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Warner Park

Equipment by Little Tikes.

Surface: rubber.

The main thing I remember about being driven to piano lessons as a kid (other than the feeling of not wanting to go to piano lessons) is that I knew we were getting close when we passed the great big billboard with the lady on the swing.

It was an ad for the local Chrysler dealer which was put up in 1962, and a mainstay of the neighbourhood by the time it had become a milestone on my weekly piano commute. The lady in question was sitting happily on a swing that hung from the branch of a tree so lush that it overflowed the rectangular borders of the sign. And yes, the swing actually moved – slowly, mechanically, unfailingly – above the words “swing over to,” which was the catch phrase intended to get you to visit the Chrysler showroom.

The swinging lady, circa 1992. Image: Jason Reeve

Her smile was pleasant in the way that media representations of women in the 1960s were pleasant. Comforting and discomforting at the same time.

She swung there for more than 40 years at the corner of Victoria Park and Eglinton until a developer purchased the land beneath her swing to build some townhouses. But the neighbourhood was so distressed by the possibility of the swinging lady disappearing that in the end a new sign was put up just a bit further west on Eglinton.

We drove by the other day, and it was shortly after passing the billboard that I spotted the bright colours of the playground at Warner Park. We pulled over for a quick play.

The equipment here is not bad, and perhaps more appealing because of its bright colours. There’s a good variety of monkey bars, which pleased my daughter as she is currently getting close to mastering that particular skill and is incredibly proud of it.

Some swings, a small rope climber, and a covered toddler play structure round out the equipment. Oh, and one of those Little Tikes things meant to look like a white water raft, which sounds way more fun than it is.

My son and I kicked a ball around a bit on the field, where someone had installed some small homemade soccer nets, while my wife and daughter explored the east side of the park which was nicely shaded. There they found some delicious mulberries and a groundhog who seemed less than happy about having his mulberry supply picked by nosy humans.

Despite being thoroughly mediocre, I kind of liked this one. Something about the homemade soccer nets and the mulberries and the proximity to nostalgia. If someone in the neighbourhood took the initiative to build a tree swing in this park, I would definitely swing on back to Warner Park.

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