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Dr. T. Glen Hamilton was a medical doctor and member of the Manitoba legislature who became a devout spiritualist and paranormal researcher following an experience with a Ouija board after the death of his young son in 1919. He hosted seances in a room dedicated to the purpose on the second floor of his home on Henderson Highway in Winnipeg. The room was lit by a red ceiling light, and equipped with a cabinet, table and chairs, and a bank of twelve cameras arranged to capture spiritual phenomena as they occurred. One camera had a wide-angle lens, another a quartz lens said to be sensitive to ultraviolet light; two were set up to produce stereoscopic images. The cameras stood with shutters open until Hamilton was instructed by a spirit (via the presiding medium) to set off a flash of magnesium powder that would provide enough light for the cameras to record the state of the seance in an instant.
Present in many of Hamilton’s photos of entranced mediums are images of ectoplasm, a substance maintained by spiritualists to be the physical manifestation of spiritual energy; it was believed to deteriorate in the presence of light. Instances of ectoplasmic manifestations were common in early twentieth-century seance photography. The ectoplasm in some of these photos was later declared by skeptics to consist of muslin, string, tissue paper, photos clipped from magazines and concoctions of soap mixed with gelatin or egg whites.
Dr. Hamilton became well known as an expert in paranormal research: he travelled throughout Canada lecturing on the subject and displaying his photographs as evidence of the spiritual world. He conducted seances with such notable spiritualists as Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (who, in addition to writing the Sherlock Holmes stories, was a spirit photographer).