One of North America's loveliest parks, High Park (at one time the privately owned countryside "farm" of John George Howard, Toronto's first city architect) is especially worth visiting in summer, when the many special events include professionally staged Shakespeare productions. Hundreds of Torontonians and guests arrive at dinnertime and picnic on blankets before the show. Admission is by donation. Grenadier Pond in the southwest corner of the park is named after the British soldiers who, it's said, crashed through the soft ice while rushing to defend the town against invading American forces in 1813. In summer there are concerts on Sunday afternoons, and there is skating in winter. At the south end of High Park, near Colborne Lodge, is the High Park Zoo, which is open daily from dawn to dusk. It's more modest than the Toronto Zoo but a lot closer to downtown and free. Even young children won't tire walking among the deer, Barbary sheep, emus, yaks, llamas, peacocks,
and buffalo. Colborne Lodge (416/392–6916 C$7 Jan.–Apr., Fri.–Sun. noon–4; May–Aug., Tues.–Sun. noon–5; Sept., weekends noon–5; Oct.–Dec., Tues.–Sun. noon–4) was built more than 150 years ago by Howard on a hill overlooking Lake Ontario. This Regency-style "cottage" contains its original fireplace, bake oven, and kitchen, as well as many of Howard's drawings and paintings. Other highlights of the 398-acre park are a large swimming pool, tennis courts, fitness trails, and hillside gardens with roses and sculpted hedges. There's limited parking along Bloor Street north of the park, and along the side streets on the eastern side. June through August, on the first and third Sundays, free 1.5-hour walking tours depart across the street from Grenadier Restaurant.