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Robert Hicks Park

Equipment by KSL.

Surface: wood chips.

It might not have the amenities or variety of equipment to push its score into the 80s, but if you’ve got a little one with a fondness for trains, this should be on your list.

If I’d found out about it sooner, it would have gone on my list of favourite playgrounds for kids who love trains, but better late than never.

Two metal, train-shaped climbers – one slightly smaller than the other, both bearing signs labelling them the “Robert Hicks Express” – are the main attraction here. Each of our two kids hopped on board and jumped right into imaginary adventures, and they promptly instructed me and my wife to board various “trains” bound for Alberta, Vancouver, and I think even England at one point. Every once in a while the trains would stop while we re-filled them with “coal” (woodchips) before heading off again.

As climbers, the trains are pretty basic, with a few different ways to climb aboard, and some slides to get down again. But for our kids, the different parts of the climber became different parts of the train: the dining car, the sleeper car, the caboose. It reminded me again, as our playground trips often do, that kids don’t necessarily need a huge amount of play equipment to have fun.

Our visit was part of a full day of train-themed adventure: breakfast at Chew Chew’s Diner downtown, a mid-day play at Robert Hicks, followed by a ride on a for-real train at the South Simcoe railway; a volunteer-operated stretch of track running out of Tottenham that features diesel and steam-powered locomotives. A highly recommended day out.

The rain cut our visit to Robert Hicks Park a bit short, but it didn't really matter, as the park really only consists of the two train climbers, some pleasant but modest green space, and some swings.

If you’re looking for more variety in terms of equipment, Edithvale Park is close by (we haven’t been yet but it’s high on our to-do list) and should do the trick. But again, if you’ve got a train enthusiast in the family, this one is fun.

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