- High Park
High Park is the largest park in
Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It spans 161 hectares(398 acres, 1.61 km²) in the city's west end. It stretches south from Bloor StreetWest, west of Parkside Drive and east of Ellis Park Road and Grenadier Pond south to The Queensway, just north of Lake Ontario. It is a mixed recreational and natural park, with sporting facilities, cultural facilities, educational facilities, gardens, playgrounds and a zoo.
In 1873, John George Howard, architect, engineer and land surveyor, and his wife Jemima Howard agreed to convey their convert|160|acre|km2|sing=on country property to the City of Toronto. In 1876 a convert|120|acre|km2|sing=on portion of the Howard's property formed the original park. The remaining southern 40 acres, including Colborne Lodge passed to the city after John Howard's death in 1890. In 1876 the city added convert|176|acre|km2 bought from Percival Ridout east of the Howard farm. The western addition of convert|71.8|acre|m2 added in 1930 was purchased from the Chapman estate. The Howards named their property High Park as it was situated on the highest point of land along the
Humber Bayshoreline. Howard designed Colborne Lodge, their Regency-style picturesque cottage in 1837 to complement its natural surroundings. Due to a condition in the Howards' conveyance forbidding the consumption of alcoholin the park, High Park is the last "dry" area of the City of Toronto, and its seasonal restaurant and banquet hall is one of the few unlicensed premises in the city. Other conditions of the Howards' conveyance were that the City hold the park "for the free use, benefit and enjoyment of the Citizens of Toronto for ever and to be called and designated at all times thereafter High Park". Contrary to common belief the conveyance never included a stipulation that the park revert to the Howard Family's heirs if a Roman Catholic held the office of mayor. Fact|date=February 2008Today, Colborne Lodge is a museum containing many of the original Howard furnishings including John Howard's watercolours of early Toronto. The museum is open year-round.
The city council voted 13 to 2 to accept the Howard's conditions. The two dissenters felt the park was too far away from the city to be of any use to its citizens. As the city grew, the park became more central and it was soon served by the College Street street-car line. In 1968 the Bloor-Danforth subway line opened and it included the subway stop at the park's northern border.
The landscape in the park is very hilly with two deep north-south ravines. Its terrain is varied, with manicured gardens in the western side, an open prairie in the centre and unkempt forest in the east.
Between these extremes, several developed areas exist for sports fields, playgrounds, a swimming pool, a nature school, sculpture garden, vegetable gardens, a greenhouse, a small zoo, and restaurants.
Grenadier Pond is located at its western edge. The pond is named according to the local myth that British Grenadiers fell through its thin ice when crossing to defend the city in the
War of 1812. Other myths include that the pond is 'bottomless', that is, its depth cannot be measured due to the amount of mud.
Today, Grenadier Pond is home to multiple species of bird and marsh wildlife. Fish caught in the pond are safe to eat, and fishing derbies and casting contests have been held there.
The park has a stretch of open habitat called
oak savannah, of which there are few other examples in Ontario. The savannah is under the special care of the City and volunteer conservationists. The towering black oak trees found throughout High Park are a characteristic of this habitat.
Numerous buried rivers course within the park's boundaries. In 2003, city workers found strong evidence of the pre-glacial Laurentian River System when capping two artesian wells. The wells began spewing a plume of water, sand, shale and gravel 15 metres into the air. With this discovery, geologists finally pinpointed the southern terminus of this ancient river system whose southerly flow begins near Georgian Bay. The watercourse, flowing 50 metres below the surface in pure bedrock, has remained undisturbed for thousands of years.
The park includes several attractions, including a set of baseball diamonds, tennis courts, several playgrounds, hillside gardens, a zoo (not a petting zoo) and a "trackless train" — a tractor that tows two wagons decorated to look like a red and white train and Colborne Lodge; a year-round museum. High Park is also home of an outdoor municipal swimming bath complex that includes a
splash pad. The park is also home to the High Park Nature Centre, a non-profit organization run by High Park Initiatives (the park's charitable organization). The Nature Centre offers nature appreciation and park stewardship programs to local schools, community groups and families throughout the year. The blooming of the Cherry Blossom trees in late April - early May is not to be missed!
In the south-east corner of the park, an 'adventure playground' for children was assembled by volunteers.
hakespeare in the park
During the summer, the
Canadian Stagecompany puts a Shakespearean play in the park's amphitheatre. This annual event, called " [http://www.canstage.com/2007-2008/content.php?ID=64 Dream in High Park] ", is popular with Torontonians.
High Park also lends its name to two official neighbourhoods of the City of Toronto, High Park-Swansea and
High Park Northadjoining the Park. High Park-Swansea encompasses the area west of Roncesvalles Avenue, to Bloor Street on the north, and the Humber River on the west. High Park North encompasses the area to the east of Runnymede Road, north of Bloor Street, north to Annette and Humberside, and east to the CNR/CPR rail way lines east of Dundas Street.
* [http://www.toronto.ca/demographics/cns_profiles/cns88.htm High Park North neighbourhood profile]
* [http://www.toronto.ca/demographics/cns_profiles/cns87.htm High Park-Swansea neighbourhood profile]
* [http://individual.utoronto.ca/aaronorear/birds.html Birds in High Park]
* [http://www.city.toronto.on.ca/parks/highpark.htm City of Toronto's High Park website]
* [http://www.toronto.ca/culture/colborne.htm Colborne Lodge]
* [http://www.highpark.org High Park Community Advisory Council]
* [http://www.phototravelpages.com/canada/ontario/high-park.html High Park photo gallery]
* [http://www.city.toronto.on.ca/parks/highpark/map_highpark.pdf.pdf Map of High Park]
* [http://www.highpark.org High Park Nature Centre]
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