How did we miss this?

On the south-side of Queen St. East across from Jimmie Simpson Recreation Centre and Park in the Riverdale/Leslieville neighbourhoods, we (finally) discovered McCleary Playground. This small green space isn’t your typical playground – it’s the City of Toronto’s first “natural playground” created in 2009 with support from ING DIRECT Canada, in partnership with the City and Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds.

More and more innovative spaces like this are popping up. We couldn’t be happier. It’s nice to let kids explore an environment where the playground equipment isn’t the main attraction. Especially when you’re keeping an eye on a number of kids in TOw. Rather the added play pieces are subtly integrated into the space. A double slide is built into a small hill. There is a low-to-the-ground balancing rope and ladder next to an upside-down tree trunk – great for hide-and-seek and pretending. Large pine trees provide lots of shade. Plus a big sandbox with ample “park toys” keeps everyone interested (and sharing.)


Getting there: Driving, McGee St is a one-way going south. One-hour free parking between 10am – 6pm. Paid ($1.50 per hr) street parking along Queen St. E. By TTC, 501 streetcar.

Potty time: Nada. No port-a-potties either.  You could try Jimmie Simpson Recreation Centre across the street.

Snacks: Bring a picnic. A few of (oversized) picnic tables and cool benches made out of tree trucks. Water fountain currently plugged.

Cool off: Unfortunately the water mist feature isn’t working. I checked in with the City and they are working on repairing it. Fingers crossed. In the meantime, during the sumer months you can head north to Jimmie Simpson Park to splash in the wading pool.

In the hood: West, walk under the overpass to pick up some pastries or stop for lunch at Bonjour Brioche. East, Lil Baci for lunch or supper and ice cream at Ed’s Real Scoop.

Mark your calendars: I’m told the neighbourhood hosts a Halloween Party and Easter Egg Hunt.


McCleary Playground (not many details other than location on the City’s website.)
80 McGee St