A curbside pick-up brought us up and over to North York. While in the hood, we headed over to check out the Jumpstart Inclusive Playground at Earl Bales Park. Having not grown up in Toronto and mostly living in the east end, we’ve always eyed this greenspace but never got a chance to explore it until recently.
For those families in TOw who call this park home, we’re so jealous!
The 15,000 square-foot playground is located at the corner of Bathurst St. and Sheppard Avenue (4169 Bathurst) in Earl Bales Park (more details on this City of Toronto park below.) The Jumpstart Playground opened in late 2018 and still feels very shiny and new.
Funded by Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities (an investment of $1.2-million), the playground uses universal accessibility design features, ensuring that these playgrounds become the standard for inclusivity and be used by children of all abilities. The goal is to have at least one playground will be built in every province and territory.
Here are some of the design features:
- Double-wide ramps for wheelchairs and strollers to roll side-by-side
- Roller slides that eliminate static electricity, making it possible
- Bucket seats with harness swings that provide truck support for those who need it.
- Accessible merry-go-round
- Sensory garden
My kids loved it – especially the size of the park. So much space to explore and play tag.
Getting there: If driving, access Earl Bales Park along Bathurst Ave. The playground is in the northwest corner. There are a couple of parking lots – one that is right next to Jumpstart. On TCC from Sheppard Station, you can take the 196B York University Rocket and travel to Bathurst and walk from there, take the Bathurst 160 bus from Wilson Station, or take the Bathurst 7 bus from up from Bathurst Station.
Earl Bales Park: Let’s talk about the park itself. Earl Bales Park is spread across 127 acres and is home to
- two playgrounds (Jumpstart and right next to it a smaller more common playground which we overheard kids calling the ‘woodchips’ playground)
- sensory garden
- splash pad
- outdoor amphitheatre
- memorials, paved walking and cycling trails
- picnic sites and fire pits
- AND a ski hill!
TRIP TIP: For the history keeners in Tow, Earl Bales Park, named for Robert Earl Bales, a former Mayor of the Township of North York and great-grandson of John Bales who had owned the land and farmed it for a century. You’ll love to see the 1924 Bales house still standing next to the Jumpstart Playground. It was the home of the original Bales family, then home to the private golf groundskeeper after it was sold to become the York Downs Golf and Country Club in the early 1900s, before becoming a public park. It is now used by Russian House Toronto. The area also connects into the West Don Ravine.
In the hood: Downsview Park is short drive to the east. ‘The Hangar’ is home to indoor volleyball, basketball, frisbee and karting (and a vaccination clinic in COVID times.) Downsview Park is kind of going through a renaissance with a naturalized area and urban farm in the works. The parkland area between Keele Street and Sheppard Avenue West has new pedestrian access to Downsview Park and is great for a leisurely stroll, birding and observing wildlife in the southern portion of the William Baker neighbourhood. You can check out all the activities here: https://en.downsviewpark.ca/park
A short drive southeast is The Toronto Botanical Gardens, including the Edward Gardens.