Surfaces: sand, concrete.
Equipment by GameTime.
As an east-side family, it sometimes takes a bit of extra motivation for us to cross the valley and explore Toronto’s many fine west-side parks and playgrounds.
Luckily for us, we have some friends who live just down the street from Dovercourt Park, a lovely, square-shaped green space at the heart of the neighbourhood of the same name. They were serious about getting Danforth Dad away from the Danforth, and all my Danforth-related biases.
And I do mean serious. Adorably serious.
They showed up to our playdate wearing nametags proclaiming themselves Dovercourt Park Ambassadors, determined to show us east-siders a good time. I felt the way members of the IOC might feel when greeted at the airport by representatives of a city hoping to host the Olympics. They were proud of their local park, and happy to show it off.
Our hosts also came armed with perhaps the most sophisticated picnic bag I’ve ever seen. It was equipped with different types and sizes of cutlery in the same way that a professional assassin’s bag might be equipped with various silencers, concealable weapons, and blowdarts.
Well, it worked.
We had a beautiful morning at Dovercourt Park. For a mid-sized park (bigger than Sibelius, smaller than Christie Pits) it manages to pack in a lot of things without feeling crowded: a baseball diamond, open field, tennis courts, and a Boys and Girls Club just next to the playground. It’s also a square-style park; something much more common in the west end than the east.
The playground itself was nicely equipped, fully fenced (well, except for the section that had been broken and tied off with caution tape) and enjoyed a good amount of shade for most of the morning. There is also a smaller climber a few metres away, surrounded by an even taller fence, which is reserved for the local childcare facility during the week, but available to the public on weekends.
The wading pool was staffed by friendly and endearingly bored teenagers who, upon hearing my son complain about the lack of shared toys, went to a city-owned shed and produced a bag of toys for him to play with.
My son was delighted. I thanked the kid, and asked if the city has secret toy stashes in all its playgrounds.
“No,” he replied, “they were just here, but someone complained, so our boss said we had to clean them up.” I thanked him again, and tried to imagine what kind of happiness-hating ogre might complain about a playground having toys.
If you live nearby, make Dovercourt part of your family’s routine. And if you don’t live nearby, this is still worth the trip, even if you’re not fortunate enough to be hosted by the park’s (un)official Ambassadors.