and down the road. They’re major energy gobblers, so you’ll need a reliable source of energy (if you’re 100% on solar or another form of renewable, you’ll want to invest in a solid back-up generator with this option)