Aug 132017
 

Philips' Magical Paradise is a museum of magic and illusion off the beaten track in Manitoba

Philips’s Magical Paradise in Giroux, Manitoba

Off the beaten track in the southern Manitoba hamlet of Giroux, you’ll find an off-beat, quirky museum dedicated to preserving Canada’s magical heritage. Philip’s Magical Paradise was created by Gordon and Marilyn  Hornan in memory of their youngest son Philip.

Philips' Magical Paradise is a museum of magic and illusion off the beaten track in Manitoba

Philip Hornan was a boy who loved magic and performed magic tricks himself. He was diagnosed with cancer when he was 10 years old and died five years later in 1986. A dying wish was that his parents make a special room for all to see and enjoy what he enjoyed doing most. They turned the Giroux United Church, built in 1904, into a museum and called it Philip’s Magical Paradise. It contains Philip’s magic and other tricks and illusions, as well as artifacts donated by magicians across North America.

Philips' Magical Paradise is a museum of magic and illusion off the beaten track in Manitoba

Cell from the old Steinbach jail

Philip was mentored by escape artist Dean Gunnarson. They practiced their escape skills at police detachment jails in nearby towns. Philip would ask to be handcuffed and placed into a cell from which he would escape, usually in a matter of minutes. There are several letters in the museum from police detachments acknowledging his escape feats.

Photo of Dean Gunnarson and Philip Harnon in Philip's Magical Paradise museum

Photo of Dean Gunnarson and Philip Hornan

Philips' Magical Paradise is a museum of magic and illusion off the beaten track in Manitoba

I recently visited the RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina. I think there are more handcuffs on display in Philip’s Magical Paradise than at the RCMP museum.

The museum is unusual, funny, and somewhat creepy. I jumped when a piano started playing on its own. I stared at an optical illusion picture until I saw a unicorn. The eyes of a man in a picture followed me as I walked past. The trick mirrors were less than flattering.

Philips' Magical Paradise is a museum of magic and illusion off the beaten track in Manitoba

These eyes follow you!

The small museum is so crammed with memorabilia it is difficult to take it all in. Marilyn Hornan walked through the museum with me. She made my visit more interesting than it would have been on my own by pointing out things I might have missed and providing background stories.

Philips' Magical Paradise is a museum of magic and illusion off the beaten track in Manitoba

A rabbit pulling a man out of a hat

Philips' Magical Paradise is a museum of magic and illusion off the beaten track in Manitoba

Some of the displays are just silly bits of fun. Marilyn Hornan played up the warnings before I opened this basket.

Philips' Magical Paradise is a museum of magic and illusion off the beaten track in Manitoba

Philip’s Magical Paradise is open June 1 to the end of September on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 6 pm. It is open Monday to Friday by appointment or by chance. If you visit during regular Saturday or Sunday hours there is a chance you’ll find the door locked and a sign directing you to go two driveways down to the Hornan house. This happened to me. Marilyn then came and opened the museum.

The museum has been around for twenty-six years, but it is unclear how many more years it will be open. Gordon Hornan is no longer alive and Marilyn keeps the museum going on her own. She told me she plans to do that as long as she is able. When she can no longer manage, she will likely close the museum and return donated items.

In the meantime, the museum remains a tribute to her son and the magic he loved. In the words of the Hornan family in the museum brochure, “Always believe in the magic of your dreams.”

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  14 Responses to “Museum of Magic and Illusion Off the Beaten Track in Manitoba”

  1. Such an amazing way to keep the memory of their son alive. It is most literally a mom and pop museum.

  2. You can’t help but be moved by the Hornan’s tribute to their son and their work in sharing his hobby with others. The portrait of the man with the eyes that follow you is creepy but I especially liked the rabbit pulling a man out of a hat!

    • Anita, it was a creepy feeling to have the eyes follow me, but other things in the museum were amusing (like the rabbit pulling the man out of a hat).

  3. Philip’s Magical Paradise sounds quite magical. Off-the-beaten path museums can quite often be great. What a wonderful tribute to a young son who fought cancer.

    • Jeri, the museum is a wonderful tribute. Off-the-beaten track museums can be great because they are often works of love and passion.

  4. Thx for alerting me to this museum, Donna! I’d not previously heard of it before. These quirky little museums can definitely touch a nerve!

  5. Utter sweetness, Donna. I admire them for taking a tragic circumstance and making something fun for people to enjoy.

  6. A lot of emotions captured in this wonderful tribute to Philip Hornan. Thank you for sharing, Donna.

    • Linda, I hadn’t thought of the museum specifically in those terms, but you’re right – there are a lot of emotions in the museum and the story behind it.

  7. Wow! This seems like an outstanding place, Donna! Is there an entrance fee?

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