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Outhouse outrage? Tour some NWT highway washrooms

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This month, the NWT's highway washrooms made a splash after photos circulated of one terrible territorial toilet.

The outhouse, on the NWT side of the border with Alberta, was shown to be stuffed full of toilet paper and exhibiting suspicious, brown smears.

Wally Schumann, minister of the department responsible for maintaining the washrooms, had to endure multiple rounds of questioning on the matter in the legislature.

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In response, Cabin Radio sent an intrepid reporter to peer trepidatiously into the void at several washrooms along the highways between Fort Smith and Yellowknife.

Warning: By scrolling down, you agree we warned you that you're going to see uncensored photos of some NWT highway washrooms. We told you. You can't say we didn't tell you.

Some of the washrooms visited would pass any inspection with flying colours. Others exhibited deeply undesirable colours. A few were just plain horrific.

While some of the blame for the blitzed bathrooms has been apportioned to passing truckers, the outhouses are an issue because of their propensity to leave a lasting impression on tourists.

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Asked if the condition of the washrooms is a serious concern for the territorial government, Schumann told Cabin Radio this week: "Of course it is."

The minister continued: "It'd be easy just to shut them down and not even have to worry about it. But we can't do that. So we've got to figure out a way ... to maintain these things.

"These are very challenging outhouses, where they're located, because there's no power there. So you don't just pump heat over to these things and keep them thawed out. So that's the challenge around that."

The NWT government is developing a "winter strategy" that will in part, Schumann says, address the issue of outhouse maintenance and put forward some form of new solution.

In the meantime, Department of Infrastructure staff patrolling the highways on a daily basis will "check on these things," Schumann said, "to make sure they are clean and tidy for people that are travelling the public highway system to be able to use."

Below, find a small selection of our reporter's photos from highway washrooms encountered on her journey.

Second and final warning: Scroll past this point and you alone are responsible for what you see

A highway outhouse on the Hay River side of the Deh Cho Bridge
A highway outhouse on the Hay River side of the Deh Cho Bridge. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

Let's start you off gently.

The above, next to the Deh Cho Bridge, shows some signs of a scuffle between a human being and a roll of toilet paper, and there are what might generously be termed skidmarks down the back of the bowl, but we've all been there in a domestic setting. This bowl is in a functional state should you require it.

A highway outhouse at McNallie Creek
A highway outhouse at McNallie Creek. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

This is what we might term a "level two" situation.

Things have escalated mildly. The scuffle with the toilet paper has become more of an ongoing feud, with one strand of it clinging on for dear life above the abyss.

On the plus side, if you don't look down and focus instead on the rather nice interior wooden trim, you might be able to soon forget the whole experience.

Another highway outhouse on the Hay River side of the Deh Cho Bridge
A highway outhouse on the Hay River side of the Deh Cho Bridge. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

First things first: there is no toilet paper in this photo but we cannot fully guarantee none was present in the outhouse, as our reporter was understandably distracted by the impact crater upon the seat itself.

It is difficult to imagine what fresh hell the individual responsible for this disaster must have been enduring in order to leave behind such a monstrous and anatomically improbable scene.

And finally...

A highway outhouse near to the Buffalo River Bridge on Highway 5
Another highway outhouse near to the Buffalo River Bridge on Highway 5. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

We're sorry. We are so sorry. But the world must be told.

This is the other side of the same highway washroom block as the previous photo. And we thought the last one wasn't great.

Where to start? It should never be difficult, in a public washroom, to ascertain where the rust starts and the poo ends. Yet here we are.

Someone looks as though they have made a game bid to line the entire facility in 60 layers of toilet paper, much as Chernobyl was encased within a sarcophagus, but the sheer degree of spatter implies several ginormous, point-blank blasts from which no toilet can recover.

The addition of an entirely failed attempt at recycling in the upper-left corner completes a remarkable tableau which, in another world, might be considered a powerful work of art contemplating the territory's economic and environmental future.

In this world, though, it's a pure disgrace.

Lastly, a word for the people whose job it is to clean this stuff. Cabin Radio is grateful for your unwavering service in the face of these horrors. On behalf of humanity, we apologize and thank you.

With courageous files from Sarah Pruys