Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Psychic Experiments: Hamilton House at 185 Henderson Highway (Part 1 of 2)

Guest Post Written by Linda Horodecki, member of the North East Winnipeg Historical Society Inc.
Edited by Laura McKay, on behalf of Heritage Winnipeg Corp.
To follow up on this or any other articles on the blog, contact Heritage Winnipeg's Executive Director. 

A recent photo of Hamilton House. Image courtesy of Linda Horodecki.
Hamilton House at 185 Henderson Highway was the site of many remarkable psychic experiments during the first part of the 20th century. The experiments were conducted by Dr. Glen Hamilton, Mrs. Lillian Hamilton and their three offspring - daughter Margaret and sons Glen and James. 

James Hamilton, August 1932, possibly at the rear of 185 Henderson Highway. Image courtesy of the photo album of James D. Hamilton, Janice Hamilton collection, Archives & Special Collections, University of Manitoba.
The Hamilton Family papers have been deposited at the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections and I have derived almost all of this paper from that collection, particularly from the writings of Mrs. Lillian Hamilton and Margaret Hamilton. Several photographs are also from the Janice Hamilton collection, which are also housed at the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections. There are many photographs associated with these collection at the University of Manitoba and all images that are in this blog, along with some descriptive material, are from the University, except where otherwise stated. All photo captions that I quote were added by the Hamiltons.

Recent photo of the back of 185 Henderson Highway. Image courtesy of Linda Horodecki.
The most active psychic research was from about 1920 to 1935 and this document will show examples of table tipping, teleplasmic masses often depicting people no longer living, and automatic writing. During these years there were hundreds of séances that were held and a great number of photographs recording the events.

An image of the entire Hamilton family can be found here, on the Manitoba Historical Society website in the article entitled "Psychic Research in a Winnipeg Family: Reminiscences of Dr. Glen F. Hamilton" By James B. Nickels.
 
This is a historical photo of Hamilton House. During the time that the photograph was taken, Henderson Highway was called Kelvin Street.

Historical photo of Hamilton House. Image courtesy of Hamilton Family collection, Archives & Special Collections, University of Manitoba.
Dr. Hamilton was a respected physician and, in addition to his other community work, he served as an MLA for the riding of Elmwood from 1915 to 1920. Mrs. Hamilton had worked as a nurse until her marriage and thereafter as a wife and mother as well as caregiver to Dr. Hamilton's mother. 

Why did the Hamiltons begin experimenting in psychic phenomena? According to Margaret Hamilton, "In 1918, dad became interested in mental telepathy; he and our minister, Rev. D.N. McLachlan of King Memorial Church tried some experiments in mental telepathy where they proved, to their own satisfaction, that thought transference between two living minds exists."

Arthur & James Hamilton (twins in the wagon) with older brother Glen Forrester. Handwritten notation on back of photo: "Glen with us. Summer 1917." Image courtesy of the photo album of James D. Hamilton. Janice Hamilton collection, Archives & Special Collections, University of Manitoba.
The death of their little son may have been the impetus for Dr. and Mrs. Hamilton to engage in psychic work. Arthur Lamont, one of the Hamilton children and twin brother of James, died from influenza at the age of three in 1919. He is buried in the Elmwood Cemetery, as are all members of the Hamilton family. According to Margaret Hamilton, "When little Arthur died from influenza at the age of three years and three months, Dad's grief was profound. I think at this time he asked the question, 'Does my child survive?' He wasn't sure and he wasn't sure for a long time."

Photo of Arthur Hamilton's grave, image courtesy of Linda Horodecki.
In January 1919, the same year that Arthur died of the flu, the McLachlan children were also very ill and Dr. McLachlan was staying up with them to give his wife a rest. He entered his study at midnight and saw, seated at his desk, the living figure of his dead sister Margaret, about which he told Dr. Hamilton. Dr. Hamilton was also interested in phenomena investigated by  Prof. Allison, teaching at United College, who believed in the communication of a woman from St. Louis who claimed to be a living woman who had passed through death. Dr. Hamilton's first formal psychic study was in 1921 when a medium described people that Dr. Hamilton recognized as his parents and his dead sister. 

