Category Archives: Playgrounds Halifax

Round and Round and Round

When my twenty-something daughter was a wee girl, we’d walk hand in hand a few blocks up the street to a small park. The summer sky’s frolicking blue and whispery wisps of cloud were an invitation to the outdoors. The expanse of grass was always a marvelous shade of green speckled with bursts of dandelion and splashes of clover. It was a small patch of play, in a small city, along a small strip of harbour nestled away from the vast ocean’s curling waves.

CurlingWavesPhoto credit – Alexa Cude. Atlantic waves

Invariably on each visit, over a period of several months, we reenacted that children’s classic, The Three Billy Goats Gruff. I was typecast as the troll. My daughter, with nary a missed beat, took on the the role of each of the Goats Gruff in succession with a flourish that only a four-year-old could muster.

There was a perfect little arched bridge leading from one slide platform to another. As the Goats Gruff trip-trapped over the bridge, I would lunge out with a troll-like cry inflected with just the right amount of fright to challenge the saucy Goats Gruff who dared to cross my little stream. Billy Goat Gruff the elder and his trip-trapping, troll trawling ways were always a great canvas for giggles, running and laughter.

3740887053_279d02e05f_o.jpgPhoto credit – Christopher Charles. Three Billy Goats Gruff. License – (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The neighbourhood playground was also a great spot for getting up close and personal with the dirt, throwing stones, picking flowery weeds, chasing butterflies – all those priceless activities whose only subscription fee is time. There were many fine moments for us at Halifax’s Ardmore Park and the most rollicking was certainly the tire swing.


Round and round and round we go
Where we stop nobody knows
Round and round on the tire swing
High in sky like a bird on the wing


Not a million seller this ditty of a tune that’s for sure. It made my daughter and I feel rich beyond compare though as I propelled her through the air with great centrifugal force on an elliptical dipping and dropping trajectory – ‘high in the sky like a bird on a wing’.

The Unorthodox ApproachPhoto credit – Stephanie Sicore. Unorthodox approach. License – (CC BY 2.0).

This vulcanized donut suspended on three chains from a heavy duty swivel hanger was the most grueling, adrenaline-charged ride of the playground. My girl’s appetite for the round and round seemed insatiable. Sometimes when the tire came to a standstill and she unclasped her tiny little fingers from the cold chain links and slipped through the hole tippy toes to the hard-packed earth below she would be a little wobbly.

I never tired of pushing her, or singing the song. It was one of those wonderful simple, timeless pleasures. The playground was made over years ago and the tire swings removed. The song lives on with her younger siblings and will undoubtedly get an airing with her soon-to-be niece

On occasion Alexa and I still find a moment to walk hand in hand but it’s more likely to be a lunch at my office when our schedules permit. She is a wonderful photographer and if you’d like to see some of her work check out seriouslyalexa on instagram. Lots of great photos there including those two much loved scamps in her life, the fearless canine duo – Yeezy and Ace.

Horses with PapsPhoto credit – Alexa Cude. Horses with Scotland’s Paps of Jura in the background

Later today we are celebrating her birthday with a brunch before her lad whisks her away to a mystery destination. Who knows, maybe they’re headed to their local tire swing?

Happy Birthday Alexa
Love Papa

Two nights only ;-)

where has all the playing goneConcept and design – Rachel Hawkes Cameron.

I’m jumping off the digital page early next month and into the Halifax Public Libraries system for a presentation and discussion on playgrounds and play.

Over the course of two evenings, we will look at the history of playgrounds, design, natural play, risk, adventure playgrounds, play advocacy and other topics.

If you’re in the Halifax area, please consider this your invitation to drop by. If anyone has friendly advice on dos and don’ts when presenting about playgrounds and play, drop me a line.

A Year in Play

I traipse our three young ones around to a lot of playgrounds here at home and when we’re on the road. It’s an adventure for all of us – a chance for Noah, Nellie and Lila to test their physical abilities and to hang out with new kids. Play of course doesn’t need a ‘playground’. Play happens anywhere a child is given the freedom to let loose with their imagination and their natural inclinations to fun and discovery.

Waterfront, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Click for slideshow

Being able to witness and take part in their play is one of the huge bonuses of being a parent. It also helps put some of the pressures and frustrations of grown-up life into perspective. I hope you’ll enjoy these few photos that provide a bird’s eye view of our year in play. If you haven’t had the chance lately, do yourself a favour – get out and play.

Up Periscope

Canada’s Nova Scotia shipbuilders have been renowned for centuries for their fine quality vessels. The iconic Bluenose that sailed to victory so frequently in the annual International Fisherman’s Race was built in Lunenburg. But long before the Bluenose ever set sail, there was a strong tradition of building ships destined for work in the North Atlantic and oceans throughout the world.

This summer something new is taking shape on the province’s south shore. A small boatbuilder at Gold River in the Chester Basin is building a land-based submarine. Tern Boatworks will soon complete its first wood and fibreglass sub. The project has been commissioned as a playground for Halifax, Nova Scotia’s downtown waterfront.

Here’s what it looked like one recent afternoon when Bruce and Lucas took us on a tour of the site (click photos for larger image).

The christening date for the new sub, as yet unnamed, is set for sometime this August. We may try and take one more trip down to Tern Boatworks while the build is still underway.

Here is a rendition of the completed play structure by Laurie McGowan of McGowan Marine Design.

Spaceships of various sorts and boats of all kinds are relatively common fare in playgrounds. I’ve only come across one other submarine. This one is located at an abandoned playground at the North Shore Yacht Club, Salton Sea, California.

Photo credit – slworking2 – CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Please drop us a line if you’re aware of any other submarine playgrounds.