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1986 - 2017 (Accumulation)
- McCaslin, Susan
[ca. 1898]–1985 (Creation)
- Park, Mary Olga
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Name of creator
Mary Olga Park (née Bracewell) was a contemporary spiritualist mystic and self-published writer who lived most of her life in Vancouver, British Columbia. She was known for her non-denominational, theological beliefs and for the prophetic visions she experienced. She did not consider herself the head of a church or esoteric cult—or as a medium or psychic—but rather as a spiritual teacher.
Park was born to Ellen and Bruce Bracewell on February 24, 1891 in Gargrave, Yorkshire, England. As a child, Park showed an interest in nature, music and religion. Park was raised as a Wesleyan Methodist. After the local Wesleyan church disbanded, she secretly attended an Anglican Church against her parents’ wishes, as she was drawn by the music, liturgy, and sacramental worship. Park attended various schools in the suburbs of Birmingham until the age of fourteen, when she won a scholarship to Aston Pupil Teachers’ Centre. She studied there for three years, but also wished to pursue a career in music.
Park and her family immigrated to British Columbia in 1910, when Park was 19 years old. It was a difficult transition for Park, who had abandoned her musical and educational opportunities and social connections in England. The family settled in Revelstoke, British Columbia and soon after moved to a farm in South Vancouver, British Columbia. By 1914, Park began to receive dream visions showing her the experiences of soldiers in the First World War. From then on, she received psycho-spiritual experiences of Jesus Christ and other saints, philosophers, and thinkers.
On March 24, 1917, Park married James Fleming Park, and they had two children: Robert Bruce Park and James Samuel Park, who died a few days after his birth. Throughout the 1920s, Park was active at St. Mary’s Anglican Church in South Vancouver. She taught Sunday school and was a leading member of the church choir. During this time, Park became close with Rev. Charles Sydney McGaffin, the rector of the church. She considered him to be a man of progressive spiritual understanding. Through the 1940s, Park continued having visions and mystical experiences. Notably, Park received the words and music for a mystical communion service she practiced for the rest of her life at her own home worship altar, and kept a regular morning and evening practice of contemplative prayer. Park also became the Canadian representative of the Churches’ Fellowship for Psychical and Spiritual Studies in 1956–1963, corresponded with the Psychical Research Society in London, and was a member of the Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship.
Due to the broadening of her theology, she eventually felt compelled to move outside the parameters of the institutional Church. As she grew older, Park became dissatisfied with the nature of church dogma, or in her words, “Churchianity,” and broke ties with the Anglican Church. After her husband's death in 1959, she went to live with her son until 1964, when she moved to a small cottage in Port Moody. She devoted the rest of her life to living as a solitary contemplative. After word of her spiritual “awakening” and beliefs began to spread by her self-published books and by word of mouth, she received “seekers” and “learners” who wished to receive instruction on her spiritual practice. She began to regard those with whom she built her spiritual relationships as an informal society which had roots in interior realms and she referred to it as the Society of the Mystical Communion of Christ (SMCC).
Park continued to live alone at her cottage until 1978 when, after breaking an ankle, it was necessary to move back to Vancouver where she continued to receive visits from seekers and learners. Due to her advancing age and frailty, Park was transitioned to a care center for the elderly in Vancouver in 1983. Mary Olga Park died on December 13, 1985 at the age of ninety four.
Scope and content
The series contains records related to the personal life and administrative affairs of Mary Olga Park from ca. 1898 to 1985.
Park undertook research activities into understanding her own spiritual experiences. She studied astrology seriously, and understood spirituality in the context of star patterns. Park believed that astrological wisdom was central to her worldview, seeing that that the movements of the stars aligned with larger movements on earth.
She kept detailed subject files of clippings, articles, and notes on many different religious and spiritual phenomena, writings, and writers. Park also collected spiritualist publications including: include The Talk of the Times, the Spiritual Healer, The Aquarian Messenger, The International Spiritualist Review, Spiritual Frontiers, and Light: A Journal of Psychic Science. During the years spent in her remote cottage in Port Moody, Park undertook extensive Bible studies, keeping textual notes and annotations of the Book of Revelations, Gospels, as well as prophesies, parables, and other parts of the Bible.
Park maintained correspondence with family, friends, and her “learners” and “seekers” in her remote cottage in Port Moody. Also included are personal records Park kept for her own reference such as biographical research, astrological charts, and education certificates, as well as personal notebooks, notes and diaries. Park also made detailed cassette recordings of her talks, songs, communications with the Teacher, Master, and Rector, and sent cassette-letters to her learners explaining aspects of her communion service. Lastly, Park kept family photographs and collected cards and postcards throughout her life.
Record types include Bible study notes and annotations, family history research, education certificates, childhood books, religious and spiritualist publications, newspaper clippings and ephemera, diaries, notes, and personal notebooks, professional and personal correspondence, subject files on spiritualist matters, astrological charts, obituary records, photographs, audio cassettes, cards, and postcard collections.
Immediate source of acquisition
The original order of the psychic records was retained by the archivist. When deteriorating enclosures appeared, they were removed and replaced with new preservation enclosures. The information written on the original enclosures were transcribed on the new ones.
This series has notable additions of research by Susan McCaslin, Blanche Drake, and Park’s son Robert Park, interfiled with Park’s own records. After Park’s death, McCaslin left notes within some of Park’s original files giving new context to some records. She sometimes supplemented files with more contemporary records outside of Park’s dates of accumulation, such as in the case of the files, “3-10 Messages – Phone Conversations with S. McCaslin,” “2-2 Biographical”, and “2-22 Learners, Robert and Others, General.” Notably, McCaslin interfiled a research file of her own creation within the original order of Park’s records: “3-7 Susan McCaslin Research on Olga Park.” McCaslin also interfiled some of Robert Park’s records with his mother’s records, often by subject, such as in the case of the files, “11-1 Correspondence,” “2-2 Biographical,” and “2-11 Correspondence – Personal (2 of 2).” Lastly, records of Blanche Drake, a friend of Park’s during the 1970s and 1980s, appear in the series and were given to the caretakers of Park’s records after her death.
In order to preserve the context of the records moving forward, the archivist kept the order in which Park kept her records and the changes McCaslin may have made. Files with additions by McCaslin, Drake, or Robert Park have been noted in the file list and file description.
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• RBSC-ARC-1771-PH-041, 043, 053 to 054, 115 (medium prints – photograph storage)
• RBSC-ARC-1771-PH-002 to 003 (large prints – photograph storage)
• RBSC-ARC-1771-PH-004 (gls ambrotype)
• RBSC-ARC-1771-PH-005 to 011, 093 (col. slides)
• RBSC-ARC-1771-PH-055 to 066, 116 to 191 (film strip negatives)
• RBSC-ARC-1771-PH-104 (negative)
• RBSC-ARC-1771-AR-001 to 002 (cape and pin)
• RBSC-ARC-1771-SPC-01 to 66 (audio cassettes)
66 audio cassettes
1 cape : polyester, grey
1 pin : glass, col.
180 photograps b&w and col.; multiple processes
• 1 photograph : instant colour film print, col.
• 1 photograph : ambrotype positive, b&w
• 1 photograph: salted paper print, b&w
• 42 photographs: silver gelatin DOP, b&w
• 48 photographs : chromogenic, col.
• 7 photographs : 35 mm col. Slides
• 1 photograph : col. Slide (Kodachrome)
• 1 photograph : negative, b&w
• 86 photographs: cellulose acetate filmstrips; b&w