January 1900 Carleton Place Herald
Found by Josh Greer- and property of Lisa and Brad Occomore of Valley Granite and Tile
Eliminating waste — Depending on where one lived and his or her station in life, this necessary function was either a nasty problem to solve or a veritable goldmine.
Urine has long been used as a tanning agent for leather, and in the production of saltpeter, a component of gunpowder. People had businesses, going about collecting from wherever animals and man relieved themselves, storing it and selling it. It could be quite lucrative, although never very socially acceptable. There was good reason leather tanners were usually banished to the outskirts of town.
Night soil, however, did not have very much resale value. Meat eaters like humans don’t produce good fertilizer. So from the very beginning of civilization, there have always been those whose job it was to collect and cart waste somewhere else.
Most medieval castles or wealthier homes had garderobes; privy rooms in closets, where waste materials fell into a pit or midden, or worse, into a body of water. People who didn’t have these rooms often dumped their waste from the chamber pot into the streets.
It’s a wonder they didn’t all die of plague, and but for the night-soil men, they might have. These individuals cleaned both animal and human waste from the streets, alleys, middens, sewers and trenches, and carted it out of town. Far out of town. Outside of London, one pile o’ poo was seven and a half acres wide, and was called “Mount Pleasant.”
The homes of this time had privies in the back yard. By the beginning of the 19th century, when homes were being built in Brooklyn Heights, Greenwich Village, and the other early settlements of New York City, there were no bathrooms in these houses.
There was the tub stored in the pantry, and a chamber pot under every bed, and the privy out back. This would not change until the dawn of the miracle of indoor plumbing, in the 1850s.
In 1775, the first patent for the flush toilet was awarded to British inventor Alexander Cumming. He and another inventor, Samuel Prosser, in 1777, made great strides in figuring out the modern toilet. But there still wasn’t anyway to really hook it up to a water source, or a waste-pipe system.
From Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum– ad from George Leslie/ Comba/ Matthews Bridge Street Carleton Place
By this time, another slang word for the toilet had been coined: the water closet, so called because early indoor privies, really fine furniture pieces made of wood, were often put under the stairs, in a closet.
Finally, someone figured out how to deliver pressurized water that had sufficient power to flush wastes into a system of pipes that lead outside of the house, to the sewer. Englishman Thomas Crapper usually gets the credit for this, but he did not invent the modern toilet.
Thomas Twyford actually holds that honor. In 1885 he invented a valveless toilet made out of vitreous china. Previous models had been made of wood and metal. Thomas Crapper owned a plumbing supply company, and he bought a patent for a “Silent Valveless Water Waste Preventer,” and began making toilets. The rest is history. As we know, the slang phrase “in the crapper” comes from his name.
It was brought to the United States by American soldiers after World War I, after seeing Crapper’s name all over toilets in the U.K. If Thomas Twyford had stamped his name all over every other toilet in England, we might be saying “in the twyford.” Doesn’t have the same ring.
Some day take a walk somewhere behind the old Carambeck School/Community Centre in Carleton Place there lies what appears to be rows of earth that maybe once was created by agriculture. In fact if you look around closely on the outskirts of any village, town or city you might come across the very same thing.
Clipped from The Winnipeg Tribune, 03 Sep 1893, Sun, Page 3
Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)
What Was a Honey Wagon?- The Job of a Night Soil Scavenger