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Springdale Park Spiritual Association: Home

Springdale Park Spiritual Association:

An Inventory of its historical and corporate records at the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections

Inventory prepared by Walter Meyer zu Erpen and Samantha Booth
University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections
330 Elizabeth Dafoe Library
(July 2015)

Finding aid encoded by Samantha Booth (10 July 2015)
Finding aid written in English.

Collection Summary

University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections
330 Elizabeth Dafoe Library
Springdale Park Spiritual Association
Survival Research Institute of Canada
Springdale Park Spiritual Association fonds
0.39m of textual records ; 14 photographs
MSS 452 (A15-70)

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Administrative History of Springdale Park Spiritual Association

The Springdale Park Spiritual Association of Ontario (SPSA) in Bracebridge, Ontario, was founded in 1938 by William Charles (Bill) Partridge (1893-1984) and incorporated by letters patent in the Province of Ontario dated 21 July 1938. W.C. Partridge had located and purchased property (160 acres) on the banks of the Muskoka River near Bracebridge to establish a Canadian Spiritualist Camp with a church and accommodation similar to the one in Lily Dale, New York, which he had visited prior to purchase of the property. The members of the SPSA cleared land, built a road, cottages, auditoriums, and a church (est. 1940), and sold and leased lots to members and others who wished to attend the camp in the summer, which offered courses in the history and science of Spiritualism. There was also a medium's cottage which was available free to mediums who worked in the park for a full week during the July to September summer period. In 1939, Bill Partridge also founded the Springdale Church in Toronto, as an operating base from which to sell the lots as well as offering Spiritualist church services. In 1942 W.C. Partridge was ordained as pastor of the SPSA in a ceremony conducted by the SPSA lawyer. Springdale Church acquired its own charter in 1946, but maintained close ties with “the Park” and promoted it among its members. Throughout this time, the SPSA lots continued to be surveyed and sold to Spiritualists.

In the 1970s, new laws allowed non-Spiritualists to purchase lots, diminishing the camp aspect of the SPSA; attendance at the park church was also very low. Rev. W.C. Partridge and his wife moved to British Columbia in 1976, and ultimately care of the SPSA and the park church passed to Reverends Joseph C. Bain (1916-2009) and Lillian C. Bain (1916-2003) (as the medium) in 1978. The Bains were friends of the Partridges. Services at the park church stopped in the mid- to late-1980s due to the condition of the church building and the health of Reverend Lillian Bain. About 1988, the SPSA sold land holdings to fund the renovation of the Springdale Park church which was undertaken during 1988-1990. The SPSA board of directors held its last meeting on 16 September 2000. The remaining SPSA funds were donated to the Survival Research Institute of Canada (SRIC) to support its work in protecting the archives and history of Spiritualism, including online publication of the Directory of Spiritualist Organizations in Canada. In 2001, the SPSA’s status as a registered charity was revoked.

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The Survival Research Institute of Canada was founded in 1991. The institute aimed to pursue and promote studies in the field of survival research, which is investigation into whether some part of the human consciousness or personality, commonly referred to as spirit, survives physical death and whether that spirit is able to communicate with the living. Based in Victoria, BC, its representatives carry out the following activities: undertaking research into the history of Spiritualism and psychical research in Canada (including study of the work of Canadian psychical researcher, Dr. Thomas Glendenning Hamilton, and the relationship of Spiritualist table-tilting phenomena documented by Hamilton and others to theories about psychokinesis); taking part in experiments connected to evidence of spirit survival brought through mediumship; sponsoring public education on subjects relevant to survival research through workshops, lectures, and demonstrations of mediumship; participating in media interviews; presenting academic lectures in Canada, the United States and Europe; and directing relevant records of Canadian organizations and individuals to appropriate archival repositories. On May 24, 2000, the institute was federally incorporated and became a registered charity. The founding members were: Walter Meyer zu Erpen and Debra Barr, two noted Canadian archivists, Walter Keoki Quan, Claus Michael Thomsen, Janice Irene Stromgren, Paul Dennis Biscop, and Lolita Nevon Wilson.

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Scope and Contents of the Records

This fonds consists of the surviving known corporate records of the only Spiritualist camp in Ontario, including six ledgers, financial, legal, and property documents, minutes, correspondence, historical documentation, as well as photographs. The fonds is divided into six series: administrative records; financial records; legal records; property records; history; and miscellaneous, containing a notebook and an undated, anonymous paper.

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Arrangement of the Papers

This collection is arranged in part with the transferring agent in accordance with specifications he provided. The original order established by the donor was maintained where possible.

