Kitchener-Waterloo

Kitchener seances subject of new audio documentary, archives exhibit

Seances recorded in the early 1960s in Kitchener are the subject of a new audio documentary and University of Waterloo archives exhibit.
In 2015, 154 tapes were donated to Special Collections and Archives at the University of Waterloo. They're now the inspiration for an audio documentary and exhibit produced by Erin MacIndoe Sproule and Rebecca Swabey. (Submitted by Nick Richbell)

Seances recorded on reel-to-reel tapes at the Kitchener home of Otto Smith in early 1960s are being given new life in an audio documentary and University of Waterloo archives exhibit.

In 2015, 154 tapes were donated to Special Collections and Archives at the University of Waterloo. They're now the inspiration for an audio documentary and exhibit produced by Erin MacIndoe Sproule and Rebecca Swabey.

The duo, with the help of Nick Richbell at the University of Waterloo archives, have digitised about six hours of the reels so far.

"There is a lot of interesting conversations going on, on those tapes," said MacIndoe Sproule. "There is a lot of interesting communication between the Sitters, the people who came to participate in the seance, with the people who Thomas Lacey is channelling."

Medium claims to channel Kitchener spirits

They sessions include medium Thomas Lacey saying he is channeling the spirits of members of the local community including former Kitchener Mayor Joe Meinzinger, who passed away in 1962, as well as a young girl named Anna, also from Kitchener.

Lacey claims to connect with other more well-known names like Thomas Edison, the inventor of the phonograph and light bulb. Lacey then goes on to discuss physics with people in the room.

"We're really hoping we can get someone who is an expert on physics ... to listen to the tapes and tell us if it is real physics, because we don't really know," said MacIndoe Sproule. "That's the elephant in the room. Is this real?"

Who was Thomas Lacey?

The main character in MacIndoe Sproule and Swabey's documentary is the medium Thomas Lacey.

MacIndoe Sproule said Thomas Lacey was an Englishman born in Derbyshire, England and was active as a medium in Canada from about 1931 on.

Before the audio reels, she says he had a stenographer at the seances writing down what happened at the seances.

"[Lacey] channel's the spirit of his brother, Walter, who died at a very early age to contact the spirit world," said MacIndoe Sproule.

"From what I understand, Walter was the 'doorkeeper,' meaning that he would be the one deciding which spirits to let into the seance and which ones to keep out.  He would be considered a 'spirit guide.'"

Also in the room was Amirah, a "spiritual teacher" whose voice is heard on the audio recordings, as well as Otto Smith, the owner of the home where the seances took place.

Smith, a teacher at King Edward School in Kitchener, hosted regular seances at his home in the 1960s.

MacIndoe Sproule said there is a spiritualist church in the region and an active spiritualism community in the city now, which is going to be part of the audio documentary.

She and Swabey hope to present their finished product by the end of 2019.

In the early 1960's a man by the name of Thomas Lacey held seances here in Kitchener, at the home of Otto Smith. Many of the seances were recorded on reel-to-reel tapes. Modern for the times, but old fashioned now. Fast forward to the year 2015. One hundred and fifty-four of those audio tapes were donated to the University of Waterloo Special Collections and Archives. Erin Macindoe Sproule and Rebecca Swabey are in the midst of producing an audio docummentary and exhibit with UW. The project is called "The Ghost of Thomas Lacey" Erin MacIndoe Sproule joined the Morning Edition with Craig Norris. 6:22

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