Updated: May 14
Surfaces: wood chips, rubber, sand.
I have yet to visit a “square” park in Toronto that I didn’t like.
Okay, so there aren’t that many of them. Toronto’s unrelenting street grid doesn’t allow for many squares, but when it does, they’re great. Dovercourt, Sibelius Square, Vermont Square…there’s something about having a park embraced by a perimeter of houses facing in towards each other, as if holding hands, that’s just magical.
As mentioned in my review of Sibelius Square, it has to do with Toronto icon Jane Jacobs’ idea of “eyes on the street” – the idea that urban spaces feel more secure when their design means they are naturally monitored by residents.
And if you don’t know who Jane Jacobs is, best not to mention that at Bellevue Square Park.
In the heart of the hippie/hipster haven that is Kensington Market, Bellevue Square may not be one of Toronto’s big-name parks, but it is a favourite with locals. Come in the summer, or on Kensington’s famous “pedestrian Sundays,” and you’re likely to find the place overrun by adorable, gluten-free, organic, locally-sourced children. This is especially true following its 2018 rejuvenation.
The equipment isn’t mind-blowing, but nicely varied. A medium-sized wooden climber, a small Kompan climber for toddlers, various spinners, and one of those fun saucer swings that can swing a whole family at once. There’s also a nicely shaded sandbox with a water feature, a small splash pad, and washrooms.
Oh, and a statue of Al Waxman. Because why not?
I went for the first time on a beautiful spring weekday morning with my daughter, and aside from the disheveled man yelling at a tree, it was serene and wonderful. Plenty of thought has gone into the landscaping here; curved seating areas, a diagonal path across the park, and permanent café-style seating in the park’s north-east corner. With old Victorian houses gazing down at you, and the CN Tower peeking in from the distance, this might be the quintessential downtown Toronto park experience.