Archambault Park: 2013-02-03
I grew up in Harbour View South, and there was a park called Harbour View South Recreational Park, now renamed Archambault park. It used to be so fun, everyone would hang out there, even teenagers. It was somewhere to go, you could be in the cabin, or go up on top of the roof. There was a bridge that was pretty fun, you could run across it, or rock it pretty good in the middle. Slides that were actually bigger than a few feet, there were two blue ones and a twirly yellow one. One blue one was about four feet, the other was around 6 or 7 feet. I remember when I was little my mom would go down the bigger slide. There was a pole for sliding down, like a fireman pole. There were monkey bars and wooden platforms. There were numerous ways to climb the structure, you could go up the steps, go up one of the wooden platforms, run up the slide, go up the monkey bars, and there was a rope to one side. You could play on top or underneath, and in games you could divide it into two, with the bridge in the middle. It was a nice wooden structure, it used to be at least seven feet tall, and now they've replaced it with a plastic structure that is maybe 5 feet tall and a lot less wide.
Before it was for everyone, 5 year olds would play on the small slide, they had a big slide for the older kids. Younger kids would go in the cabin, the older ones would hang out on the roof. Children 5-18 would be there, which was especially good when I needed somewhere to go just to kill time. I could just hang out in the cabin for a few hours, or swing the hours away (now the swings are a bit smaller, don't hold adults or teenagers as well). It seems it's now more for 3-10, and no one ever goes there on their own. Sometimes parents take their kids there, but I remember always going on my own and being excited to go there. You could make so many friends there. Whenever we drive by now, it's so much more desolate, there will be parents with kids, but no longer kids just there to have fun.
There used to be one of those merry go rounds that we would play with. The younger kids would hold on while the older kids pushed and ran. They would then jump on when it got going fast enough, and jump down and run some more when it started to slow down too much. They took that away a few years before destroying the wooden structure because it was getting fairly old and wobbly. I wish they had just replaced that with a newer one, as that was a lot of fun.
There used to be a giant field, now mostly a housing development. I remember there was a "forest" there that was kind of the limits of where we played (the grass got way too high). The forest wasn't really a forest, but it was a bunch of trees. We would catch frogs around the pond and another field. I remember once losing a rocket we shot off in the forest and never finding it. I remember the pond we would try to catch fish all the time, never caught anything but we loved to go there and try. We would make toy boats to go sailing in there. We knew there were fish in there because in the spring when the water rose and then came back down it would leave behind a lot of dead fish.
This seems to enforce the idea that the only fun you can have is inside. I remember we would play under and above the structure, and when they added the second cabin we loved it, it was low enough that is was very safe to jump off of, and it was another roof to hang out on. The basketball/tennis court was a great addition, had a lot of fun there when I was a bit older. The swings were nice and big, I would swing with my mom when I was younger, and as I got older I could still fit on them, now they are so small only children can really have fun on them (not talking about the baby ones). It seems they have taken away a lot of the fun of this park, including the pond re-design, and this will only encourage children to stay inside more, or get into trouble somewhere else because there is nowhere else worth going anymore. I remember being 16 or 17 and still going to that cabin to eat Subway, or a nice place to read a book.
It used to be made out of wood and metal and had character, felt like it had history, now it's just another plastic structure, feels like the rest. Before it felt unique, the bridge stood out, now nothing stands out, feels like it came in a box, just assemble and you are done.