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REJUVENATION: Thomson Memorial Park

Surface: Wood chips.

Updated June 2023. Old review here.

Our first visit to Thomson Memorial Park had me wishing the playground would get a rejuvenation worthy of the park’s setting, popularity, and its local history. While it hasn’t quite checked all the boxes I hoped it would check, the 2022 re-do has certainly done enough to make it one of the best playgrounds in Scarborough.

Plenty has been added. There are now three climbing structures: a senior and a junior climber by Miracle, plus a Little Tikes rope climber like the one at Joseph Burr Tyrell Park downtown. The Miracle climbers have a huge variety of ways to get up and down; stairs, ladders, rings, Jax, and those DNA climbers Miracle makes that always make a playground look a bit more like a roller coaster.

A rotating rope pyramid rounds out the climbing equipment, and this one was very popular while we were there. A group of bigger kids had it spinning at such a speed I was sure one of them would be flung off and end up at the top of a tree.

There’s also a sandbox now which, while small, really drew my kids to it on this visit. Although there’s no water feature, my kids made a routine of collecting water from the nearby splash pad and adding it to their sand structures for both decorative and structural purposes.

The splash pad is largely the same – which is to say, very good – but unfortunately the coolest part of it (a series of rivulets down which you could send a toy boat or any other floating object) has been simplified a bit. A bit of an unfortunate downgrade, perhaps done to eliminate the moving parts that probably tended to break on the previous design.

Everything about the park itself remains amazing. There are connections to bike trails, wooded areas, picnic tables, tennis courts, the Scarborough Museum, and an ice cream truck that I don’t think had moved in the two years since our last visit. Plenty to see and do here. It also seems to be the kind of park that locals don’t just drop by; they set up shop for the afternoon. With all the activities and all the people, this park feels almost like an open-air community centre.

This is probably the most satisfying playground rejuvenation since the one at the north end of High Park. It can be too easy to get frustrated by the way things work in municipal politics, so if you need a bit of a boost to your civic faith, make time this summer to visit Thomson Memorial.

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