When, in 1918, at the age of 44, he began his first tentative experiments in the psychic field he was very skeptical of the things that he observed.
So - just exactly how and why did he become involved in research that generally reflected very little public notice except for some tendency to detract from other good work done.
It was in the autumn, September of 1918, that Dr. Hamilton's interest in psychic phenomena was stirred by a Sunday morning sermon in his home church that one of his dearest friends, Dr. W. T. Allison, gave that morning.
With sunlight flooding the church through the stained glass windows, Dr. Allison spoke in a voice vibrant with conviction, reminding the flock of the depth of God's love, even though at times they suffered and knew pain and death and sorrow.
He also reminded his listeners that morning that God has bestowed upon mankind great gifts of mind and talents and knowing. He said that by striving mightily we might expand these gifts and thus become truly sons and daughters of God.
God sent his son to show mankind the way of life, and by his death and resurrection to demonstrate that life is continuous. There is a life beyond death where we meet again those whom we love; and there we may learn new ways of serving God and humanity. Many that morning were greatly impressed with the passionate energy with which Dr. Allison described these possibilities.
Dr. W. T. Allison was at that time Professor of English Literature in Wesley College, Winnipeg. Later he became Professor in the same field at University of Manitoba. He was also a graduate of Toronto University in Arts and Theology and he had gotten his doctorate at Yale. He wrote newspaper essays that were published by Ryerson Press of Toronto; he was one of the most widely known and best beloved teachers and writers of his day. He had been ordained into the ministry, so he preached now and then and he conducted the literary page of the Winnipeg Tribune for many years. For almost two decades he also spoke on books over the radio, and helped found the Canadian Authors' Association - even was National President at one time.
Later that Sunday he lunched with the Hamiltons in their home; and he told of the experiences which lay behind his unusually moving sermon.
Earlier that summer, while lecturing at a University in the United States, he had been able to participate in a seance at the home of John and Pearl Curran of St. Louis. Here he had met the discarnate personality Patience Worth.
He had been astonished at the wit and keen mind of the communicator who purported to come through the Ouija board. He had been hard pressed to keep up with the pace of the conversation to begin with; and he was amazed at the creative ability of the communicator: the skill at portraying character and plot rivalled Dickens, he thought; on top of that she was a remarkable poet. Many of her poems expressed a love of God and humanity that exceeded anything he had found in classical literature.
Mrs. Curran had only a high school education and it was simply unlikely that the materials had come from her mind. But then - where had they come from? Was there a personality surviving death, as Patience insisted, and continuing life and creativity beyond physical death?
He had come down on the side of the angels, he said, and now felt that the personality calling herself Patience Worth was indeed a consciousness surviving death who had lived 'across the sea' in 1694. She was able to give details of life in England that corresponded favourably with what was known about that time and place.
So, in October and November of 1918, Dr. Hamilton and the pastor of King Memorial Church on Cobourg Avenue, Reverend D. N. McLachlan, began to carry out thought-transference experiments.
Dr. Hamilton would draw intricate figures or write words or phrases or express ideas on his prescription pad and in a separate room Reverend McLachlan would reproduce these, in a remarkably accurate way.
They did experiments which included a ten-year-old child, Lucy, daughter of another clergyman living in Winnipeg; her abilities came to light while she played with a Ouija board which had been given to her by a neighbour as a Christmas gift.
In one experiment Dr. Hamilton took a medical prescription pad and wrote one word, 'Lily', on the pad. This was an abbreviation of Lillian Hamilton's name. The word was covered over by several folds of a handkerchief, and Lucy read the word accurately in spite of that.
Her response was "Oh, the beautiful lily, the beautiful lily pad that floats on the water."
But she was now speaking as 'Bluehide', an alleged deceased but living Native American who would be well acquainted with this flora of the northern lakes.
This was the Hamiltons' first encounter with a will seemingly external to the medium - the medium in this case being a child who was not part of a spiritistic environment and who knew nothing of psychical phenomena.
In another experiment with Lucy, Professor Allison wrote the word 'pigs' and Dr. Hamilton placed his hand on the planchette of the Ouija board to allow it to spell automatically. There were no visible results.
Lucy was called from her play and she placed her hand on the back of Dr. Hamilton's hand, and immediately the pointer spelled 'pigs.'
This time an entity calling himself 'Philip' purported to be the real communicator.
After much experimentation the researchers became convinced that telepathy is a fact of life.
