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- Bessie Poole
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Elizabeth Shand (née Poole) is the daughter of Elizabeth Poole who worked as nurse and medium with the Hamilton family. Elizabeth (commonly known as Bessie) was born October 3, 1895 in Rankinston, Scotland. She emigrated to Canada with her family in 1904. By February 1906, the family was settled in the Winnipeg neighbourhood of Elmwood. In 1910, the Hamilton’s moved to their Elmwood house at 185 Kelvin Street (now 185 Henderson Highway), a 10-minute walk from where the Poole family was living at 270 Johnson Avenue West.
Bessie married Harold Shand on October 3, 1917 at the King Memorial Presbyterian Church on 127 Cobourg Avenue in Winnipeg. Shand was an engineer with the Greater Winnipeg Water District. Bessie and Harold had three children: Ian (1919-1978), Elizabeth Jean (Betty) (1922-2011), and Neil (1931-2004). For many years, the family lived at 7 Neil Place in East Kildonan, a Colonial-style house designed by Harold Shand.
Bessie Shand volunteered for the St. John’s College Guild (which later became the St. John’s Ravenscourt School Guild) during the 1930s and 1940s. She also was the secretary of the women’s auxiliary and the war work committee of the Red Cross in the late 1930s. Shand was a member of the Crafts Guild of Manitoba and a prize-winning weaver. In 1958, Shand was elected president of the Guild of Canadian Weavers, Manitoba Branch. Bessie Shand was frequently featured in the society pages of the Winnipeg Tribune and the Free Press.
In the 1920s, Bessie Shand attended séances at the Hamilton home. After T.G. Hamilton’s death in 1935, both Bessie and Harold Shand participated in the séances organized by Lillian Hamilton in 1935 and 1936. Bessie even substituted as a medium in experiments conducted by Lillian Hamilton and Dr. Bruce Chown. It is possible that Bessie Shand could be the medium referred to as “Hope” in the 1938 letter from Reverend W.R. Wood contained in this collection. According to archivist Walter Meyer zu Erpen, Bessie Shand’s daughter Betty Jean confirmed that Bessie practiced automatic writing and occasionally acted as a medium. Betty Jean also said that the Shand family had a few sittings in their own home.
In 1921, Harold Shand was a witness to one of Elizabeth Poole’s (Bessie’s mother) table-tilting sessions at the Hamilton home. Betty Jean also said that her father sometimes attended the Hamilton séances to assist with loading the cameras. In the 1930s and 1940s, also helped Lillian Hamilton when she needed photographic prints from the séances for lending. Harold was one of the honourary pallbearers at Lillian Hamilton’s funeral in 1956.
Harold Shand died in Winnipeg in 1960. Bessie Shand died in 1963 in Vancouver.
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