Handwritten notation on the back of photo: "June 1918. 185 Kelvin St. Wpg. ALH [Arthur Lamont Hamilton], JDH [James Drummond Hamilton], Miller & Neil Brown." Image courtesy of the photo album of James D. Hamilton, Janice Hamilton collection, Archives & Special Collections, University of Manitoba.
Historically, this was a time of worldwide grieving of enormous loss of life, after the great influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 and devastating casualties from the First World War. It is perhaps not surprising to wish to recall back to life those loved and cherished individuals who died.

There were nine mediums who worked with the Hamiltons and the two most active were Elizabeth Poole and Mary Marshall. In July 1921, Mrs. Hamilton discovered that a nurse of their acquaintance, Mrs. Elizabeth Poole, had very strong telekinetic powers. Regular experiments began with Mrs. Poole where table tippings and table rappings communicated messages from the dead. 

Dr. and Mrs. Hamilton on the front steps of 185 Henderson Highway. Date unknown. Image courtesy of the photo album of James D. Hamilton, Janice Hamilton collection, Archives & Special Collections, University of Manitoba.
During séances, Mrs. Poole suddenly took on the mediumistic trance condition. Shortly, in this state, she became the open transmission channel for numerous communicators who used her trance state in two ways - one when she was deeply asleep like a person in deep anesthesia, her hand would become activated by some external energy and would make writing motions. 

Margaret Hamilton: "We kept a supply of papers and pencils ready and her hand would write in large scrawls across the paper. Then her head would fall forward and she would go into a profound sleep during which she was having a vision. After she awoke, she would relate the events that she saw in her vision."

This photo from April 1925 shows the séance room as the medium Mrs. Poole charges the table with psychic energy to prepare for telekinesis, that is, levitation by psychic force. Along with her are Dr. Glen Hamilton (holding her hand), Dr. J. A. Hamilton, Lillian Hamilton, and H. A. V. Green.


Mrs. Poole charging the table with psychic force. Image courtesy of Hamilton Family collection, Archives & Special Collections, University of Manitoba.
The  séance room was situated on the second floor of the house. Margaret Hamilton: "Dr. Hamilton took over a bedroom at the back of our home for his research. Illumination was provided by a ruby red ceiling light controlled by a dimmer switch. Sittings took place either in dim red light or more frequently, in total darkness." The following is the séance room layout.

Layout of seance room. Image courtesy of the Hamilton Family collection, Archives & Special Collections, University of Manitoba.
Dr. and Mrs. Hamilton were meticulous in recording every aspect of the psychic events. All phenomena were recorded by a battery of cameras mounted on stands at the back of the room. According to Margaret Hamilton, Dr. Hamilton was an excellent amateur photographer, using the best quality of flash powder, bulbs, and paper. He did his own developing, enlarging, and printing. Another individual would accompany Dr. Hamilton into the darkroom as a measure against tampering with the results. No doubt this reflected their scientific training for impartial proof of events and also, more importantly, it would help to deflect any accusations of fraud.

Bank of cameras. Image courtesy of the Hamilton Family collection, Archives & Special Collections, University of Manitoba.
The next photograph is important because it shows the partial materialization of an individual named Walter. Walter was no longer living at this time, which was true of all the people visualized during the psychic experiments, as far as I can determine. He was active during many séances, speaking via the medium and relating what he observed in the "spirit world," directing séance participants' actions and telling Dr. Hamilton when he should take a photograph.

This photograph of March 6, 1932 depicts a teleplasmic mass attached to the mouth of the medium, Mary Marshall, that contained the partial materialization of Walter's eyes during a séance, and a photograph of a drawing done in complete darkness by Mrs. Marshall, while in a trance state, that depicts the train crash in 1911 that took Walter's life. A portrait of Walter is included for comparison.

