Guided Tour: Mount Royal's Salamander Playground
Mount Royal is one of the most iconic places in Montreal. A beautiful green space in the heart of the city, topped by Beaver Lake and various lookout points. But, if you think about it, Mount Royal is really mostly a grownups’ park: young children aren’t known for their love of long walks or spectacular views of the city.
Parents who want to introduce their kids to this landmark will be happy to hear there’s a new attraction for under-fivers: the aging playground area recently got a $2-million makeover.
The city officially inaugurated its overhaul of the Salamander playground on May 25, 2009, and opened it to the public in mid June. Ultra-modern playground equipment is waiting to be tried! The new setup, which includes silver climbing structures, swings and more, is laid out in the shape of a salamander. A “Path for the Rights of Children” is part of the area, which is located near Beaver Lake.
The most distinctive characteristic of this playground is that it doesn’t look childish at all – it’s not the typical primary colour spectrum. It’s all done in silver, blue and black, with log benches and a Zen atmosphere. There are also no traditional climbing structures: the ones that have stairs, ladders, slides and various levels. But, kids will get to try some unusual equipment, including an ultra-modern see-saw, a cool “flying saucer” and some mega climbing rocks. The type of equipment here makes the park best for about six months (there are toddler swings and a sand pit) to age 7. There is a water-play area for staying cool on hot days.
Although the area around Beaver Lake has always been a nice spot for a picnicking, kicking a ball around, or sledding in the winter, it’s about time kids had a new perch on the mountain. Before or after a park visit, they can try the pedal boats on Beaver Lake. It costs $8 (at least) for a half-hour rental, and there is often a lineup.
To make a morning/lunch visit to the mountain, you can either bring a picnic or plan to eat at the cafeteria in the Beaver Lake pavillon, where there are also bathrooms (with a changing table). The cafeteria food is great, with choices ranging from healthy snacks to grilled cheese sandwiches to full hot meals (there is also a fancier, bistro-style restaurant in the pavillon). The cafeteria has a beautiful view of the lake.
Beaver Lake, 1260 Remembrance Rd. (view map)
To get there by car:
From the east: Take Camillien-Houde Way from Mount Royal Ave. and continue past the lookout. The cemetery will be on your right and you will see two parking lots on your left. Smith House is at the head of the larger lot. The flashing lights point to the detour to get to Smith House (three storey stone house).
From the west: Take Remembrance Rd. and continue past Beaver Lake. You will come to green signs indicating a large parking lot on your right. Smith House (three storey stone house) is at the head of the parking lot.
Parking: There are pay lots near Beaver Lake.
From Place des Arts metro: Bus 80 or 129 or 535 and 11
From Côte des Neiges metro: Bus 165 or 535 and 11
From Guy Concordia metro: Bus 165 or 535 and 11
If you have bike trailers or childseats on your bicycle, you can take Olmsted Rd. (the main path) to Beaver Lake. Olmsted begins at the monument to George Étienne Cartier on Park Ave. Olmsted Road is connected to Montreal’s bicycle paths from Rachel St.