Help me entertain my senior Deaf shutterbug in-laws in Toronto
August 12, 2009 6:04 AM   Subscribe

My in-laws from Austin are visiting us in TO for the first time; we moved here a month ago. They are in their late 70s and Deaf. My mom-in-law is up for anything, but dad-in-law can't walk more than a couple of blocks (back problems), doesn't like museums, likes football but not baseball, is not a foodie or a drinker, and loves to take videos. He likes the water and man-made wonders.

We live in downtown and have a car. We interpret for them on tours, but music, etc. is out. We're planning on Niagara, CNTower, and a harbour cruise. (The Hippo tour thing seems expensive, so I'm not sure it's worth it.)

I've heard there's somewhere on the escarpment where you can get out an see the city/view, but I don't know where that it and whether it'll take a hike.

Suggestions for divey home cooking or burgers with local colour close to attractions or interesting old neighborhoods useful, too.

They'll be here Wednesday through Tuesday. Thanks!
posted by mdion to Travel & Transportation around Toronto, ON (11 answers total)
I have no answers now that I've re-read the post and realized they are coming from Austin, not going to Austin, but I was going to ask: can your father-in-law stand comfortably for any length of time, and does he use a wheelchair/walker/other mobility assistance? That information might help other people with suggestions.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:15 AM on August 12, 2009

Your dad likes football, the water, and man-made wonders? Hope I'm not stating the obvious, but it sounds like a trip up the CN Tower followed by the Argos game this Friday was tailor-made for him.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 6:46 AM on August 12, 2009

Also, Johnny G's in Cabbagetown definitely qualifies as divey home cooking with good burgers in an interesting neighbourhood, but the neighbourhood is definitely walk-heavy... although I suppose you could do a car tour if you weren't in a hurry.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 6:50 AM on August 12, 2009

If he likes man-made wonders and water, you definitely need to take him to the Welland Canal Locks! Especially since you're already heading down to Niagara.
posted by yawper at 7:10 AM on August 12, 2009

Yeah, seconding the Welland Canal -- minimal walking required.
posted by the dief at 9:22 AM on August 12, 2009

The story of hydroelectric plants in Niagara is really fascinating. There was huge controversy, including a feud between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. Edison actually electrocuted animals in public to show the (false) danger of alternating current. Telsa countered by running current through his own body to power light bulbs.

I'm not sure about the Canadian power project, but there are exhibits at the power project on the American side. There's also a really nice lookout where you can see the Canadian power project and the river.

Here's detailed history from Niagara Frontier.

And here's a link to the visitor's center on the American side: Niagara Power Project.
posted by betsybetsy at 9:29 AM on August 12, 2009

Have you thought about doing an overnight via Niagra Falls? Maybe go to the Falls, spend the day there, stay over at Niagra on the Lake and then do the Welland Canal? (NOL is pretty nifty.)
posted by DarlingBri at 10:56 AM on August 12, 2009

I would suggest a bit of a drive, up Hwy 10/Hurontario to the Forks of the Credit. Stop in at the Belfountain Conservation park to see a mini-Niagara falls. There is quite a bit to see close to the parking lot and if he wants to sit and enjoy the falls while the rest of you hike a little bit into the escarpment everyone wins. Alternatively (or in addition to) I would suggest a drive out to Halton Conservation parks. If you take the Appleby exit off the QEW north for about twenty minutes through farmland you will go right up the edge of the escarpment at Rattlesnake Point (awesome views of Toronto about 40km away) but you can't the stop the car on the narrow windy road. At the top of the hill is the Rattlesnake Point park where the actual Point is less than ten minutes walk (for a healthy adult) from the parking lot and on a smooth, groomed trail. It does cost to get in but if you pay for one Halton Conservation park you get free admittance to all other parks for the day. Close by - about a 20 minute drive, is Crawford Lake Halton Conservation park. It has a reconstructed First Nations village and a nice walk around the lake. They rent out really cool wheelchairs that you could push him in if he was up to it (the paths are groomed and wheelchair accessible). It is a nice way to see how the geography of this area is different to Texas. Nearby is Milton which has a large Deaf community and there may be community events of interest to them. Stop for ice cream somewhere (or lunch in Lowville) and you have a nice day out. This is my 'hood so feel free to mefimail if you need more details or find my directions confusing.

In Niagara Falls the parks pass is less than $40, includes free admission to a lot of attractions and reduced admission to the Beck generating plant and includes a free peoplemover bus and not too much walking with lots of shaded benches to rest. Seconding the Welland Locks!
posted by saucysault at 11:12 AM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nthing the Welland Locks.
posted by brianogilvie at 1:30 PM on August 12, 2009

Thanks, these are good suggestions. He's not really mobility impaired, but walking more than a couple of blocks would end up making his back hurt. He'd do it (hell, he still rides his motorcycle), but probably shouldn't.

Which reminds me, an informal hotrod or motorcycle get together (these happen around Austin on the weekends in certain parking lots, but nothing really organized) where he could check out cars/bikes would be cool. Or a car/boat show, too.

Thanks all!
posted by mdion at 5:17 PM on August 12, 2009

Everytime I go to the Forks there is an informal gathering in Belfountain of people from the motorcycling world. It is one of the most popular motorcycling roads in the GTA.
posted by saucysault at 7:34 PM on August 12, 2009

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