Walter is materialized. Image courtesy of the Hamilton Family collection, Archives & Special Collections, University of Manitoba.
According to Margaret Hamilton, procedures for séances were carefully spelled out and rigidly followed: "In an adjacent bedroom, Mrs. Marshall removed her outer garments, under the watchful eye of Miss. Turner, who at Walter's request, bathed the face, neck, breast, and upper arms, leaving the flesh damp, then dressed the medium in a robe and slippers provided by Mrs. Hamilton. She at once escorted Mrs. Marshall to the séance room, the sitters quietly entered and took their places.

Mrs. Marshall, seated in the cabinet, had her hands continuously held and controlled by Dr. J. A. Hamilton on her left, and W. B. Cooper on her right. All sitters joined hands. The door was locked. The battery of cameras was kept in readiness for flashing a picture. Only Walter knew when a plasmic form was ready, and he always indicated either by speaking through his medium, or by writing, what we could expect to find on the plates (still in the cameras if an exposure had been made) after the sitting." Prior to the photo, Walter had indicated that a bell would ring to give the signal for the image to be taken.

Mrs. Marshall seated in cabinet, in a trance. Image courtesy of Hamilton Family collection, Archives & Special Collections, University of Manitoba.
Image from May 16, 1926. Photo caption: "True levitation, non-contact. Elizabeth Poole trained by TGH (Dr. Hamilton) to tell him when pain was strong, to withdraw her hand. This was his signal to ignite flash by push-button device."


Mrs. Poole, true levitation. Image courtesy of the Hamilton Family collection, Archives & Special Collections, University of Manitoba.
The following photograph is interesting for the remarkable phenomenon described in its caption and, since it takes place in the living room, we get a glimpse of that part of the house. Photo caption: "Here the experimenters are endeavouring to prevent movement in both the table and the chair. For a moment or two they are successful but presently, in spite of their greatest efforts to the contrary, the whole mass - medium, experimenters, table and chairs - is lurched and rotated about the floor - a truly astonishing manifestation when one considers the weight of the mass. Following the experiment, the medium showed signs of great exhaustion - perspiration, pallor, dazed mental condition. Dr. T.G.H. (Dr. Hamilton), Dr. D.B. Macdonald, Mrs. Poole. March 1923. Living room, 185 Kelvin St., Wpg."

Levitation in the living room. Image courtesy of the Hamilton Family collection, Archives & Special Collections, University of Manitoba.


Participation by Other Medical Doctors

After much experimentation and when he was confident that the psychic occurrences were genuine, Dr. Hamilton addressed the Winnipeg Medical Society and other organizations beginning in 1926. Beginning at that time, there was an enormous interest in his work among the local medical community and around the world. Two notable Winnipeg physicians who participated in the Hamilton psychic experiments were Dr. Gordon Chown and Dr. Bruce Chown

Here Dr. Gordon Chown observes a table levitating. Photo caption: "Observer: Dr. Gordon Chown, In the preliminary hand-table contact, he had placed his hand over Mrs. Poole's right hand as it rested on the table 'charging it'. Dr. T.G.H. held her left hand. She had been taught to removed her hands and withdraw from the table as quickly as possible, when she felt the strong abdominal pain that signalled a levitation was imminent. Here she had turned away a split second before the table bounded upward and inverted itself."

Dr. Gordon Chown participating. Image courtesy of the Hamilton Family collection, Archives & Special Collections, University of Manitoba.

Amorphous teleplasm. The medium, Mary Marshall, is seen with a large teleplasmic mass originating from her face and extending down her neck to her chest during a séance on March 24, 1929. The teleplasm has substance as can be seen by the shadows cast onto the medium's face from the camera's flash. 

Mrs. Marshall with amorphous teleplasm. Image courtesy of the Hamilton Family collection, Archives & Special Collections, University of Manitoba.
There were many teleplasmic masses containing images of people who were no longer living. The people were sometimes public figures and sometimes those with a personal relationship to the people experiencing the séance. Here the medium Mary Marshall is shown with a mass attached to her nose containing the face of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, writer of the Sherlock Holmes stories, with a photo of Doyle included for comparison. This took place during a séance on June 27, 1932. Doyle had died on July 7, 1930.

