Just returned from an “interesting” long weekend in Toronto, Canada. We had reservations for a wheelchair accessible room at the Hilton in the Theater District, which I made in May. When we tried to check in, guess what? No wheelchair accessible room is available, even though I showed them my e-mailed confirmation for that type of room. I was told there were only two wheelchair accessible rooms (in a 600-room hotel!!!) and someone in “central reservations” obviously screwed up.
But things improved from there. The Hilton arranged rooms for us (my wife and two friends) at the Sheraton across the street, which I think was a much nicer hotel. And the Hilton gave us four vouchers for breakfast for all three days of our stay.
On Thursday night we saw the musical “Billy Elliott” at the Canon Theater. A fantastic show at a fantastic venue. Wheelchair seating is available, but I chose an aisle seat and transferred to the theater seat. We had a great dinner in a very accessible restaurant, The Baton Rouge, right across Yonge St. from the theater.
On Friday night we saw a play, “Railway Children” in a temporary theater erected just for this play at the sight of the historic railroad roundtable in the shadow of the CN Tower and the Rogers Center. As a bonus, half of the old roundhouse is now occupied by the Steamwhistle Brewery where free samples of their excellent pilsner are available. I wasn’t thrilled by this production, but it did feature an actual 1850s era actual steam locomotive that was imported from London just for this production. And another bonus was there was no charge for a wheelchair ticket and we got to sit in the front row.
Before the play, we had dinner in an Italian restaurant on the Lk. Ontario waterfront, which features lakeside walking which is all accessible.
On Saturday we went to see the NY Yankees play the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Center. The seats weren’t great, but thankfully they were in the shade on a very hot afternoon. Good wheelchair seating is available along the first and third base lines if you plan far ahead enough to get those seats. But if you save money on the seats, that leaves more money for beer, for which you need a lot of money.
After the game, we ate at a bar/restaurant called Jack Astors. Sidewalk accessible seating is available and there is a lift to take you upstairs if you want to eat inside or use the accessible bathroom. I opted for this and the lift worked fine on the way up. However, things were not pretty in the bathroom. One of their customers (I would venture to guess not a wheelchair user) who had a few too many at the ballgame blew his lunch all over the floor and the door! I decided not to wheel through this mess and called for help. They were very pleasant about doing a nasty job. After using the facility I boarded the lift to join the rest of my party on the sidewalk and I sat there pushing buttons till my fingers were sore, but it wasn’t going anywhere. Three of the wait staff gladly help bump me down the five or six steps back to terra firma and we enjoyed hamburgers and beer.
All in all, a great trip. Toronto is a very walkable city, with almost anything you’d want to do within a 15-square block area of the theater/financial district. Some of the subway stops are accessible by elevator but do some research ahead of time to find out which ones. Streetcars are not accessible and seem to be the main transportation preference for most people. But a word of caution with all the streetcars: most streets have tracks in them. Watch out when crossing streets to keep your small caster wheels free of the tracks!