Now that their curiosity had been thoroughly aroused, the Hamiltons acquired and read the Patience Worth literature and whatever else they could find on the topic of 'psychics.'
One night in 1918, during the telepathic experiments between Dr. Hamilton and Mr. McLachlin as receiver, a prophecy broke out which ran to the effect that 'My son will be appointed head of the Social Service Agencies of the Church for the whole of Canada.' Mr. McLachlin's father was the purported communicator.
When union took place some four years later between the Methodist and Presbyterian churches, and the United Church resulted, this forecast was fulfilled.
A second prophecy came during the same autumn of 1918. While Dr. Hamilton was drafting short sentences for Mr. McLachlan's hand to reproduce, he suddenly heard words being spoken within his own mind, and that he felt strangely impelled to speak aloud. No notes were kept of the exact words, but they were to the effect that a great revelation of life after death would come to light through his work; that his name would be known for this work in many countries, and that his wife was blessed among women because of the share of this work that would fall on her shoulders.
Shock and disbelief, the reaction to this incident, can be imagined. Here was Dr. Hamilton - calm, cautious, scientific - speaking in this fantastic manner.
It boggled the mind and rattled the soul; and the shock almost brought on the failure of the promised enterprise.
[ Photo of Dr. Hamilton later in life - undated ]
The Hamilton's had not the slightest thought or intention of becoming known as investigators into this difficult and shadowy field of inquiry.
These experiments were with close friends only, and they were closely guarded secrets. It would simply not do for the Hamiltons' interests in such derided and suspicious activities to become known by the wider community.
Publicity was so abhorrent an idea to Dr. Hamilton that the only explanation he and Mr. McLachlan could think of was that evil influences had somehow invaded their circle and descended on them, and that the whole inquiry must be abandoned at once.
A very deep state of shock had come to Dr. Hamilton: he could not sleep; he feared for his sanity; and he only recovered after three days of bed rest and the application of strong sedatives.
Now he thought that he understood that psychic research was not safe for him: he felt this endeavour to be dangerous to his physical and his mental health; and he appeared to be also concerned for the health of his soul.
Thus ended the 1918 adventures into the psychic realm. To Dr. Hamilton it was the absolute end.
At that time no one was willing to admit to the possibility of inter-communication between the two states of existence; no one was willing to admit that such a state was a reality.
Then, also in the final months of 1918, all four of the Hamilton children came down with the flu that was raging around the world.
At the turning of the year, on January 27, 1919, Arthur Lamont Hamilton, one of the twins born in 1915, died of influenzal pneumonia.
Dr. Hamilton was almost inconsolable.
He was a strict, stern Presbyterian, and he believed that his great love for his little son was being punished by having the little lad taken from him.
Dr. Hamilton's decision to put a stop to all the psychic nonsense was firm and final: there would be no further investigations as far as he was concerned.
But to his wife, Lillian, the road was still open. She had a deep and gripping interest in these phenomena, and she drew great comfort in the belief that her little son, Arthur, was now in a discarnate state but conscious and happy.
[ Photo of Lillian Hamilton - undated ]
Dr. Hamilton had bought a book by Myers entitled 'Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death'.
Mrs. Hamilton read the book and saw in it the answer to the whole problem. Life did go on. There was intercommunication possible between the incarnate and the discarnate aspects of existence. The method of intercommunication - which had been proved to work between minds incarnate on earth - must also be possible between the minds in the bodies on this earth and the minds without physical bodies that existed in some unknown sphere. It also followed that minds of discarnates would communicate with each other in this manner in the planes of the hereafter.
She did not stress her ideas to anyone - not even to her husband - but for her the problem was settled: religious faith was no longer isolated, but walked hand in hand with science. It was a world of belief that helped her to part with little Arthur without tears and with an inner joy in the knowledge that one of her little beloveds was already over there, moving into other-worldly adventures.
There has been much said of Dr. Hamilton and his dedication to his work of bringing and spreading the truth of life eternal, and the admiration for him is well deserved; but far too little has been said in remembrance of the lady who enhanced his life. Without her, most likely the important work that Dr. Hamilton did would not have been done.
This lady was a tower of quiet strength, always in the background, unaware of the great importance of her own work.
Many years later one of the communicators from the other side of life expressed his belief in her importance to the work by stating that it was around her that psychic work could unfold. She brought the energies that made the outstanding achievements of Dr. Hamilton's group possible.
She was the dynamo.