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Sand pit

The Dufferin Park Sandpit

Sand play in history

The first Metro Parks Commissioner, after World War Two, was Tommy Thompson, much beloved for his love of parks and his good sense. (He put up signs in the parks: please walk on the grass.) We're doing some research at the Toronto Archives for this year's annual report, and we came across a speech he gave at a Parks Conference, in which he told his colleagues: "I passed a playground the other day in which I saw a sandbox that I suspect was twelve feet square. To me, this is an insult to the sand area concept. The time has come when we've got to get bigger in our thinking and realize that, when a group of kids want to carry out something that stimulates their imagination - and this is one of the things we should be responsible for promoting - we should be putting in a sand area half as big as this auditorium. We should be putting in the kind of sand that kids can use to build, and we should not only keep it clean every day, but make sure that it's moist enough to do something with."

The "Big Backyard" -- how Dufferin Grove's sandpit developed

Shaded by many tall Norway maples, it's got some stump tables and long logs for balancing, and even some concrete anchors for fastening a circus-stunts cable. But its main joy is the sandpit - an oval of sand about 20 feet wide by 40 feet long, ringed by big wooden logs. It was put into the park in 1993. A bulldozer came and dug a hole about two feet deep, and loaded the dark soil into a couple of Mack trucks, which took it away. Read more >>

Sand pit play

Safety note: back in 1993 there was a community meeting to find out what people wanted in the park. An adventure playground aimed at older kids was high up on the list, and that's how we got the sand pit. But it turns out that all the kids, of all ages, love the sand pit. That's wonderful, but please remember: the older kids have first rights. Grown-ups, if you're worried about your little ones because the playing is too advanced, take them to the little sandbox. Don't get mad at the older kids for using shovels and doing elaborate building projects. On the other hand, every kid using a shovel has to be careful, and most of them are (we have far fewer injuries in the sandpit than in the regular playground). If anyone sees a child who seems to be unaware of how to handle a shovel (swinging it, using it to be pushy, throwing it) any nearby adult has the power to remind the child to be careful or, if there's no improvement, to take the shovel away and find a park staff. Adults used to look out for (and even admonish) other people's kids, not so long ago, and we can do it again.

Sandpit water usage

The sandpit:

One hour of water running out of the sandpit watertap measures as 416 liters (Lee Valley garden hose water meter). The longest that the tap would be running in a day 10 hours: 4160 liters a day. read more

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