TITLE: Peace Garden play area an interactive, hands-on experience
CAPTION: Sample photo renderings of the new Children’s Nature Play Area to be complete by this June
The newest addition to the International Peace Garden is the Children’s Nature Play Area, centrally located near the formal channel and the newly expanded Conservatory complex, connecting the three main attractions as a centre for family activity.
The Children’s Nature Play Area will feature distinct animal habitat ‘play zones’ with unique characteristics and interactive learning opportunities, each ‘zone’ named after a natural woodland animal that live in the area.
The play area is built within an already existing forest grove, an authentic setting, to encourage ‘fun and imaginative play while teaching about the animals, plants, history and indigenous culture of the Turtle Mountains through a storytelling approach,’ states the Peace Garden website.
“It’s a beautiful project that a lot of great thought went into,” shares CEO, Tim Chapman.
The beaver and muskrat zone will feature bridges and beaver dams and lodges. A domed-shape series of metal rings make for the basic structure of a beaver lodge. “We’ll take plant material from the Garden and weave it through so that it actually looks like a beaver lodge,” he explains.
Chapman notes that this metal beaver lodge structure is only one of the few places where metal is used. “We’re really proud of the fact that a lot of the lumber that’s being incorporated into the play area is actually from trees on site, so it’s been a real sustainable project as much as we could.”
The turtle zone will be a climbing structure where children can climb up ladders or nets and slide down the turtle’s tail. “As they climb up to the top of the turtle, kids are going to kick up the wild mint that’s planted there which will release an aroma,” he explains.
The hawk and eagle zone will feature two nests to climb into. “An entire family can climb into the nests and pretend that they’re the bird family,” says Chapman. “We have lots of big birds and birds of prey up here so that will speak to that part of the animal life.”
The wolf zone has been designed as a gathering circle with a granite boulder fire ring at its center and 13 seats on each side of it, signifying the 13 moons in a year.
The designer worked closely with the Garden’s indigenous partners to try to incorporate as much as possible themes that are relevant to the Frist Nations people of the area. Even though we count 12 months in a year, technically the moon travels around the earth 13 times within that year. Many First Nations people believe these 13 lunar cycles are depicted on the shell of the turtle.
A fitness zone will be patterned after the fox.
“These incredible projects speak to making the Garden into more of an inclusive family environment,” he shares. “It’s always been a great place for families and a lot of the locals and the families across Manitoba and North Dakota can speak to that. But we wanted to shore up with the new play area was a family-focused attraction right in the heart of the Garden right next to the formal area and the Conservatory, which is also home to our café and gift shop, patios that are great for event spaces.”
“So, it’s really an all-sensory experience throughout the play area,” adds Chapman.