Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Potty Tales 1910

 1 water closet as in toilet...5.00 purchased by Norman Nicholson for a 'public building'. Now, he was working on the Richmond, Quebec Post Office, but this bill was in with the household bills so I suspect this toilet was for the house below: Tighsolas.



Norman Nicholson, my husband's great grandfather, built Tighsolas for around 2,700 dollars in 1896, the year Wilfrid Laurier and his Liberals came to power.

I have all of his records. Nowhere does he say he bought a water closet in 1896, while building the house.


So the Nicholsons went a year without an indoor toilet, or they didn't live in Tighsolas until 1898..

Or the invoice above is indeed for the Post Office. Who knows.

As it happens, in 1897, one Herbert Ames wrote an influential book about Montreal poverty, the City Below the Hill, where he said many poor Montreal families still pooped in a hole in the ground. A Privy.

This was considered scandalous and very dangerous for spreading diseases like cholera and typhoid. 

Also as it happens, Norman Nicholson contracted typhoid in 1896! His wife, Margaret, stuck his mattress out in the hallway.

Coincidence? Probably not if you consider the invoice above. He didn't live in the city, but he was pooping too close to where he was drinking...

So, water closets were so named because, originally, toilets, or chamber pots or whatever for the servants to clean up, were stuck in closets, for privacy.

Tighsolas had 'servants stairs' to the kitchen, even though that lifestyle was dying for middle class people in Canada by the early 1900's. Poor people preferred working in factories. The Nicholsons had a live-in servant in 1901, although likely just a relation. By 1911 only a few in their upscale neighborhood had a live-in servant.

Servants stairs were designed so that the owners of the house didn't have to pass their own effluvia waste while going up and down stairs.