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Grattan Park

Updated: Aug 26, 2021

Equipment by Landscape Structures.

Surface: wood chips.

Tiny as it is, Grattan park is special because it sits right on the border of two formerly separate municipalities: York and North York.

Officially, this border means nothing, since amalgamation combined all of Toronto’s former municipalities into the “megacity” in the late 1990s. But the former boroughs still have their own personalities, and physical evidence remains that betrays a bygone period in Toronto’s history.

Maybe my fondness (okay, obsession) with Toronto border quirks like this comes from my own childhood. The block I grew up on straddled the City of Toronto and the borough of East York. I would ride my bike around the block and pay close attention to what would change when I crossed the invisible border: the colour of the fire hydrants, the stamps on the sidewalk, the sudden appearance of older, bigger trees as you entered the city.

Grattan Park is a good spot for noticing these things too.

Walk the sidewalk up to the park entrance from the York side, and the sidewalk ends abruptly as North York begins, true to its roots as a car-focused suburb. Look further north and you’ll notice the trees are smaller, and the houses are decidedly younger than those a couple hundred metres south at York’s Elm Park.

The park is sandwiched into a small triangular lot, and if you weren’t looking for it you might miss the entrance. Walk the path towards the playground and you’ll soon see another piece of local history built into the architecture of the park: a seating area occupies the octagonal footprint of an old water tower that sat on the site from 1916 until the park’s renovation in 2010. There’s also a plaque that tells the story.

It’s charming and cozy, but as a playground, it’s also pretty basic: just some small Landscape Structures equipment that would keep a toddler busy but might bore older kids. That’s why I recommend making it part of the “cross-border triple” – an adventure we took that spanned Elm, Grattan, and Wallace C Swanek Parks over the course of an afternoon.

Up next: Wallace C Swanek Park.

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