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Study of Psychic Phenomena: Mediumship, Spirit Guides, Table Levitations, Ectoplasm, and Photography: Program

Friday Evening Program

Walter Meyer zu Erpen – Are Psychic Phenomena Evidence of Life after Death?

The Study of Psychic Phenomena symposium will begin with an overview of the trance mediumship, wax fingertips, table levitations (macro-PK), and ectoplasmic manifestations studied and photographed by Dr. T. Glen and Lillian Hamilton and their associates between 1918 and 1944.  Do photographs of anomalous phenomena provide evidence of life after death?  In denying the possibility of post-mortem survival, pseudo-skeptics often claim that psychic phenomena are all fraudulent. The Hamilton photographs and other evidence worldwide suggest otherwise.

Anna Thurlow – Margery Crandon’s Canadian Connections

Boston medium Mina (Stinson) Crandon and her older brother Walter Stuart Stinson were born in Prince Edward County, Ontario. Focused on the Stinson-Crandon family’s Canadian connections and illustrated with family photos and historic documents, this presentation will discuss the Crandons’ friendship with T.G. and Lillian Hamilton and their shared interest in psychical research.

Anton Wagner – The Spiritual Journey of Prime Minister Mackenzie King

Historians debate the extent to which advice from mediums influenced the decisions of Canada’s longest serving Prime Minister. Mackenzie King’s great love for his mother caused him to establish spirit communication with her, as well as other family and political allies. His status provided quiet access to psychical researchers worldwide, including T.G. and Lillian Hamilton, with whom he discussed ectoplasmic photography. A decade of research has reconstructed the biographies of the occult practitioners that King’s executors sought to negate. With illustrations from The Spiritualist Prime Minister (anticipated early 2025), this presentation reveals King’s spiritual life and advisers.

Saturday Program

Brian Hubner – Winnipeg’s Relationship with the Paranormal

The Hamilton Family Fonds is Manitoba’s most recognized archival collection. T.G. and Lillian Hamilton’s photographs of table levitations and ectoplasmic manifestations in psychical research experiments are unparalleled worldwide. Although Arthur Conan Doyle wrote about Winnipeg’s psychic potential already in 1923, online dissemination of the Hamilton images has inspired many creative uses. This illustrated presentation will highlight some of the books, plays, films, and artwork that have helped cement the city’s identity as “Weird Winnipeg,” where possibilities of the paranormal abound.

Shannon Taggart – Photographs from The Society for Research on Rapport and Telekinesis (SORRAT)

In 1961, the American poet John G. Neihardt began directing students from the University of Missouri in paranormal experiments to increase scientific understanding of psychokinesis (PK). The Society for Research on Rapport and Telekinesis (SORRAT) evolved into a 54-year endeavour, extensively documented by founding member John Thomas Richards. This presentation will reveal, for the first time publicly, materials from the J.T. Richards archives. SORRAT images will be framed within the visual history of macro-PK research, including photographs of table levitations by T.G. Hamilton.

LUNCH – Options provided will include sandwiches, fresh fruit and vegetables.

Serena Keshavjee – Guided Tour of The Undead Archive School of Art Gallery Venue

During the lunch break, as part of The Undead Archive, Serena Keshavjee will lead a tour of the School of Art Gallery (SOAG) to view some of the many contemporary artistic responses to T.G. Hamilton’s black and white photographs of ectoplasmic manifestations.

Anton Wagner – The Influence of Spiritualism and the Occult on Mackenzie King's Appeasement of Adolf Hitler

Mackenzie King’s Bible readings, dream visions and seances convinced him that he had a God-given mission to be a peacemaker. This presentation examines how leading spiritualists and mediums in the United Kingdom and the United States helped galvanize his belief and led him to appease Adolf Hitler to the very day of the outbreak of World War II.

Anna Thurlow – Remembering the Medium

How does the perspective of the medium as a mother, sister, daughter, or wife change our understanding of her mediumship? A look at the mediumship of Mina (Stinson) Crandon, known internationally as “Margery,” through the intimate lens of her great-granddaughter, with insights from the private Crandon family archive and recent academic partnerships. A new perspective on the famous July-August 1924 séances with the magician Harry Houdini will be shared.

Heidi Rimke – Afterlife Studies at the University of Winnipeg

This Fall, “Afterlife Studies,” developed by the presenter, will examine the history, philosophy, folklore, and science that shape our understanding of psychic capacities and life after death across diverse social contexts. Designed for senior-level students, the course focuses on multi- and interdisciplinary scholarship and clinical research relating to the study of the survival of consciousness. It challenges conventional intellectual approaches that stigmatize exceptional human experiences and perpetuate significant knowledge gaps within Western knowledge production.