Book documents most beautiful places in the Rockies … to poop

People will go to great lengths for good photos, but some might take it from a less conventional angle.

That’s certainly the case for a Canmore man who spent seven years documenting beautiful views … from outhouses.

Gavin T Boutet shares his experiences scouting outhouses in remarkable Rocky Mountain scenery in a new book called Poo With a View.

“It’s just a unique topic to focus on I suppose,” Boutet told CBC’s The Homestretch.

Part of the cover for Boutet’s new book, Poo With a View, where he documents outhouses in stunning, mountainous landscapes. (Gavin T Boutet)

He says most of the outhouses are above 2,000 metres in elevation.

Among the most memorable is included on the cover of his book: the Neil Colgan Hut, an alpine hut on the Fay Glacier in Kootenay National Park. At the time, Boutet says, it was the highest permanent outhouse in Canada at 2,957 metres (9,701 feet).

Another favourite remote outhouse for Boutet is the Ben Ferris — also known as the Great Cairn Hut — situated in the Selkirk Mountains of B.C.

Access to the hut is either using long overland routes with extensive glacier travel or via helicopter from Golden, B.C, according to the Alpine Club of Canada website.

‘Unsung heroes’ 

While they’re all very unique structures, Boutet says there’s more to their importance. He calls the outhouses the true “unsung heroes” in the backcountry.

“As people explore more, you know we can’t be leaving our mess, and certainly not our garbage and fecal matter everywhere,” he said.

“Everybody poops and it’s something that has to be managed efficiently.”

Gavin T Boutet, from Canmore, spent seven years taking pictures of beautiful mountain scenery from the standpoint of high altitude outhouses. (Darren Enderwick)

Many of the stone outhouses would have all been built with locally-sourced material, Boutet says.

Others might have required helicopters to get materials and personnel into the site.

Helicopters are also needed to remove the “matter” from the outhouses, Boutet says — a theme that’s demonstrated on the cover of his book.

The number of times a helicopter has to go in to service an outhouse depends on its location, but in some cases could be once or twice a year, often in the summer.

While his book is “hot and steamy off the press,” it is starting to pick up in interest, he says.

For now, the book is just available online while he waits for a larger bulk order for local distribution.

As for how hard it was to come up with a title, it was pretty easy, he says, as it had always been in the back of his mind.

So far, it’s the only book on the unique topic that he’s aware of.


With files from The Homestretch.

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