Medium with image of Arthur Conan Doyle. Image courtesy of Hamilton Family collection, Archives & Special Collections, University of Manitoba.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his wife had visited the Hamiltons in Winnipeg on July 1, 1923. The Doyles participated in a séance and their visit is reported in the Manitoba Historical Society journal Manitoba History, Number 25, Spring 1993. The article, entitled "Arthur Conan Doyle's Adventures in Winnipeg," is authored by Michael W. Horner.



Photographs of C.H. Spurgeon and of the medium, Mary Marshall. A teleplasmic mass is attached to Mrs. Marshall's face in which the face of C.H. Spurgeon appeared for the first time during a séance on November 4, 1928. Charles H. Spurgeon was an enormously popular British preacher who died in 1892. 

According to Wikipedia, Spurgeon was a British Particular Baptist preacher who even today remains highly influential among Christians of various denominations, among whom he is known as the "Prince of Preachers". In the very recent past, a member of a television "reality show" family had a child whom she named "Spurgeon". It is estimated that during his lifetime C.H. Spurgeon preached to about 10 million people. A portrait of Spurgeon is also included in this collage.

First emergence of Spurgeon. Image courtesy of Hamilton Family collection, Archives & Special Collections, University of Manitoba


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Wednesday, 17 February 2016

The 2016 Annual Preservation Awards & Launch of the First World War Digital Memorial

Article by Laura McKay, on behalf of Heritage Winnipeg Corp.     
To follow up on this or any other articles on the blog, contact Heritage Winnipeg's Executive Director.



On Monday, February 15, 2016, Heritage Winnipeg presented the 31st Annual Preservation Awards ceremony as well as the launch of the First World War Digital Memorial Project. The event was held in the Rotunda of the historic Union Station, VIA Rail Canada's Winnipeg Station, to celebrate National Heritage Day and Louis Riel Day.

The First World War Digital Memorial, as displayed on the east wall of the rotunda.

Since 1985, Heritage Winnipeg has sponsored an annual awards program that seeks to recognize those people dedicated to the protection, restoration, and conservation of Winnipeg's built heritage. Awards are also given to owners of heritage structures who seek to sensitively restore their buildings so that they become a productive element of the economical, cultural, and social fabric of the community. 

Cindy Tugwell, Heritage Winnipeg's Executive Director, speaks at the beginning of the ceremony.
Awards are given in three categories: Heritage Conservation, Distinguished Service, and Youth. For more information about the criteria for each of these awards, visit the Heritage Winnipeg website here.

Members of the Living History Society were also in attendance for the event.
The winners of this year's awards program are as follows: 

Heritage Conservation Awards

The Province of Manitoba 

&

Ager Little Architects

Heritage Winnipeg Board Member, Lawrence Prout, presents the award to Ryan Derksen, accepting on behalf of the Province of Manitoba.

Heritage Winnipeg Board Member, Lawrence Prout, presents the award to Marnie Gartrell, accepting on behalf of Ager Little Architects.

for the Institutional Conservation of the Old Law Courts at 391 Broadway. For their commitment to upgrade the plumbing system and provide barrier-free washrooms at the Old Law Courts located at 391 Broadway while ensuring the preservation of the character-defining elements, such as the marble floor tiles, marble panels, doors and frames, and the original washroom fixtures. Built from 1912-1916, this is one of the most important Law Courts buildings in the Province, and one of the best examples of the Neo-Classical style designed by Provincial Architect, Samuel Hooper.



The City of Winnipeg

Heritage Winnipeg President, Jordan van Sewell, presents the award to Councillor Shawn Dobson, accepting on behalf of the City of Winnipeg.

