A Picnic Basket, a Blanket and a Park

June 12, 2018 | Irene

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A picnic basket, a blanket, some warm weather and a park. These are the age-old ingredients for enjoying some down time in a natural urban green space. Although, municipal parks don’t always have to be green.

Municipal parks have long been an accessible and inexpensive getaway for urban dwellers of many socio-economic means. There are thousands of municipal parks in the province of Ontario. Historically, for the working class they were often the only respite from the heat and oppression of the city during the summer.

Some municipal parks are expansive like Rockcliffe Park in Ottawa which covers 137 hectares.

Or Toronto's High Park. A sprawling 400 acres of mostly natural landscape including the magical black oak savannah. You can take in the cherry blossoms, explore some trails or participate in some amazing educational programs for all ages through the Nature Centre.

Parks can also be a great place to escape to in the winter... but we don't have to think about that right now.

Others parks like Craigleigh Gardens in Rosedale, Toronto are somewhat secluded gems off the beaten path. Bordered on the north by Mud Creek and the ravine, the trees in this park always seem to hold a breeze. 

As well as open space and wildlife, many parks also contain trails, beaches and some waterfront. Hamilton's parks are rich with these features.

Springbank Park is the largest park in London, Ontario which is also known as the 'Forest City'. Originally just outside of the city and a popular weekend destination London's citizens would travel the banks of the Thames River to Springbank by rail, steamer and eventually by streetcar and horse-drawn bus. The streetcar was put in after London experienced its worst maritime disaster, the sinking of the steamer Victoria on May 24, 1881. The steamer was returning along the Thames from Springbank Park to London's downtown when its boiler was shaken loose and crashed through the decks. It is estimated that over 200 people died in this disaster. To learn more about this maritime disaster and other history about London, Ontario visit the Ivey Family London Room Digital Collections of the London Public Library.

If you happen to be road tripping near Peterborough and need a break check out Jackson Park. Whether you want to spread out a blanket, do some hiking or just listen to the trees this is a beautiful park to visit. The Pagoda Bridge pictured below has been restored and is now designated a heritage property.


This summer no matter where your travels take you, or don't, be sure to make use of one of these green spaces near you. They are everywhere. 

Explore more postcards of parks across Ontario from Toronto Public Library's Digital Archive.

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