Whether or not they used all of the 142 remarkable facilities featured in Toilets of the World (New York: Merrell Publishers, $22.95), globetrotters Morna Gregory and Sian James don't say.

But they have certainly gone to great ends to compile one of the most cheeky books of the year, a compendium that examines bowel evacuation stations in the Americas (North, Central, South), Europe, Africa, Oceania/Australia and Asia.

Having met shoveling horse manure in an Alberta riding stable, Gregory and James have become far-flung dung management experts by providing photos and write-ups for a delightful array of drawer-dropping depots-everything from a solid gold toilet belonging to a Hong Kong jeweler to a precarious hut perched on stilts above the crystalline waters of the Caribbean.

Some biffys are spiffy and ingenious-like the see-through New York cocktail bar cubicle that only provides opaque walls once the latch has been turned. Others are crude but ingenious-like the Bolivian toilet carved out of a giant cactus.

Some johns are historic, like Johannesburg's first public lavatory, built in 1911, or New Delhi's Museum of Toilets. Others are spooky and intimidating, like a solitary toilet in the middle of a Namibian desert.

Morna E. Gregory was born in Halifax on April 19, 1971 and first lived in BC in 1989. Sian James was born in St. Albert, Alberta on Feb. 5, 1973 and arrived in BC in 2005.

Morna E. Gregory is a freelance writer in Vancouver. After graduating from Simon Fraser University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology, she spent eight years in Brussels, Belgium with her world champion canaries and Canadian goldfish. She enjoys fly-fishing and painting.

Sian James is a freelance photographer based in Vancouver. She graduated from the Plymouth College of Art in Devon, England with a Bachelor of Arts honours degree in photomedia & design communication and is a member of the British Institute of Professional Photographers. She enjoys downhill skiing or scuba diving in exotic locations.


[BCBW 2006] "Travel"