In October 2013, my mother-in-law offered to take our wee family on holiday to visit Tracy’s brother, his wife and our new niece in Canada. I was excited at the opportunity to go somewhere I’d never been and have an adventure. Unfortunately the word came too late and my work wouldn’t allow me the last minute holiday (bastards).
Ever selfless, I told Tracy to take the wee one and go without me, I’d stay home with the dog – fair trade eh?
They went and had a fantastic time. I worked, drank beer and binged Breaking Bad on Netflix on my Nintendo Wii as my laptop had just broken. It’s clear who the true winner was here.
Time passed as it tends to do, and by 2018 the wee one was a little less wee and our relatives over the pond had seen their family grow a little bigger. I now had two nieces! It felt like the right time to visit, so we booked our flights, raided Primark and set off to Canada. Our dog Reno went to live with my mum for a few weeks.
The flight was a little over six hours, flying direct from Glasgow Airport to Toronto. The inflight entertainment kept us all busy and the wee one was no hassle at all. Our family lived in a town called Dundas, an hour or so from the Pearson International Airport in Toronto.
My sister-in-law Gemma came to collect us, loading our belongings and my wheelchair onto the back of their colossal Dodge Ram. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen a car this big back home, I doubt it would even fit on the roads.
The journey to Dundas left me surprised at how much open space there was. I’ve no idea why but I expected building upon building but everything seemed to spread out. I counted 12 Tim Hortons on the way, probably missing another 12 on the other side.
We got to their house, a three story town house, not the best with my legs but certainly welcoming where we met our nieces. It was great to see them, and Winter clicked with them instantly. It’s funny how despite the distance, they were so close, it was as though they’d grown up together.
We spent a lot of time with our relatives, enjoying it very much but we fancied a family adventure at the same time so we booked a hotel at Niagara Falls for one night and in Toronto for another night.
In this post we’ll focus on our trip to Niagara falls, with a second blog on Toronto and a few other things that happened when we were away to come.
I’d always thought of Niagara Falls as just a big waterfall but it was so much more, as I’d soon find out. One thing that surprised me was how accessible everything seemed to be, the ground was mostly level, with cable cars to take you down to the parkway, a long promenade overlooking the falls. We took a stroll, peered down at the immense drop and posed.
We took our time and wandered around, stopping in Tim Hortons, because it’s the law, and making our way up to the attractions at Clifton hill, that bit required a push up a hill (courtesy of Tracy).
We stopped off at a sports bar for a snack and a pitcher of beer… what? I was on holiday. And found our way to the big wheel located a Clifton Hill to get a better look at those falls in preparation for a boat trip the next day.
The area itself is well paved and comfortable to manoeuvre in a manual wheelchair but there’s a fair amount of hilly sections that can be a struggle if you don’t have someone with you.
Now, I’d be doing it a total disservice by likening the area to Blackpool, but sadly that’s the strongest comparison I can make. There are loads of stores, souvenir shops, attractions and a general fun vibe about the place. Though it has a wee bit more class (sorry Blackpool!).
The wheel went around more times than I cared to count, but it gave us time to take photos, have a laugh and see the falls from another vantage point. I needed to use my walking stick to get into the cab, but if memory serves there was a fair amount of assistance on hand, so I’m sure we could have worked something out.
We then stopped off at the Rainforest Café for an overpriced and underwhelming meal. It’s no secret that I like my beer but I need to be plain, the Niagara Falls Brewery lager is absolutely awful. All the flavour is in the aftertaste, which is just unpleasant. I wouldn’t recommend it, but it was fun to eat somewhere with a jungle theme and animal noises in the background.
We also bought the wee one a drink which came in plastic parrot cup. It was only when we got home that we noticed the sticker on the bottom that mentioned the cup was made of a type of plastic that was banned in California due to the inclusion of a chemical that could result in infertility. SO THAT WENT IN THE BIN! – Why the hell are they giving these to children?
Our wander back to the hotel saw us catch the fireworks and the falls at night, a lovely surprise.
The next day we set sail for the Falls aboard a ship named the Hornblower. I decided not to take my chair for this part as I wasn’t sure of the accessibility, and I felt up for it after using my chair for the whole of the previous day. I kinda wish I hadn’t in retrospect as the boat was accessible, allowing disabled passengers on first.
At the time I mostly used my chair to conserve my energy, giving me a bit more time on my feet when I need it but I’ll remember that for when we go back, which I’m sure we will.
If I had to describe the falls in one word. It’d be magnificent. From the roar of falls to the spray that coats you as you sail, you can feel its power. In fact it was hard to see through the spray in our eyes, as we just had to be at the front of the ship, but it was incredibly exciting.
The falls were clearly the highlight of this adventure but I gave myself a fright through my own impatience. Walking (rolling) down the street, we were stuck behind a wall of slow moving tourists. I decided to race around them, only to lose control of my chair, tumble off the pavement and onto the road. The chair was on it’s side, and I was no longer in it.
Guess who helped pick me up?
The same tourists I’d tried to over take, and Tracy of course. Be patient folks! I’ve put together a short video of our trip below, I hope you enjoy it.
Keep an eye out for part 2 to see our time in Toronto and other highlights, and to find out just what’s going on in the picture below! 💩
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Thoroughly enjoy this Joe. Well done. Wonderful family memories. ❤