Category Archives: Parks

Flashback: Brewer Park

We love hearing about the great parks around the city. What’s yours?

by Sara

Despite several nearby parks, we regularly make the trek from Orleans to Old Ottawa South to take the boys to Brewer Park.  Its located across the street from Carleton University, tucked away behind the City of Ottawa Brewer Complex.  There is a large parking lot off Bronson Avenue but you can also park on the many shaded side streets off Sunnyside Avenue, which are right beside the park.  If you use the parking lot, you need to walk across two soccer fields to access the park.

Brewer Park is divided into five areas:

1) A  fenced-in (but not impervious to adventurous toddlers) area with two play structures suitable for the littlest members of the family.  The fire truck play structure is a big hit with my two boys.

2) A play structure on rubber mats for preschool children

3) A multi-level splash pad (there is a large ramp and bridge to access the upper level and water slide)

4) A larger play structure for elementary aged children

5) A sandy area with wheel-chair accessible sand tables, activity walls, and swings.

There are also several shady spots to set-up blankets for snack time and picnics as well as one large covered picnic area in the middle of the park.  The only disadvantage is that the play structure for older children is separated from the rest of the park (by the splash pad), which makes it hard to supervisor children of different ages.  One last important detail: there are (clean) washroom’s located next to the toddler area.

What I love most about Brewer Park is the variety.  Both my boys have very different interests and Brewer is one of the few parks where they are easily occupied, entertained, and safe.  Their play structures have fewer death-defying drops and are generally safer for small kids, which is one of the drawbacks of our neighbourhood parks.  My 2-year-old can explore and climb without me hovering right behind him.  While my four-year old love splash pads, my 2-year old hates spraying water; however, at Brewer there is a splash pad and water slide, which means they’re both happy to play in the water.

Unlike a lot of parks in new suburban areas, the play structures at Brewer are protected by shade (depending on the time of day), which makes it a great place to visit on really hot and humid days.  It’s often busy because camps and daycare’s frequent the park so be prepared to keep a close eye on your kids, as its easy to lose them in the melee of swim-suited bodies running around.

Sara is a photographer and mom to a 6-year-old ” firefighter”, 4-year-old “monkey”, and a third boy, “bug”, due in May.  You can also find her at her blog, My Points of View.

Flashback: My Park: St. Luke’s Park

Over the last two years we’ve had some great park reviews.  If you would like to submit a post about your park we’d love to share it with our readers!  Email us at kidsinthecapital(at)gmail(dot)com

by Zach

St. Luke’s Park might not look like much if you’re walking by on Elgin Street, but it certainly is worth checking out.

For kids and parents, the layout of the main area is nearly perfect. The park has a wading pool in the centre, which can be its own play area for hockey / soccer / random ball games for ten months of the year (though a concrete, uneven one, so toddlers might need some watching), and a well-supervised swimming area while the public schools are out. For some reason, swimming season ends near the middle of August, so try to get the most out of July that you can. As of summer 2009 many of the lifeguards there have been working for several seasons, are well-known among the parents, and are excellent with the kids.

There are some trees providing shade, but sight lines are still great within the main area. There are two play structures on the south side, a smaller one for kids aged 2 to 5, and a larger one for 5 to 12-year olds. On a busy day, try to count the two- and three-year olds flinging themselves down the twisty slide on the larger structure.

Both play structures are exceptionally well-designed, with plenty of climbing surfaces and slides. They’re easily my favourite play structures of all the parks we visit.

The surface on the south side of the park is sand, which allows for castles, soft falls, and moats made with swimming pool water, for the really motivated.

The west side has three swing sets, for babies, mediums, and big kids. The small and medium swings are old school, facing in just one direction, and set low to the ground to maximize the swinging arc and parental back pain. The swings have great shade from nearby trees, and the St. Louis Bar and Grill right behind will torture you with smells of fried food. The Second Cup is right next door for quick caffeine hits.

