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The Entire History of the Most Awkward Urinal In British Columbia

Urinal British Columbia History

Photo: Emons Publishing

There’s a scene in Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle where Harold and Kumar take a pit-stop from their road trip. Kumar ventures into the nearby bushes to pee, only to be interrupted by a man trying to do the same thing.

The problem: the man chooses the same bush.

An awkward exchange occurs. (As are all conversations at the urinal, if we’re being honest.)

As all men know, there is a set of unspoken rules when it comes to selecting a urinal.

The logistics of it are complex, but it’s just something every guy intuitively learns. (We may not always know that when a girl says “it’s fine”, things are probably not fine, but we have the urinal selection decision-tree down pat.)

For those who may not know, it comes down to this one guiding principle: choose the urinal furthest away from other people.

One urinal in British Columbia makes this impossible. By design.


The History of the British Columbia Heritage Hall Urinal

Urinal British Columbia History
Photo: Emons Publishing

This is a urinal that bucks convention. This is a urinal that forces you and a stranger to pee in the same bush, like Kumar had to. It forces awkwardness upon you, by design, and teaches you a little something about how to endure.

It’s not just the close proximity of the two urinals. It’s also the angles of the urinals, forcing you to face your urinal partner. (Never have I ever thought that “urinal partner” would be a phrase I’d write.)

The urinal is located within Heritage Hall in East Vancouver; it’s quite possibly the most awkward urinal in British Columbia, possibly even the world, and it has a history.

According to 111 Places in Vancouver That You Must Not Miss, a recently-published book by Dave Doroghy and Graeme Menzies, the urinal has been around since 1916.

It was installed in the basement washroom of the building, which was originally a post office, and it has befuddled men throughout its 100-year history.

Following its post office days, the building also housed Canada’s federal agriculture department, as well as the RCMP. The urinal, of course, survived all of those transitions.

According to Menzies, one of the book’s authors, it was introduced to the world by a Scottish plumber named John Shanks. (Thanks, Mr. Shanks.) Shanks patented over a 100 urinal designs during the 19th century, Menzies told CBC News.

Moreover, It even flushes on its own every 20 minutes.

Nowadays, the building is known as Heritage Hall, a place that houses non-profits and hosts events, such as weddings.

Heritage Hall’s Building Manager, Jan Tollefsen, told CBC News that the urinal requires minimal amounts of maintenance.

“It was made to last”, she said.

One wonders whether she was also referring to the awkwardness that occurs at the urinal.

For more fun stories of British Columbia history, check out our History section!

You Might Also Like: The History Behind Vancouver’s Hobbit House


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