Equipment by Big Toys
It’s August of 1998. Armageddon is killing it at the box office. Volkswagen has made headlines by bringing back its iconic Beetle. Brandy and Monica’s “The Boy Is Mine” is blaring through the speakers of colourful iMacs on University campuses everywhere as another school year begins.
And in Toronto’s east end, the Ed McCleverty Equal Access Playground opens.
This playground was ahead of its time. Accessible play elements that are common on most new Toronto playgrounds today – sensory play, ramps, levels – were nowhere to be seen in the 1990s, so the McCleverty grand opening (hosted by CTV’s Ken Walsh!) was a pretty big deal. The City's press release at the time proudly identified it as "one of the largest accessible playgrounds in Canada."
23 years later, the equipment is showing its age, and it would be nice to see this one get a re-fresh. But it’s still a fun place to play, with a wide variety of equipment that includes some elements I haven’t seen anywhere else in Toronto, probably because the company that manufactures them – Big Toys – is a brand that you don’t see much in the city.
Some of their repertoire that you’ll find here:
PlayShell: crescent-shaped plastic pieces that fit together for toddler-friendly climbing
Overhead Wave Ladder: a zig-zagging monkey bar set that’s surprisingly challenging
SkyGame: a cross between monkey bars and a zip line that works much better in their promotional video than in reality (side note – is there anything more 90s than a promotional video made using Windows Movie Maker?)
TurnAcross: a hand-cranked trolley that can carry little ones along a track at speeds of up to 0.02 km/h
There’s lots of other fun stuff to discover: a maze printed in the plastic on the underside of a slide; two-coloured spinners to make fun patterns with; diagonal parallel poles that you can slide down or climb up. In the summer, the wading pool and ample shade at the southern end are welcome. If the playground gets too crowded, the kids can run wild in the large adjacent sports field, or watch the trains come and go at the Danforth GO train station.
I’m kind of astounded that I didn’t clue into this spot a bit earlier…my only excuse is that in August 1998 I was too busy getting ready for my first year of University, moving out of my parents’ house, and memorizing Radiohead lyrics.
I can only hope to age as gracefully as this playground has.