Fonds - Springdale Park Spiritual Association fonds

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Springdale Park Spiritual Association fonds

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  • Textual record

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0.39m of textual records
17 photographs : colour

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Administrative history

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.

Name of creator

(1991 -)

Administrative history

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 incorperated 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.

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).

Scope and content

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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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Walter Meyer zu Erpen (Survival Research Institute of Canada, President)


The fonds was arranged in part with the transferring agent in accordance with specifications he provided.

Language of material

  • English

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There are no restrictions on access to this material.

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Users must abide by relevant copyright legislation.

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Associated 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 records from W.C. Partridge (founder) and Ruth Anne Dyke (minister); the various Survival Research Institute of Canada fonds; and the Winnipeg Spiritualist Church fonds, as a similar institution.

Survival Research Institute of Canada fonds Winnipeg Spiritualist Church fonds Psychical Research and Spiritualism Collections
Noreen Hodgson fonds
Joe and Lilian Bain fonds

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No further accruals are expected.

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Description record identifier

MSS 452 (A15-70)

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Rules for Archival Description (RAD)



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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Created by Samantha Booth, July 2015

Language of description

  • English

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Walter Meyer zu Erpen, research documents

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