Special Report: Education

Joe Singer and the Education Centre

Currently, the School Board intends to sell 100 Main Street West, Joe Singer's signature work, to McMaster University, who plans to demolish the building for a new development.

By Matt Jelly
Published February 21, 2012

Joe Singer was born in Krakow, Poland. He served in the Polish Air Force at the onset of World War II, and was detained for a time in a Siberian work camp. Towards the end of the war, he was retrained as a pilot in Canada and flew 23 missions over Nazi Germany, and served as a navigator for food drops over Holland, until they were ultimately liberated by Canadian troops.

In 1954, Singer emigrated to Canada and designed several local schools, as well as the Board of Education building at 100 Main Street West, and Temple Anshe Sholom in Westdale.

Currently, the School Board intends to sell 100 Main Street West, Singer's signature work, to McMaster University, who plans to demolish the building for a new development.

Please contact your local school board trustee, city councillor, MPP and the Minister of Education Laurel Broten.

tim.simmons@hwdsb.on.ca, robert.barlow@hwdsb.on.ca, studenttrustee@hwdsb.on.ca, judith.bishop@hwdsb.on.ca, ray.mulholland@hwdsb.on.ca, todd.white@hwdsb.on.ca, laura.peddle@hwdsb.on.ca, lillian.orban@hwdsb.on.ca, wes.hicks@hwdsb.on.ca, alex.johnstone@hwdsb.on.ca, jessica.brennan@hwdsb.on.ca, karen.turkstra@hwdsb.on.ca, dlcouncil@hamilton.ca, lbroten.mpp@liberal.ola.org, ahorwath-co@ndp.on.ca, presdnt@mcmaster.ca, mattjelly@gmail.com

Jelly is a local artist, graphic designer and map maker living in Downtown Hamilton, Ontario in the Central Neighbourhood. Matt is an advocate for built heritage, toxic waste eradication and the revitalization of downtown Hamilton. www.mattjelly.com

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By DrAwesomesauce (registered) | Posted February 21, 2012 at 21:35:43

Interviewing Joseph Singer was a nice touch. If that doesn't move people a little, I'm not sure what will.

Thanks for your hard work. Let's stop the madness.

p.s. The interior of the building is fabulous. We couldn't re-created that if we tried.

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By Wow (anonymous) | Posted February 21, 2012 at 21:56:54

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted February 21, 2012 at 22:11:19 in reply to Comment 74599

Did you even watch the video, or are you wilfully ignorant?

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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted February 21, 2012 at 21:59:37 in reply to Comment 74599

You haven't been inside? It's almost as cool as the GO station.

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By jacob (registered) | Posted February 21, 2012 at 22:14:07

incredible.

The BoE building was part of the dark ages of Hamilton where we tore half the city down and relocated thousands of people. Now our idea for remedying this is to follow the exact same method. They would have torn City Hall down too and look at it now. Let's learn from our mistakes!

The staircase, the interiors, the whole aesthetic - we're only just starting to appreciate it. Great job Matt, absolutely stunning video.

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By Spektor (anonymous) | Posted February 21, 2012 at 22:25:13

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By stretching (anonymous) | Posted February 21, 2012 at 23:03:58 in reply to Comment 74603

Is your house worth saving?

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By Razamatazz (anonymous) | Posted February 22, 2012 at 04:18:11

Solution: A pro-heritage private interest steps in and outbids McMaster, buying time as well as the building. Then the city buys an equivalent parcel of land to donate to McMaster, streamlining the construction process and preserving funding guarantees from senior government, without which McMaster would remain west of Dundurn.

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By Watching (anonymous) | Posted February 22, 2012 at 13:53:46 in reply to Comment 74606

I believe the Board can only sell to a pre-determined list of other institutions, which includes Mac, Mohawk, the Catholic Board, etc. 444 would require them to give these other institutions first right of refusal, before the property could be put out for private sale.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted February 22, 2012 at 09:17:56

While I am perhaps not as big a fan of the architecture as some. I can't help but think that a city with as many vacant lots and completely derelict buildings as Hamilton whose "leaders" believe the solution to anything is to demolish a perfectly good building must be run by people in the throes of some sort of deep psychosis.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted February 22, 2012 at 12:25:59 in reply to Comment 74616

Hamilton ... the only place where places to park are more important than places to work.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted February 22, 2012 at 10:31:22 in reply to Comment 74616

I can't help but think ... deep psychosis.

