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Graydon Hall Park / René Gordon PS

Surfaces: sand, wood chips.

Although Casa Loma is Toronto’s best-known example of opulent-residence-turned-wedding-venue, it’s not the only one. Walking through a quiet North York neighbourhood several years ago I was surprised to stumble upon another one: Graydon Hall Manor.

It was built by Canadian financier H.R. Bain in 1936 because, presumably, he thought the depression was a good time to build a 29-room Georgian manor with its own 9-hole golf course. The grounds were decked out with gardens, a canal, and even a racetrack. (The horse kind.)

By the mid-1960s Toronto was expanding and the Manor was sold off, the 50 acres surrounding it were developed into typical North York mid-century suburbs. Graydon Hall Manor is still there, hosting weddings and film shoots just a stone’s throw from Graydon Hall Park and René Gordon elementary school.

The playground at Graydon Hall Park is modest, but would probably be a good one for toddlers. A few swings, a small slide, and a lovely big tree to sit underneath. There’s also a rare piece of equipment here: a hand-cranked trolley made by Big Toys Equipment called the “TurnAcross”. It’s only the second one we’ve seen in Toronto (the other one being at the Ed McCleverty Playground in the east end).

Beside the playground is a paved area that used to be tennis courts, but is now just a sad open space with a couple of decrepit hockey nets. Beyond that is a small splash pad. If you go on a weekend you can also enjoy the newer equipment at René Gordon elementary, not to mention the large school grounds, with its rolling hills and quiet picnic spots.

At first glance the park appears to end just north of the (former) tennis courts, but it keeps going southward down a small ravine which, again, is just the right size for a curious toddler.

This playground isn’t about to blow your mind, but if your little one is very little, they’ll probably enjoy themselves. Then, if they’re tired enough, you can put them to bed when you get home and watch Murdoch Mysteries or Schitt’s Creek, or one of the many other things filmed at Graydon Hall Manor.

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