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Southwell Park

Equipment by Henderson.

Surface: sand.

Southwell Park is more of a playground museum than a playground, with possibly some of the oldest equipment in the whole city.

Tucked between a neighbourhood of typical Don Mills bungalows and the offices of Scarsdale Road, it doesn’t have much to offer, but I couldn’t deny that there was something charming about it.

Perhaps it’s the way the ancient equipment – the classic metal rocket, old-school monkey bars, A-frame swings on the brink of collapse – is mirrored by the ancient pair of willow trees at the park’s north end. Perhaps it’s the fact that the playground still gets regular use, thanks to the row of small private schools on Scarsdale, connected to the park by a small opening in the fence.

On our visit, the place was full of post-school day excitement, with uniform-clad kids enjoying the antique equipment as much as if it were new and state-of-the-art…which just goes to prove that kids don’t need anything top-of-the-line to have fun.

The location might be why this one has escaped renovation. It doesn’t have any houses fronting on to it, and it’s invisible from Scarsdale. Part of me wants to classify it as a hidden gem, but it’s more of a hidden relic. It’s like finding a penny from 1962 between the pillows of your couch; it might not have a ton of value, but it’s old and interesting, and that alone makes it worth a look.

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