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Centennial Park (Exhibition Place)

Equipment by Landscape Structures.

Surface: wood chips.

Not to be confused with the much larger Centennial Park in Etobicoke, this small patch of green space is found just inside the Dufferin Gates of the Exhibition.

It’s a bit of a strange place for a playground.

And I mean, let’s admit it: the Exhibition is a bit of a strange place, period. For two weeks a year it’s a crowded mess of people, Tiny Tom donuts, and rides that may or may not have all their bolts. But for most of the remainder of the year it’s a bit of a ghost town. The particular corner where Centennial Park sits feels especially abandoned because of the row of store fronts which are designed to look a bit like the main street in the old west, and that are only occupied during CNE time (if at all; they looked just about ready for demolition).

The playground here probably doesn’t get much use; in summer most kids will likely ignore it in favour of the rides, and the rest of the year its only visitors are probably kids burning off energy after a show at nearby Medieval Times. The Exhibition grounds are a bit of an island, cut off from the neighbourhood to the north by the Gardiner, so it’s hard to imagine families from the area using this playground very much.

The equipment is standard Landscape Structures stuff; slides and swings and just enough to keep younger kids occupied. Not bad, but not inspired. There’s a gazebo and a bit of seating, but the park isn’t much more than a patch of grass and a weird concrete fountain.

Despite the deserted feeling, there is actually a fair bit to do around here. In addition to the aforementioned Medieval Times restaurant, there are often special events hosted in the Enercare Centre, and BMO Field is a short walk. We visited on our way to a Marlies game at the Coca-Cola Coliseum. (Side note: if your kid is into hockey but you can’t afford $8000 for Leafs tickets, the Marlies are good value.)

Because of my obsession with themed playgrounds, I can’t help but wonder how cool a custom-built fairground-themed structure would have been…but the Ex was never known for the quality of its equipment, so that’s probably overly wishful thinking.

EDIT: Thanks to a reader for pointing out that there is a splash pad here! We might have to go back in the summer...

EDIT TO THE EDIT: Turns out it's just an underground sprinkler system that doubles as a splash pad. Which is some how the most CNE thing ever.

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