Councillor Shawn Dobson accepts the award with special thanks to the Planning, Property, and Development Department and Project Officer, Evan Wiebe.

for the Institutional Conservation of the City Council Building at 510 Main Street. For the sensitive replacement of the roof and re-pointing of the exterior of the City Council building located at 510 Main Street. Built in 1964 and recognized as a modernist heritage building, this work affirms the City's long-term commitment to maintaining heritage buildings in Winnipeg.




Roslyn Properties/Globe General Agencies


Heritage Winnipeg President, Jordan van Sewell, presents the award to Diane Glover, Senior Property Manager, accepting on behalf of Globe General Agencies.

Diane Glover, Senior Property Manager for Globe General Agencies, accepts the award.


for the Residential Conservation of Roslyn Court at 40 Osborne Street. For their commitment to maintain Roslyn Court located at 40 Osborne Street. Recent rehabilitation work included the roof, copper panels, exterior masonry, and painting. This Queen Anne Revival style building, constructed in 1908, is recognized as a National Historic Site and it continues to be a viable and integral part of Osborne Village.





The Yoon Family

Heritage Winnipeg President, Jordan van Sewell, presents the award to Harry Yoon, accepting on behalf of the Yoon Family.

Heritage Winnipeg President, Jordan van Sewell, presents the award to Harry Yoon, accepting on behalf of the Yoon Family.

for the Commercial Conservation of the Lauzon Block at 339 William Avenue. For the main floor restoration work completed in the Lauzon Block located at 339 William Avenue. This 3-storey historic building was built in 1905 and recently featured in a Heritage Winnipeg blog article. The restoration work focused on the pressed-tin walls and ceiling coverings.



Special President's Award

 Longboat Development Corporation

&

Stantec Architecture Limited

Jeff Chipman accepts the award on behalf of Longboat Development Corporation. Michael Banman accepted the award on behalf of Stantec Architecture.

for the Commercial Conservation of the Mitchell-Copp facade at 315 Portage Avenue. For the sympathetic protection, stabilization, and preservation of the 1919 historic Mitchell-Copp facade located at 315 Portage Avenue and thereby significantly enhancing the streetscape of Portage Avenue.


Distinguished Service Awards

The Friends of Dalnavert Museum

Heritage Winnipeg Past President, David McDowell, presents the award to Adele Hempel, Chair, accepting on behalf of the Friends of Dalnavert Museum.

Adele Hempel, Chair, accepts the award on behalf of the Friends of Dalnavert Museum.
The Friends of Dalnavert Museum. L-R: Cindy Tugwell, Heather Laser, Brock Capell, Susan Moffatt, Ines Bonacossa, and Adele Hempel.
for their dedication and commitment to the protection and re-opening of Dalnavert Museum at 61 Carlton. For their dedication and commitment to the protection and re-opening of the restored Museum and Visitor's Centre located at 61 Carlton Street for future generations. The museum, built in 1895, was the home of former Manitoba Premier, Hugh John Macdonald, the only son of our first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. 

First World War Digital Memorial Project

Thank you to the City of Winnipeg and the Thomas Sill Foundation for their generous support of this project.

Councillor Brian Mayes from the City of Winnipeg speaks to the inspiration and groundwork for the First World War Digital Memorial Project.
Bruce Tascona, Chair of the Military History Society of Manitoba, speaks to the importance of remembering the sacrifices of the First World War.
Jeremy Choy of Pattern Interactive explains the technology behind the installation.
Actor and playwright, Tim Higgins, reads from his piece "Winnipeg's Great War Legacy --- A Reflection".

Actor and playwright, Tim Higgins, speaks to the legacy of the Great War in Winnipeg.
Brendan McKenn from the Manitoba Underground Opera introduces the organization's performers.
Lynlee Wolstencroft, Soprano & Megan Dufrat, Pianist, perform "Au pays où se fait la guerre" by composer Henri Duparc.
The First World War Digital Memorial is now on display at Union Station.
Members of the Living History Society in period costume.
Volunteers in First World War uniform.



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