Upholding Dr. Harry Paikin's Dedication

By Matt Jelly
Published February 01, 2012

This dedication was inscribed in the marble walls in the lobby of 100 Main Street West, written by Dr. Harry Paikin, who served as a Hamilton school board trustee from 1944 until his death in 1985.

Not to the sword, but to the pen,
Not to the bomb, but to the microscope
Not to the treasures of earth and sea
But to the treasures of mind and spirit
Do we dedicate this building.

What are the great words of human thought,
Born of the struggles and sufferings of humanity
Through the ages
If they be not god and love,
Understanding and compassion,
Brotherhood and equality,
Progress and Education?
Let these be the heritage of our future generations,
Passed by us to younger hands and stouter hearts,
That they may make of them,
Proud flying banners blazing to the sun,
And clear, clarion calls to a happy life,
Wherein wisdom and peace,
Freedom and equality,
Science and love
Shall guide the steps of man.

H. Paikin, M.D.


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.


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By Lakeside (registered) | Posted February 01, 2012 at 11:38:45

I love that inscription, especially the opening stanza.

A couple weekends ago we took a walk around the perimeter of the closed building. Up close, you can't help but note that this building is chock full of little details like this.

Every proportion has been worked out excruciatingly. Nowhere will you see a wall tile that comes to an abrupt end. Each element of the coffered soffit starts and ends perfectly. The terazzo floor in the lobby features an inlaid array of marble tiles that I haven't seen anywhere else.

The sculpture over the entrance depicts education through the ages. The above dedication is actually engraved into the wall tile.

Thought not in his style, the attention to detail shown here would likely have impressed even Mies van der Rohe, himself known to obsess over every detail in his buildings.

Also evident is the pattern of non-maintenance. Even the windows look as though though they haven't been washed in a year or two. What better way to garner support from its inhabitants for moving from the 'dirty' core and leaving the 'decrepit' building behind. Have you ever looked out a dirty window, and then cleaned it to see the difference? The difference is quite dramatic.

To see this building up close is to be impressed by the weight of this institution. But driving by at speed, and always from the same direction, this is lost. You really have to get down to ground level and dwell for a moment to take it all in, which further illustrates the need to restore the intended function of its, and City Hall's, forecourt. These areas should be redesigned to encourage use by the public.

We weren't able to get inside but just looking at the exterior, and what interior details can be seen from outside, it's apparent that Singer and his team went to lengths to give this building a soul.

Perhaps this is what bothers them (other than having to pay for parking and walk a block). It must drive them crazy to walk by all this lofty symbolism each day as they come in to close yet another Hamilton school. It must seem a building totally out of touch with the modern 'realities' of education, where costs have to be cut and pensions must be grown.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted February 01, 2012 at 14:05:29

Grand old buildings like this were built with noble purposes in mind. What would the builders and architects and what would Dr. Harry Paikin say about the fate of the building, and what the school board is proposing to do?

It's a shame. Almsot as much so as the former Hamilton Public Library (now family court) on Main Street. Imagine the craftsmen spending their time to make a library to serve as a beacon for learning for generations, only to have it turned into a courthouse.

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By bpotstra (registered) | Posted February 01, 2012 at 14:58:35 in reply to Comment 73610

At least that courthouse is still standing... for now. Imagine how awesome a parking lot would be on that corner!! Think of the revenue another parking lot could generate for the city!


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By highwater (registered) | Posted February 01, 2012 at 20:43:30

I wonder what ditch that marble slab will end up in.

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By DrAwesomesauce (registered) | Posted February 01, 2012 at 21:45:15

As an aside, if you pause the video at 17 seconds, you can see a sketch of the proposed planetarium meant to go beside the education centre. I'd forgotten about that. The plans for civic square were much different from what we actually got.

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted February 01, 2012 at 23:23:32 in reply to Comment 73634


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By TnT (registered) | Posted February 02, 2012 at 18:17:26

No Matt, I must disagree we don't need another bingo hall in that space.

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