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Monarch Park

Surface: sand.

Equipment by Little Tikes.

Monarch Park has a lot in common with Greenwood Park, in that it’s a decent-sized patch of east-end green space with plenty of good amenities, but an underwhelming playground. Sadly, Monarch’s is even less inspiring than Greenwood’s.

The equipment is old and rickety, and squeaks in much the same way my joints do when I get out of bed these days. It’s fenced, which is always a plus, but taken in combination with the rusty equipment and the sand, which has a distinctly prison-yard grittiness to it, the fencing feels more oppressive than protective.

The park itself is very nice, and huge trees are scattered throughout, providing perfect spots for picnicking. But somehow, the playground has been placed in the one half-acre of park that enjoys virtually no shade. I guess there might have been trees when it was built; the equipment is old enough that they may have, at one point, been shade.

If the heat is getting to you, visit the pool at the park’s southern end, which is well-used in the summer. I have two strong childhood memories of this pool. Once, when I was about eight, I remember the water being so cold that I jumped in, climbed out, and immediately vomited on the deck. And then another time, a summer or two later, my brother’s bike was stolen while he swam. Both incidents happened long ago, of course, and I’m sure the water and the neighbours are much warmer now.

Just east of the pool, there’s an (un-fenced) off-leash area with sloping hills, and the rumble of GO and Via trains come from just beyond the park’s southern border, so if your little one is a train spotter, this adds to Monarch’s appeal.

In winter, the stadium just behind Monarch Park High School is a bubble, and has a regularly-scheduled “toddler time,” in which they fill part of the bubble with foam blocks, parachutes, and a bouncy castle. Good fun, especially for stir-crazy toddlers in the middle of winter.

In short, Monarch Park has a lot going for it, but until the playground gets a makeover, it will be one that playground enthusiasts might want to pass over.

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