2012 is not turning out to be a good year for High Park. First there was the news that the High Park Zoo only had enough money left to run until June and the city would no longer be funding it. And now, the fire in the Jamie Bell playground.
On March 17, 2012, a suspicious fire destroyed part of the beloved wooden castle in High Park’s Jamie Bell playground.
Just that morning, my husband and I were discussing where our weekly park tour would take us this weekend.
Each weekend (especially now that the weather is warmer), my husband and I take the kids to one of many local parks. Some are within walking distance of our house. And some are a bit farther away, so we have to drive.
We are in such a great city when it comes to playgrounds. There are so many and they are so varied in their structure. There is always something challenging for the kids and there is always a new adventure waiting just under a new design of monkey bars. Plus there’s always lots of green space for just plain, rolling-in-the-grass kind of fun.
When I was a kid, my sisters and I played at the High Park playground. It wasn’t a castle then. And when they tore the old playground down and built the castle playground with community input (and input from local kids!), my sisters and I were sad that it had to change. (The park is set at the bottom of a hill populated by massive trees. The old playground included a bumpy metal slide that started near the top of the hill and ran all the way down through the trees into the play area. That slide was the best part, but it was taken out when they built the castle playground.)
Later in life, when we had kids of our own, we still weren’t convinced that the castle playground was a great place to take kids. It was a bit of nightmare for parents with young children because there were so many places to hide within the castle structure. Older kids loved the fact that the castle was like a labyrinth. But little tykes could easily get lost.
After spending a fair bit of time there over the years, I have come to love the place. And I was sad to see that vandals had torched it and had taken away such a magical place for kids to play.
Canadian Tire has pledged funds to help rebuild the playground, working closely with City Councillor Sarah Doucette and the City of Toronto to “ensure a quick rebuild of the High Park playground so families can again enjoy this important Toronto landmark.”(newswire.ca)
It’s supposed to be done by the summer. In the mean time, I guess we’ll get to discover other parks on our weekly tours of what the City of Toronto has to offer. And we’ll wait with excited anticipation for the new Jamie Bell playground.