29 Apr 2011
Melinda Cheevers, Staff
Apr 28, 2011 - 11:25 AM
Exploring NOTL's ghosts
Museum of Paranormal opens on Queen Street
Museum of the Paranormal. Stephanie (left) and Daniel Cumerlato opened Canada's first Museum of the Paranormal in Niagara-on-the-Lake last month. Passerbys have reported hearing this piano, located in the gift shop, playing at night when no one is around. Melinda Cheevers/Staff Photo
With more than 200 years of history, Niagara-on-the-Lake has a lot of ghost stories.
While in the past, stories about paranormal activities may have been swept under the rug and hidden from the general public, now they’re being put on display in Canada’s first Museum of the Paranormal which opened earlier this month on Queen Street.
Set just off the main street, the museum now occupies “The Smithy” building – William Gollop’s blacksmith shop that dates back as far as the 1920s. While from the outside it looks more like a barn than a museum, the building was the perfect choice says museum owners Stephanie and Daniel Cumerlato because it itself is haunted.
“There has definitely been some activity here,” said Stephanie, who noted that construction has a tendency to stir the spirits.
People have reported hearing the piano playing while no one is around and seeing faces in windows when the shop is closed. Doors have also been known to open or close on their own and then there is the curious presence of two ghosts who have reportedly been seen – or felt – on site. There’s a young girl and a large man dressed like a blacksmith who has been identified as Jonah. Stephanie said it’s reports like these that drew the couple to Niagara in the first place. The Cumerlatos got their start in the paranormal world 12 years ago with the launch of Haunted Hamilton, an online compendium of the paranormal relating to the Hamilton area. Eventually their interest in the paranormal expanded beyond the limits of the City of Hamilton and into Niagara and in particular Niagara-on-the-Lake.
“It is arguably Canada’s most haunted town,” said Daniel. “There’s so much history here and with that comes a lot of paranormal stories.”
The couple have been hosting haunted walks here for several years but decided to take the leap and open Canada’s first paranormal museum. On the main floor of the building is a gift shop and the museum occupies the entire second floor of the building.
Through the displays there are several aspects of the paranormal explored. From a collection of the most famous ghost photos in the world, to artifacts from some of North America’s most notoriously haunted sites including a Gettysburg doll, a window from the Donnelly’s house and items from Salem, Massachusetts. Each item’s story is told on placards that describe not only the significance of the item, but the area it comes from as well. Victorian mourning rituals are also explored in the museum, which includes one of the largest post-mortem photography collections.
Daniel said some of the items on display in the museum come from the couple’s personal collection and have been accented by additional artifacts found in various antique shops and auctions.
The couple said they’re looking forward to having local residents come through and hearing whatever stories they might have to tell about their very own paranormal experience.
“We’re sure everyone has at least one story,” said Stephanie. “We can’t wait to hear them.”
In addition to the museum, they also continue to offer Ghost Walks of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Now departing from the museum, all walks will be lead by Haunted Hamilton Ghost Guides who are known for dramatic flair and storytelling ability.
During the winter and the spring, the Museum of the Paranormal is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday, Saturday until 8 p.m. In the summer the hours will change and the museum will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults, $4 for kids and $6 for seniors. Fore more information visit www.museumoftheparanormal.ca or stop by the museum at 118A Queen St.