We asked you to tell us what about Toronto makes you happy. Your No. 1 choice: High Park, widely considered to be the jewel of Toronto’s vast park system because of its sheer size and variety of offerings.

Not only does High Park provide Torontonians with 399 acres of green space to explore, but it serves as a community gathering spot, where families come to picnic on the grassy areas, friends meet for coffee at the Grenadier Teahouse & Café, couples stroll through the Hillside Gardens, children fish along the banks of Grenadier Pond and joggers tread the wilderness paths.

Dating back to 1836, when John George Howard, an architect and land surveyor for the City of Toronto, bought the land for $1,000 to use as a sheep farm, High Park was named so because it was the highest point along the Humber Bay shoreline.

In 1873, Howard conveyed the property to the city with one condition: The park be “for the free use, benefit and enjoyment of citizens of Toronto forever.”

That’s precisely how it’s been preserved. Over the years, a small zoo, the Animal Paddocks, was built, where families come to check out the resident llamas, peacocks, bison, deer and sheep — as well as playgrounds like the Jamie Bell Adventure Playground, a public swimming pool and other recreational offerings.

The park also attracts bird enthusiasts, who head to Grenadier Pond.

No matter how rapidly Toronto’s skyline changes, this one protected space will remain as it is for the enjoyment of all Torontonians.

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