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Related Materials

This fonds is one of a series of fonds and collections transferred to the Archives by Walter Meyer zu Erpen, President of the Survival Research Institute of Canada. It is related to the various other Psychical Research and Spiritualist Collections that the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections has attracted since it acquired the Hamilton Family fonds. It is closely related to the Joe and Lillian Bain fonds, as the Bains were integral members of the SPSA; the Noreen Hodgson fonds, which also contains some of the corporate records of the SPSA as well as some records of W.C. Partridge (founder) and Ruth Ann Dyke (pastor); the various Survival Research Institute of Canada fonds; and the Winnipeg Spiritualist Church fonds, as a similar institution.

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Custodial History

This fonds was donated by the Board of the Springdale Park Spiritual Association, Bracebridge, Ontario, to the Survival Research Institute of Canada (SRIC) in October, 1999. These records were combined with the records produced by SRIC related to the SPSA, and deposited with the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections in 2015 by Walter Meyer zu Erpen (President, SRIC).

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Detailed Description of the Collection

1. Administrative Records [1938-2005]

This series contains bylaws, correspondence, and minutes of the board meetings of the SPSA and associations of which it was a member of (Spiritualists’ National Union of Canada (SNUC), which became the Spiritualist Church of Canada (SCC)); it also includes correspondence between the Survival Research Institute of Canada (SRIC) and members of the SPSA in the lead-up to the SPSA’s dissolution and transfer of assets to SRIC.

By-laws 1938, 1980-1997

Box Folder  
1 1 SPSA bylaws (missing amendment from 1943) 1938
Notes and bylaws 1980-1997

Affiliations 1940

Box Folder  
1 3 Lists of ordinations and accredited workers [mediums] 1940 
  4 Affiliated churches 1940

Correspondence 1969-2005

Box Folder  
1 5 Correspondence between W.C. Partridge & W.O. Perry 1969-1978 
  6 Correspondence between W.C. Partridge & W.O. Perry 1970-1975 
  7 Correspondence re: snow ploughing 1973-1987 
  8 SRIC correspondence with John L. Baron re: SPSA 1997-1998 
  9 SRIC correspondence with Joseph C. Bain and James R. Partridge re: dissolution of the SPSA 1998-2001
  10 10 SRIC correspondence with Joseph C. Bain and James R. Partridge re: dissolution of the SPSA 1998-2001
Minutes 1938-1998
Box Folder  
1 11 SPSA Roll book 1938-1942
  12 SPSA minutes, notices, correspondence 1938-1980
  13 SPSA minutes 1980-1990
  14 SPSA minutes 1980-1998
  15 SNUC AGM minutes and notices of semi-yearly meetings 1972-1977 (incomplete)
  16 SCC semi-annual meeting minutes; notice of Board of Governors’ meeting 1979-1980, incomplete

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2. Financial Records 1937-1990
Box Folder  
1 17 Financial ledger 1937-1970                                                                                                              
Box Folder  
2 1 Financial journal 1939-1943, [1954], 1974-1975
  2 Treasurer's book 1950-1966
  3 Financial ledger 1968-1988
  4 Financial records 1969-1977
  5 Ontario Consumer & Commercial Relations 1966-1986
  6 Church renovation costs 1990

3. Property Records 1938-1996
Box Folder  
2 7 Property sale ledger 1938-[ca. 1968]
  8 List of lots sold 1938-1940
  9 Miscellaneous purchase of lots 1939-1973
  10 Lease to James Oates 1943
  11 Ledger of sale of lots 1969-1976
  12 Development plans relevant to SPSA (Bracebridge, Ontario) 1943-1978
  13 Correspondence, mortgages, wills re: land [ca.1970]-1980
  14 SPSA land title issues 1973-1988
  15 Church renovation from land sales 1988-1990
  16 Sale of church & property 1995-1996

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4. Legal Records 1967-1990
Box Folder  
3 1 MacNaughton & MacNaughton 1967-1981
  2 Sugg & Reid; Sugg, Reid & FittonSugg & Fitton 1970-1979
  3 Sugg & Fitton 1980-1990

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5. History 1938-1999

This series contains historical documents of the SPSA, including research materials for the Story of Springdale Park. It also contains other documents and artifacts pertaining to the SPSA throughout its history, like stationary, hymnals, and photographs.

Box Folder  
3 4 SPSA historical documents [photocopies], including one photograph (Doreen Bauld to Gary Denniss1998
  5 Denniss, Gary. "Story of Springdale Park" 1998
  6 Stationary samples 1938-[198?]
  7 Church Bible inscription [photocopied 1999] 1940
  8 W.C. Partridge research notes (n.d.)
  9 W.C. Partridge 25th anniversary notes 1964
  10 Hymnals, including newspaper advertisement for church services 1937, 1978
  11 Photographs [taken by Walter Meyer zu Erpen & Joe Bain] 1998-2006

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