Equipment by Landscape Structures.
Surfaces: wood chips, rubber, asphalt.
I’m not sure what it is about “hidden” playgrounds that sends me into a childlike giddiness. Even if the playgrounds themselves aren’t that great (Jeff Sloan, for example) there’s something about a park being tucked into an unlikely, surprising spot that just gets me.
It probably has to do with Toronto’s relentless grid structure which, although it provides for easy and uncomplicated travel, isn’t exactly conducive to whimsy. The area around Moncur Playground though is a little blip in Toronto’s grid, and I had a good feeling about it when I spotted it on a map.
Despite having three entrances, Moncur is pretty inconspicuous. Two of its entry points are off side streets – one of those is narrow and gives no hint as to the park’s actual size – and the third entrance, off busy Coxwell Avenue, is rather overshadowed by the semi-famous “skinny house” two doors down, which has the effect of blinding passers-by to the park’s existence. Plus, the whole park lies below street level, placing it out of view.
Like Hideaway Park in Leslieville, Moncur is surrounded largely by the back-ends of houses, which gives it a pleasant, communal backyard feeling. But unlike Hideaway, Moncur is surprisingly large, and the grounds incorporate not only the playground, but a fairly large field with a baseball diamond, and a tennis-court-sized asphalt area that can be used alternately for ball hockey, basketball, or bike riding. You might need to bring your own bike though; when I went with my daughter, the only shared toys on offer were a couple of decrepit tricycles, two toy trucks, and a shopping cart.
The equipment looks to be pretty new, with a healthy number of swings, two-tiered sandbox, and some good climbing equipment by Landscape Structures to keep your kids busy.
It’s a lovely, peaceful spot, but it does have its downsides. First, there isn’t much in the immediate vicinity; not quite close to the beach, not quite close to the Danforth.
More importantly, as mentioned above, the park is low-lying, which probably means that it can get badly flooded when it rains. There is probably an old creek buried beneath it – we could hear rushing water beneath a grate – and although there hadn’t been any rain for 48 hours when we went, a good portion of the grassy field was still a bit muddy under foot.
But who cares? Even if it’s a swamp, it’s a hidden swamp, which is much more exciting. Right?