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REJUVENATION: Joseph Burr Tyrrell Park

Surfaces: wood chips, grass, sand.

Updated March 2022. Old review here.

In the summer of 2019, that blissful last summer of the pre-COVID era, I posted a list of five Toronto playgrounds in need of an overhaul. This one made the list, and I mentioned in that post that if the city ever got around to making improvements, they should honour the park’s namesake, famed Canadian palaeontologist Joseph Burr Tyrrell, by adding a dinosaur element to the playground.

Well either someone at Parks & Recreation reads this blog, or else great minds think alike, because the new and infinitely improved playground at Joseph Burr Tyrrell Park does, indeed, include a dinosaur element.

Specifically, a sandbox that hides a full, 15-foot long dino skeleton replica just waiting to be discovered. If your kid has a passion for dinosaurs and getting sand jammed under their fingernails, this is the playground for you.

It’s slightly disappointing that no other element of the playground connects to the dinosaur theme – the big dino at Glen Cedar Park would have been a good addition – but it’s been a long winter and I’m just happy to have a new playground to visit, so I’ll let it slide. And besides, the climbing options are solid: respectable junior and senior play structures by Little Tikes, and a great rope climber where I spent a solid 30 minutes with my kids, who decided it was a ship and that we were pirates.

We were also pleasantly surprised by the swings. Often, new swings have short chains that don’t allow for a very exhilarating swing arc, but these ones did nicely. There’s also a saucer swing for those who prefer to sleep while swinging.

The toddler climber isn’t great, and apparently a musical bell element was removed from the toddler climber shortly after the playground opened in January after a neighbour complained about the noise. I read about this on my phone while my kids were captaining our climber/pirate ship, and I paused briefly to imagine what kind of year-round Grinch complains to city hall about the noise of children playing. (Side note: apparently the musical element was not in the original plans and was installed mistakenly, so fair enough. But still.)

We spent two solid hours here, from the virtually empty post-lunch hour to the inevitable 3:30pm nanny-and-toddler invasion, and my kids loved it. As rejuvenations go, it might not be as game-changing as the new playground at the north end of High Park, but it’s a huge improvement.

As we prepared to leave, I overheard a two-year-old saying through light sobs, “bells? Bells?” The poor kid’s nanny was struggling to understand what the boy was saying, so I explained about the recently removed musical element. She passed the bad news along to the toddler, who quickly escalated to full-on tantrum mode.

My heart went out to the kid, and I secretly hoped that his cries woke up the noise-hating neighbour from a deep sleep.

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