Bannerman Park Digger


Bannerman Park Playground

“Sand is an excellent means of expression for young people,” lauds a 1925 article in the Newfoundland Quarterly on the Playground and Recreation Association in St. John’s. “From early in the morning until dusk children may be found building away with a seriousness which to an adult is amusing. And all that is needed is a few loads of sand and when possible some little pails and shovels.”

Late last summer a small yellow and red sand digger was installed in the Bannerman Park playground and has been attracting aspiring heavy machinery operators to it ever since.

The St. John’s Parks and Services Division manages most local playgrounds, and Brian Head of the Parks Division tells me as neighbourhood demographics change, the city will often install new equipment in a playground in order to better reflect the needs of a particular park. Residents may, perhaps, suddenly find they need a lot of baby swings and not so many monkey bars, for example. Bannerman Park, being a high-use site with a variety of visitors, is continuously undergoing revisions. Another busy area is Bowering Park, which is to be redeveloped this summer to feature new and accessible equipment for children with a variety of skill and ability levels.

On a sunny Saturday afternoon stakeout, a friend and I spied many curious children approaching the digger. Some were too small to reach both the handles and the seat, opting instead to stand up and play with it backwards or to abandon the mechanics entirely and forlornly push the bucket end in the gravel for a while. It held the longest fascination for a group of taller young boys who seemed to be having a blast flicking bucketfuls of gravel at each other.

“I haven’t seen anyone yet try to make a pile,” says Mark about the digger.

Later this year, a small structure for 2-5 year olds is to be built in the park. If you have suggestions for your area, contact the Department of Public Works and Parks by phoning 311.

—Erin McKee
Suggestion for a nook? nooks@thescope.ca

5 comments

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1 August 2007

  1. Geoff · August 1, 2007

    I think the digger is great concept that is poorly constructed. It has already had a bolt lost/stolen that rendered it useless for a couple of weeks. The controls require someone really tall to comfortably use it. I am 6’2 and find the reach required to be excessive, I know first hand how forlorn the little ones get when they can’t make it work.