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Frankland Public School

Updated: Jul 12, 2019

Surfaces: woodchips, sand.

Equipment by GameTime.

Just up the street from Withrow Park, this is a great option for outdoor play if that popular park is bursting at the seams, which it often is in the summer. It’s got all the convenience of being close to the Danforth, with a bit of a cozier atmosphere and less crowding.

There are no swings, and the climbing equipment (as usual at public schools) is pretty worn, and at least 20 years old. But the whole thing is nicely contained, with lots of space to sit, and one unique element that sets it apart and gives it tons of character: the wall.

Frankland opened in 1910 and was demolished in 1980 to make way for a larger, more modern space, including the pool that was my family’s reason for getting to know the school. But the footprint of the original building was left in place, and the playground now sits within a metre-high wall where the old building used to sit. It’s a nice touch of pseudo-preservation, surprising for 20th-Century Toronto, which was a city where demolishing beautiful buildings in favour of good parking was a bit of a pastime. The old brick arch that used to be the school’s main entrance was also preserve, and sits inside the school’s lobby.

The foundation wall is decorated in places; one spot has a chalkboard used by students at the school, and other parts have paintings left by past generations of Frankland kids. Where there were once basement windows there are now kid-sized doorways, which make for great peak-a-boo spots for little ones. On any given day, there are just about as many kids playing on the wall as on the climbing structures. It’s nice.

It wasn’t until our most recent visit that I noticed a sign, written in the language of lawsuit-averse school boards everywhere, which states: THIS WALL IS NOT A PLAY AREA. PLEASE DO NOT ALLOW YOUR CHILDREN TO CLIMB OR PLAY ON IT.

I know they don’t want to be held responsible for injuries, but come on. You can’t put a structure like that in place literally as the perimeter of a playground and not expect kids to climb on it. It’s like giving kids donuts for bracelets and telling them not to eat.

Next time we go, I might just hop up on the wall myself.

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