PlayGroundology’s Roots

Just back from a trip to Mé’s hometown, Sorel, Quebec. It also happens to be the birthplace of PlayGroundology. The three wee ones, Mé and I spent the Easter weekend with Mé’s immediate and extended family. It’s always great to get there and be welcomed into the fold. And the kids, well they jump for joy every time we hit the road to visit les grands-parents. I’m right there with them, I understand their excitement. For all of us Sorel is ‘play central’.

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It doesn’t seem to matter what time of the year we arrive, playfulness is in the air. The maestro, the impressario is grand-papa Raymond. The now retired primary school physical education teacher knows how to hit all the right notes. And we of course have the gift of stepping outside of our domestic and professional daily routines.

In July of 2008 we spent some quality time hanging out in Sorel. Raymond got Noah-David and I out to different playgrounds almost every day. At nearly three-years-old, Noah was adventurous and wanted to try everything. He was a climber, a slider, a swinger… Those couple of weeks with Raymond made up the most concentrated burst of playgrounding we had ever done and the first time we had visited a series of playgrounds day after day.

Started herePlayGroundology started here

The sun drenched weather, the fun and simplicity of the activities and the Ville de Sorel’s posting of playground locations online inspired me. In the summer of 2009, I started blogging about Halifax, Nova Scotia’s playgrounds in Halifax Plays.

As I started to explore, I gained an appreciation of the richness and variety of the playground world – design, landscaping, preservation, community engagement and of course the intrinsic value of play itself. It was clear that there was an abundance of interesting historical and contemporary stories to share from a variety of international sources. PlayGroundology made its debut six months after Halifax Plays hit the streets.

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There was enough warmth in the air this Easter weekend for a couple of playground excursions. We took the five minute walk through the ‘magic pathway’ (a pedestrian connector between two streets) over to Parc des Trembles. This playground, one of our favourite stops in Sorel, is a like an old friend even though it’s over 1,000 kilometeres from our Halifax home. We know the swings, slides and obstacle course like the back of our hands. The familiarity brings comfort, warmth and even after all these visits a tinge of excitement. There is as much love, memories and milestones invested in this park as any of our local playgrounds in Nova Scotia.

We made time to get over to grand-papa’s old school too. We all wound up with soakers as our feet crashed through a thin layer of ice and into shallow puddly pools below. It wasn’t enough to deter us from scampering about the old equipment or trying out the new gargantuan multi-climber.

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There was plenty more play during those few days in Sorel – horseback riding with the cousins, swimming, floor hockey and a trip to Brossard to see the Montreal Canadiens practice. We love the time we spend together in Sorel’s playgrounds. They’ll always have a special place in our hearts.

7 responses to “PlayGroundology’s Roots

    • Nigel – thanks for the reblog. Love that photo of the 3 kids looking out of the hollowed trunk of tree and the other one with the necklace of grass. Are they yours? Would I be able to use them on my PlayGroundology FB Page and credit you? Cheers, Alex

      • Hi Alex- feel free to use the garlanded child pic as I got this from a Facebook share. The other one is from ‘outdoor nation’ – see themk on facebook, as i think the site might interest you- you’ll need to check copyright on that one. Have you taken a look at my own play area designs?;)

      • Hi Nigel, thanks for the tips on those sites and photos. I’ll be sure and check out your work. I always enjoy connecting with people who help make play for children possible. Just 3 celsius here now in Canada’s Far East with wind whipping up from Halifax Harbour. The skies are blue and birds are returning to nest. I can almost taste spring. Cheers

  1. Hi- enjoyed your post. The snow is just about leaving us here in Norfolk, UK, spring is in the air (if a little late). I’ve featured some of the play landscape designs/projects I’ve completed in the UK on my blog ‘Old School Garden’- you might be interested to take a look (see page on play landscapes and search this term for examples)- http://www.audaxdesign.co.uk🙂

  2. Wow. Those are such pretty playgrounds. I feel like I never see those cool rope climbing walls anymore!

    • Hi Amy, there are quite a few nice playgrounds in Sorel. It doesn’t matter the time of year we always get out to a few few when we visit. Keep up the good work on your blog. Cheers, Alex

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