As a homage to his mom, Meena Sones, Jaymes White is dedicating his eighth séance to her memory.
Sones died at home on September 9 after a battle with endometrial cancer. For White, his mom always provided that stability, and it’s her “warrior personality” that is inspiring him to continue with the séance.
“My mom doesn’t want me to be sad. She wants me to push forward,” White said, during a September phone conversation. “She doesn’t want us to feel sorry for her.”
White will continue with his annual séance, which is being held in the Foy/Smith House at 92 Isabella Street. The home, which has been inhabited by some of Toronto’s early elites, including Helen McMaster of academic fame, is at the centre of a development conflict.
Members of the community have rushed to get it a heritage status to avoid the wrecking ball, or in Toronto-fashion, incorporated into the design of a 69-storey condo.
It has been a hospital, a residence for Jesuit priests, as well as the former home of civil rights lawyer Clayton Ruby.
“It’s so sad that they’re tearing it down,” White said. “What a waste. It’s beautiful.”
That rich history, as well as being located at the source of the old Moss Creek, which runs under the house, drew White in.
“It’s not every day you’re going to get a séance where we are the last people in the house before it gets demolished — unless there’s a miracle,” he said, adding he wanted to spread awareness to demolition. “The history of the house is insane.”
It was the residence of J.J. Foy, who ran for mayor of Toronto and was a contemporary of former mayor William Holmes Howland, who campaigned with the motto “Toronto the Good”. It is suspected that the nickname for the city was born within the walls of the Foy/Smith House.
The house also played a role during the smallpox outbreak of 1919-1920 when 11 people succumbed to the virus in the city, as well as the 1937 outbreak of polio that claimed 31 Torontonians.
As for what makes the location ideal for a séance, besides its history as a hospital, is the alleged poltergeist activity, and prevailing “weird vibes” in the house.
“We heard voices in random rooms, and we went into the kitchen and the cupboard was open even though we were there three minutes ago,” White recalled. “The common thing in this house is that a lot of people see figures that look like themselves or someone they know.”
Doppelgangers, as they are known, are often seen as harbingers or bad omens. Another building close by, where the phenomenon has also been reported, is the former home of The Looking Glass restaurant on Church Street, which is ironic given the mirror theme.
The Isabella Street Séance in Toronto runs from September 29 to November 25. White will keep his mother’s memory close to him and live by her philosophy.
“My mom was always a positive person. She was always a fighter and she never complained,” he said. “Cancer didn’t change her. Cancer didn’t take her pride away. So, I am proud of that.”
Photo by Brian Baker/The Superstitious Times