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Charlotte Maher Park

Equipment by GameTime, Elephant Play.

Surface: wood chips.

North Toronto has plenty of big-time playgrounds – Eglinton Park, Trace Manes, June Rowlands – with higher scores and more impressive equipment than this one.

But there’s something about Charlotte Maher Park.

Parks like this are important places for neighbourhoods to have. A small amount of green space, a shaded place to sit and read, a “little free library,” a pedestrian-only shortcut from one small street to another.

The playground is small but charming. Some GameTime equipment, older but still functional, gives some good climbing options. A sandbox with a healthy supply of shared toys sits in the day-long shade of a huge tree. And then a rarer piece of equipment: a spinning rope climber by a Quebec-based company called Elephant Play.

This element had my kids captivated for a good long time; they discovered that with a bit of teamwork, they could shift their weight during the rotation just right so that they spun pretty much indefinitely.

There are no water elements, and (of course) no bathroom, but the fencing would be appreciated by parents of kids who like to run in all directions at once.

Until after our visit, I didn’t know much about the park’s namesake, Charlotte Maher. Turns out she was an American who moved to North Toronto in the 1960s, and spent the next 50 years working tirelessly for various social justice organizations, helping just about any at-risk population you could imagine.

It made me think that this was the perfect park to name in her honour. Without being flashy or seeking attention, it’s the type of park (and she was the type of person) that makes a neighbourhood better.

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