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Woburn Park

Equipment by Little Tikes, Kompan.

Surface: rubber.

Woburn Park is quirky, quiet, and a bit confusing.

First off, it’s not in the neighbourhood of Woburn. That’s almost 20km away in Scarborough.

Also, don’t get it confused with the Woburn Avenue Playground; that one isn't as far away as Scarborough, but it’s nearly 2km east of Woburn Park, so if you’re not specific when organizing a playdate, you might end up pretty far from your friends.

Quirkiest of all though is that Woburn Park isn’t really one park at all, but six separate green spaces masquerading as a single park. Beginning at Cranbrooke Avenue where the playground is, Woburn Park makes its way diagonally south-east, crossing four residential streets before finally stopping at Lawrence, half a kilometre from where it started. Along the way, various city-installed signs give Woburn Park’s address as being on three different streets. Some of the signs appear to give up, and don’t provide an address at all.

But this weird geography is what I loved about Woburn Park, and probably what made me add it to the hidden gem list.

The park owes its bizarre diagonal path to Mud Creek, a mostly-buried tributary of the Don River. On our visit it was completely dry, and I imagine it only really flows during the spring melt and after heavy rains. Still, our daughter enjoyed spotting the tunnels (okay, culverts) where the creek’s path disappeared, and she loved the willow trees that stood patiently waiting for the water to return, leaning at angles the way willow trees often do, some of them angled enough for her to scamper up them a bit.

At one point the path connecting the park’s sections actually cuts between residential back yards by way of a cobblestone path. It felt secret and – with the willow trees giving off their floaty cotton – magical.

And oh yeah: the playground.

It’s nice.

A fairly new Little Tikes structure, including a Colossus Slide, is the main attraction, and while there’s no structure for toddlers, there are little-kid swings, a few play panels, and a sandbox (nicely shaded by those willow trees) that tots would enjoy. Separate from the Little Tikes climber is a rope pyramid and a second set of swings.

Basketball courts and a small dog park are just across a pedestrian bridge that looked a bit funny when we crossed it, seeing as there was no water running beneath.

So while North York certainly has better playgrounds, Woburn’s shady willow trees, its secret paths, and its invisible creek made it stick to my heart.

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