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East Lynn Park

Updated: Aug 1, 2019

Surfaces: wood chips, sand.

Equipment by GameTime.

One of the things I’m going to miss most about having very young kids is how it makes everyone around you friendlier.

Toronto is a notoriously cold place. Just Google “Toronto unfriendly” and you’ll find plenty of news articles, opinion pieces, forum threads, and ranty blog posts about how bad it can be.

Having grown up here, I don’t notice it that much (although perhaps that just means I’m so rude I can’t recognize the problem) but I have to say that as soon as my first-born was on the scene, I was blown away by how generous people were with their smiles and friendly banter.

A typical interaction:

Smiling person: Awww! How old?

Me: [insert age]

Smiling person [as if I just gave the perfect answer]: Wow. What a wonderful age. Enjoy it!

My child: Boots!

Smiling person [crouching]: Are you wearing boots? I love your boots! Aren’t you adorable!

I don’t imagine that interactions like this will happen too often when my kids are, say, 14. So as much as people tell me to enjoy this phase of my parenthood, I’m going to try equally hard to enjoy this brief window of my life when people will smile at me in the street.

This all comes to mind because of a recent visit to East Lynn Park, a lovely, hilly bit of greenery just south of the Danforth at Woodbine. It might be the friendliest playground I’ve ever visited.

Of course, caregivers at playgrounds are usually friendly with each other, always willing to commiserate, share ideas, or just generally bask in the beauty of small children. But I feel like East Lynn is a particularly friendly place. The neighbourhood has become more and more family-dominated in recent years, as young parents move east along the Danforth in search of something approaching an affordable house. This means the East Lynn is a well-used playground, and the park itself is full of life in the summer – fairs, farmer’s markets, etc.

And everyone’s just so…nice.

As for the playground itself: the equipment is good, with options for younger and older kids separated by a generous amount of swings. Shared toys are often available, and the bank of trees on the park’s sloping east edge means that there’s good shade, at least in the mornings. There’s a sign at the edge of the playground that designates it as “Rusty’s Reach” – although I’ve never heard the term used by any neighbourhood parents, and even the city’s website doesn’t mention it. Who Rusty is, and what he’s reaching for, will likely remain a mystery.

A wading pool (a classic Toronto concrete cone) has been painted to make it less Soviet-looking. It’s set back a bit from the play area, which spreads things out nicely, but makes supervision tricky if you’ve got multiple kids playing in different areas of the park.

In close proximity to a stretch of the Danforth that’s becoming more and more family-oriented, this is bound to become a busier and busier playground as the years go by. Hopefully, crowding won’t have a negative effect on the friendliness of the clientele.

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