Niagara Falls is a unique place in Canada and the world, and within it there are plenty of fascinating places to explore.
Not only does the city have, well, the Niagara Falls, but it is full of wacky museums, little houses of horror, arcades, top-notch restaurants, casinos, magic, theatre, music and more.
Known as little Canadian Vegas, the city relies heavily on its tourism revenue, and is bustling with entertainment and opportunity.
So what is one to do with all this opportunity right in their own back yard? Go explore, of course.
To properly document the uniqueness of the city, and Niagara in general, Niagara Now will be producing a show called PLACES.
Here’s the first episode. Each will be accompanied by a written story.
PLACES: Episode 1: Evel Knievel Museum and Pawn Shop
If you’re like me and have a bit of treasure-hunting marrow in your bones, there are some places like flea markets and thrift stores in which you could easily spend days rummaging around in.
The Evel Knievel Daredevil Museum in Niagara Falls, Canada, is one of those places.
While it’s technically called a museum, the front doubles as a thrift, pawn shop — a massive one, with a variety of things that is sure to peek the interest of antique hunters and insane pirate people like me who love droves of small trinkets.
On Friday (Jan. 26), I had the opportunity to have a personal tour of the museum and shop given to me by owner Mark DeMarco.
He’s been in business since 1973 and the shop is the second-oldest pawn shop in southern Ontario licensed by the Board of Police Commissioners.
When you first walk in, you’re reminded of an episode of Hoarders, though you quickly notice this isn’t just any pile of junk — it’s all carefully selected by DeMarco himself, with 40-years of experience in knowing what is and isn’t junk. If you have the time to look, you’ll find just about anything you’re looking for.
There’s a plethora of musical instruments, vintage clothing, artwork, jewelry, cameras, vintage phones and clocks, military pieces, coins, collectible toys and an abundance of oddities. While I was there, a man came asking for an obscure watch battery, and of course, DeMarco had it.
And of course, as the name of the business says, there is a museum in the back, open to the public only on weekends.
The museum houses many items from the old That’s Incredible museum, such as the famous Crystal Skull seen by hundred of thousands, as well as and other rarities like shrunken heads, Indigenous Canadian artifacts, an Elvis Presley guitar and pre-historic Megalodon teeth — and of course a variety of authentic Evel Knievel exhibits.
DeMarco said he’s acquired everything through more than 40 years of purchasing and trading.
“It’s a rather interesting, rewarding business if you like things that are different and historical. And we’ve liked both interesting things and historical things for the last 40-some-odd-years … and just when you think you’ve seen everything. You see something you’ve never seen.”
He said he has three inheritances wrapped up in the building.
I suppose hearing that gave me an appreciation for these places in a new way — I realized these houses of old relics always come with an air of tragedy to them; seeing all the things that were once cherished but somebody lost interest in, forgot, gave away, lost or had stolen.
Of course, is part of the intrigue.
While a lot of things in the shop seem likely to never likely to leave the shelves, for DeMarco it’s a life of adventure.
“(It’s) the most interesting store in the Niagara Peninsula. At least we’ve been told. I don’t know if it’s true,” he said.
The place is located at 4602 Victoria Ave. in Niagara Falls.
If you’ve got an open schedule to spent a bit of time, make a stop inside. You’ll find something interesting if you look for it.