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Old Sheppard Park

Surface: wood chips.

For reasons I can’t fully identify, I really like the way that some major Toronto streets have “old” versions of themselves.

There’s “Old Yonge Street,” which runs north from York Mills and meanders, like a lost old man, approximately parallel to Real Yonge Street before disappearing just south of the 401. Out in Scarborough, Old Kingston Road keeps its northeastern direction while newer, cooler Kingston Road becomes more muscular as it prepares to join the 401. Old Eglinton is a sad industrial stub two blocks south of Eglinton near Bermondsey.

Old Sheppard Avenue appears to have been a victim of the re-routing of Sheppard Avenue that probably happened when the DVP was built. Sheppard begins to veer south as it crosses the Parkway; if it continued straight, it would run into what is now Old Sheppard Avenue, where you will find the peaceful (and recently rejuvenated) Old Sheppard Park.

This playground has some nice equipment. Nothing mind-blowing, but a decent range of ages are accounted for, including some tactile panels that toddlers often love. The park has a good amount of space, and lots of big trees that make for nice picnicking. There’s also a fairly large sandbox (well, not really a box as there’s no border around it…more of a sand area) that is probably leftover from before the rejuvenation. Good to have, but it does seem like a bit of an afterthought, and it’s a shame that no water element could have been added with the rejuvenation to spruce up this sandbox a bit.

We climbed, ran around, played wood chip checkers on the built-in chess boards, and then took a spin in a shopping cart that someone had left in the corner of the park, before sitting beneath a tree to have some lunch. It was quite pleasant.

As we were leaving, I noticed that the park was hiding some kind of underground infrastructure – something to do with water I think – given away by some ominous-looking boxes and control panels poorly hidden in the landscaping near the street. At first I found this a bit strange, even disconcerting. But then I felt kind of happy for Old Sheppard Avenue; glad that it still had some kind of role to play in the city’s functioning, despite its “old” status.

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