Yeah. And then some.

I wonder how anyone on Council would respond to these questions:

"How would you describe 'great leadership'? Can you provide three good examples from City Council from the past five years?"

I'd also be curious about how a) RTHers would answer...as well as b) Hamiltonians-at-large.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 22, 2012 at 11:17:33 in reply to Comment 74625

How would you describe 'great leadership'?

Doing the right thing, not the expedient thing.

Can you provide three good examples from City Council from the past five years?

Three examples of leadership in five years seems like a pretty low bar, but here goes:

  1. Voting unanimously to support a plan to design and build LRT along the B-Line after a two-phase feasibility study and the most extensive public consultation I've ever seen demonstrated a strong empirical and democratic case to proceed.

  2. Finally fixing area rating. Granted, they stalled and delayed for years and dumped the problem onto a "citizen jury" just in time to avoid getting a recommendation until after an election, but the final solution was creative, fair and equitable to everyone.

  3. Agreeing to take four streets off the truck route that cut through the middle of dense mixed residential neighbourhoods. Council could have gone farther and pushed for a truck route that actually balances local residential needs against the convenience of fast through truck traffic, but it was a start, and it represented a meaningful response to extensive citizen engagement.

  4. Bonus (added as an edit): Council's decision to suspend zoning enforcement for creative industries downtown.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2012-02-22 11:32:33

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted February 22, 2012 at 11:43:53 in reply to Comment 74627

Finally fixing area rating.

Did you read Dreschel's thoughts on this in today's piece?

And I have to say that 'Doing the right thing, not the expedient thing' while nicely turned, is a little too vague for my tastes.

What is 'the right thing'? According to whom?

I get what you're saying, I'm not in disagreement with it, but I surely wouldn't put that in a training manual for leaders. : )

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 22, 2012 at 11:54:21 in reply to Comment 74630

Did you read Dreschel's thoughts on this in today's piece?

I did, and I would draw a distinction between an enlightened solution that resolves the problem and a quick fix that tries to make the problem go away.

And I have to say that 'Doing the right thing, not the expedient thing' while nicely turned, is a little too vague for my tastes.

I knew you wouldn't like it, but it was a comment, not a manifesto.

The right thing:

  • Actually achieves the underlying objective (in this case minimizing waste);

  • Solves the real problem, not the manufactured 'crisis' (i.e. illegal dumping, which is mostly unrelated to residential garbage limits);

  • Is supported by the evidence, not propped up by fear and anecdotes;

and so on.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted February 23, 2012 at 10:07:58 in reply to Comment 74631

I can't disagree with that outline of what is "the right thing" Ryan, but much like the engineers I work with I'm afraid I'm going to tell you that what you have there is good on paper only.

Actually achieves the underlying objective…

There is usually more than one way to skin a cat so this often becomes a debate of preference. And if the one way happens to make you or one of your political friends more money that is probably the way that will be chosen… not sure if that is right though. If I want to blow up a building I can use dynamite or demolition equipment. Both achieve the underlying objective, but if I've invested in dynamite futures ;) the "right thing" is obvious to me.

Solves the real problem, not the manufactured 'crisis'…

Very hard to distinguish between the two these days because many of us are still dependent on traditional media for our information and at best our media has lost its ability (willingness?) to differentiate between the two and at worst is complacent in manufacturing the crisis. Making the "real problem" difficult to determine.

supported by the evidence, not propped up by fear and anecdotes

Evidence can be bought and paid for, fear and anecdotes can be manufactured, this is why we have a "climate debate." We live in a world where almost everything can be questioned and debated (and that is intentional). Where corporations employ as many (or more) scientists as universities and many scientists are more loyal to money than science. There is no shortage of disagreement on almost any subject often with the purveyors of evidence right in the thick of it arguing amongst themselves.

I think you have outlined very good criteria Ryan, I just fear those three criteria are becoming harder and harder to determine. What is the real problem, what is the factual evidence, what works and what doesn't, all these things are routinely debated now. There is a movement afoot to make everything subjective to make all opinions of equal value, to erode and discredit any notion of factually and evidentially right, to make everything a debate… to hide truth.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted May 11, 2012 at 12:43:17

Powerful.

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