Nfld. & Labrador

This man tracks down toilets all over the world, and he's on the loose in N.L

Dan Schaumann travels the world photographing unique bathrooms, and has added some Newfoundland loos to his collection.

Dan Schaumann posts toilet pics regularly for his thousands of Instagram followers

Dan Schaumann found this toilet while hiking between Freshwater Bay and Trinity, N.L. (Dan Schaumann)

There are unique lavatories all across the world, from the luxurious to the unsanitary, and Dan Schaumann has made a name for himself by travelling the world to photograph them.

"It's been a hobby of mine for about eight years now, and it has brought me here to St. John's," he said.

Schaumann, originally from Australia but now living in Canada, is spending part of the summer driving through the some of the province's rural communities and checking out the bars and clubs of St. John's.

It's all part of his quest for the perfect toilet photo, and in the first few days of his trip he's already struck gold.

"I did a very beautiful hike yesterday — actually, one of the most spectacular hikes I've been on — from Fort Amherst down to Freshwater Bay," he said.

"There's an outhouse there which is completely exposed to the elements. There's no door. It's literally just like, an outhouse with no doors.… It does have a lovely view."

It's not just outhouses that have captured Schaumann's imagination.

"I was also in Christian's Bar [in St. John's] on Saturday night where I got screeched in, and they have quite an interesting loo there as well. The tiles on the restroom, they have this kind of like sunflower pattern," he said.

The global toilet scene

Restaurants and businesses all over the world have started to put an emphasis on toilet esthetics, Schaumann said, citing one Taiwanese restaurant as especially ahead of the curve.

"Basically, you sit on little toilet seats. You're fed food that comes in little plates and bowls shaped like toilets. What they actually place on that bowl itself is quite questionable — I won't go into that — but it's just such an interesting experience."

Canada is picking up on the trend, too.

This, to me, is like pure art.- Dan Schaumann

Schaumann has visited the Poop Café in Toronto, and says that Canada may even lay claim to the best city in the world for toilet photography.

"The best toilet city, I'm going to tell you right now, is Montreal," he said. "There was a disco toilet in a restaurant called Mazza."

"You literally walk into it and there's there's disco balls, there's laser lights, there's — I think there was like Bee Gees or Abba or something playing on the stereo," he said.

"This, to me, is like pure art. I love this kind of thing."

 Not all restrooms are as exciting though. Or as clean.

One restroom in Suzhou, a city outside of Shanghai was "basically a trench in the ground with a couple of concrete dividers to individualize the stalls," he recalled.

 "It was not a very pleasant place at all."

A social media start

Schaumann's hobby began as a joke on Instagram.

"I realized that anyone could take a photo of anything. You could take a photo of a Coke bottle on the ground and post it and somebody would like it," he said.

"And so as a joke, I thought to myself, why don't I take a photo of a toilet just to see if I can get a like out of that?"

After a year or two, however, Schaumann started to get serious.

"People put in a lot of effort to make their restroom stand out and look interesting. And ever since then I kind of made that realization I've tried to kind of focus more in that direction," he said.

And Schaumann isn't alone in that pursuit.

Schaumann posts his toilet pics regularly on Instagram. (Dan Schaumann)

"Over the years on Instagram, I've probably come across three or four hundred other toilet accounts. Everyone has their own take on it," he said.

One of those accounts is even Newfoundland-based, which rates washrooms in St. John's based on cleanliness and esthetics. That page happened to catch Schaumann's eye when he planned his trip here.

"That's actually how I found out about Christian's. I saw that Instagram page and I realized that there was a nice little texture on the wall."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

About the Author

Noah Laybolt is the Newfoundland and Labrador Gzowski Intern for 2019.

With files from The St. John's Morning Show

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