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HMS Ontario

Custom shipwreck play structure for kids 2 to 12 at Lake Ontario, New York

HMS Ontario is a custom structure for families traveling near Lake Ontario. 

When the state of New York needed a custom playground to commemorate the shipwrecked British warship HMS Ontario (found at the bottom of Lake Ontario after over 200 years), they turned to the queen of creative play structures herself, Barbara Butler. Known for her contributions to all inclusive playgrounds throughout California, Barbara specializes in creating whimsical and beautiful structures that delight children and families. Located at the New York Thruway rest stop Welcome Center, the HMS Ontario play structure sits alongside the site of the actual HMS Ontario wreck.

At Barbara Butler Playhouses, LLC, each custom play structure is carefully designed and built to fully embody the unique site it was created for. In the case of the HMS Ontario, Barbara did extensive research on the original ship and then integrated fun and creative twists to capture kids’ imaginations. The structure is broken up into three shipwrecked parts, each containing different enticing options for kids ready to shake off the boredom of being stuck in the car by sliding, climbing and jumping. These sections are connected by narrow bridges lined with rope net railing so youngsters can move from one to another. A faux “broken” mast can be used as a log bridge, while metal cannon barrels installed in the windows are great fun to peer through.

The inclusive playground design features an ADA transfer step that is visually integrated into the theme by masquerading as cargo boxes, while allowing for accessibility. To accommodate younger players or those with mobility challenges, gentle steps offer an alternative to the ladder and rope net climb options. In addition to the onboard ship’s wheel, there is a second ship’s wheel along the outside for young captains who would like to stay at ground level.

Ornate touches, such as window scrolls and a carved scroll bow stem, bring to mind the bygone era when this ship roamed the waters. Our signature non-toxic tung-oil stain — part of our commitment to sustainable playgrounds — provides a bright and cheerful hue while also protecting the wood from the elements. Commercial outdoor play structures also must be sturdy enough to withstand the high volume of children who come through each day, so high-quality materials and craftsmanship are a hallmark of a project by Barbara Butler Playhouses, LLC.

But this wooden play structure offers kids much more than just a chance to stretch their legs and their imaginations. It is also a starting point for learning about the remarkable history of the British warship HMS Ontario. After only 6 months of ferrying passengers and supplies around Lake Ontario, she sank during a storm, claiming all 120 lives onboard. She was rediscovered in 2008, completely intact. As parents and teachers know, kids learn best by playing, and an afternoon of clambering over this custom replica ensures that kids won’t soon forget the remarkable story of the HMS Ontario.

This structure meets ASTM F1487 Standards for Public Use Playground Equipment and the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act.

Please inquire for details and pricing

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