150623 Centreville - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

Three photos from a recent trip to the Centreville amusement park on the Toronto Islands.


This is the photo that I keep coming back to. There's an odd poetry in the pattern of the phrases; the hand-painted letters and irregular kerning adds an unconscious rhythm and emphasis.

Most rides are marked with a line or a bar that we needed to reach; I remember longing to be able to take the rides I was too small for, and the eternity of immediate-time that would need to pass before I could try again. But for the Pony Ride that line becomes a barrier; childhood is a time of ambition and disappointment.

It'a not hard to remember my childhood visits to Centreville – nothing there has really changed.


Time at Centreville really has stood still. The rides and games all show wear, which I enjoy, but there are other signs that the park is from another era. I can't imagine this camel race, with the riders painted in colourful garb and the same grey-brown skin tone as their mounts, being installed today. "After Race" is an elusive moment.

The instructions for this game does provide my favourite out-of-context phrase of life advice: Keep Rolling Ball To Advance Camel.


The full sign reads "Caution Horses Bite", but I like it better this way.

The sign is worn down from people – children, mostly, presumably – standing on it to be able to get closer to the horses. While sensibilities have changed in other ways since Centreville and Far Enough Farm were established, there's something oddly reassuring that it's still possible to have dangerous animals in a petting zoo.


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