The north side of the park is a large grassy area, with a picnic table. The city quietly and quickly hacked down a beautiful old growth tree in the summer of 2009, so the area isn’t nearly as shaded as it once was. We’ll give the city the benefit of the doubt as to why it had to go, but that tree is sorely missed, and its scrawny replacement is probably something your great-grandkids will enjoy. The grass tends to be under-used, except when the pool is open, when finding a free patch of grass for your beach towel becomes challenging.

The east half of the park is taken up with a basketball court, field house, and then another grassy space between the field house and some tennis courts. Kids who aren’t paying attention, or who want to use the field house bathroom (open when the swimming pool is open), might dart into the middle of a game, so keep an eye out.

The grassy area in the east half of the park is a blessing and a curse. It’s an old bowling green, and it’s nice to have a dog-free, relatively level play area. You can see Frisbee, soccer, football, yoga, and boot camp fitness classes being held there, but bigger kids can also dart behind the field house and out of a parent’s view with remarkable speed.

Overall, St. Luke’s is an excellent park, and the number of parents and kids there on a nice day (and even less nice days) speaks to its well-deserved popularity.

Zach is the dad of a 3.5 year daughter “the girl” and eighteen month old son “the boy”. Zach doesn’t have his own blog but he is blogged about at Capital Mom.

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A Company of Fools: Shakespeare for everyone

by Coreen

Last summer we spent an evening in the park with four enchanted lovers,
a fairy or three, a king, queen and a donkey.

A Company of Fools dropped by our neighbourhood park for a performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream, and as we’ve come to expect it was entertaining for kids and adults alike. They certainly have a knack for ‘de-stuffing’ Shakespeare and appealing to everyone. The physical comedy (popping balloons anyone?) appealed to the younger children and the little things like the MC describing one of the actors as a long-form census taker (unemployed) got the adults chuckling. But back to the popping balloons:
Midsummer night and all that

These are all-ages shows. Our 2.5 year old was captivated by the whole
thing, and we brought her the year before, and even when I was pregnant
*g*. Last year she watched the audience, she watched the picnickers
(note to self: Bring a snack this time. She was watching two boys behind
us so intently they finally offered her one of their crackers – little
mooch!), and she even watched the show. She stood on my lap and clapped
every time they popped a balloon. I was amazed that she didn’t lose it
during the 1.5 hour show. We sat back far enough that she had room to
play in front of us, and that kept her happy. She was finally moved to
the point of using one of her purses as a prop for her own re-enactment:

The littlest fool

This year between July 4th and August 20th they are putting on
‘Shakespeare’s funniest tragedy’ Antony and Cleopatra and I cannot wait to attend a show! Chances are there’s an Ottawa performance near you, their schedule is in that link above. Since we missed the show in our new neighbourhood, I’m torn between the one they’re holding in our old neighbourhood, and the one in Hintonburg…maybe we’ll hit both!

Here are some ‘pro tips’ for first timers (and the perennially disorganized (aka me)):

-This ain’t your high-school Shakespeare (in case you didn’t get that
from the pics), they are comedic interpretations (the ‘Fool’s twist’)
and all ages are welcome.
-The shows start at 7, so for many of you, be prepared to ditch bedtime,
but it’s totally worth it. Shows are about 1.5 hours long, but it’s an
open air park, so leave if you need to.
-Bring lawnchairs or blankets to sit on. Also, bugspray if there’s no
helpful breeze.
-As I mentioned bring snacks, I plan on looking like the got-it-together
parent this year.
-Shows are free but they do suggest a donation of $10 – well worth it. V
loved bringing the money to the actors as they pass the hat at the end
of the show.
-Prepare to be entertained by the great acting and choreography, all
forms of comedy, lightning fast costume changes and always be on the
lookout for that moment where the actors amuse themselves and lose it a
bit on stage – my favourite part.

Hope you can make it out to a show!

Coreen is a geriatric mother living with her husband (hubby) and
3.5 year old daughter (V). She works in IT Security but doesn’t yet know
what she wants to be when she grows up. She’s a contributor at Losing It In Ottawa and she blogs at One Day this Blog will have a Snazzy Name (and is open to naming suggestions because – really.)