Queen's University

Isabel Bader Centre

  • [artistic rendering of site circa 1880-90]
    Artistic rendering of site circa 1880-90
  • [historical image 1831 - HMS St Lawrence]
    Historical image 1831 - HMS St Lawrence
  • [aerial photo of military hospital on site taken by Billy Bishop 1919]
    Military hospital: Billy Bishop photo 1919
  • [historical image 1890 - drawing of brewery]
    Drawing of brewery circa 1880
  • [historical image 1880-90 - drawing of brewery]
    Drawing of brewery from 1880-90
  • [historical image 1867 - site map]
    Historical image 1867 - site map
  • [historical image 1865 - site map]
    Historical image 1865 - site map
  • [historical image 1850 - site map]
    Historical image 1850 - site map
  • [historical image 1850 - map]
    Historical image 1850 - map


The site of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, on the shore of Lake Ontario, is currently known as the J.K. Tett Creativity Complex.

The J.K. Tett Creativity Centre will be maintained as an arts cluster owned by the City of Kingston, while the Stella Buck and former stable buildings will be redeveloped and incorporated into the new Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, rejuvenating the buildings and preserving their historical and architectural significance.

The site comprises:

  • the Stella Buck Building,
  • the former stable building, and
  • the J.K. Tett Creativity Centre, which is owned by the City of Kingston.

History of the site:

Date Event
1832 Robert Drummond and James Morton establish Morton’s brewery, using limestone quarried from the Kingston area.
1832 The HMS St. Lawrence, a 112-gun warship of the Royal Navy that served on Lake Ontario during the War of 1812, is docked at Morton’s Brewery and used as a storage facility. When it arrives at the brewery, the ship is already dilapidated and eventually sinks more than 30 feet under water. The location is now a popular dive spot.
1834 Robert Drummond dies during a cholera epidemic; James Morton assumes control of the business.
1835 A disastrous fire occurs at the brewery.
1840 By 1840, Morton is able to buy out the Drummond family’s interest in the business and rebuilds the brewery.
1844 A distillery is added to the site.
1850 By 1850, Morton doubles the size of the distillery and builds a new malt house.
1854 By 1854, a tenement for employees is added and a row of cottages is built.
1855 More than 60 families are supported by employment at the brewery.
1864 After years of over-extending himself, Morton dies bankrupt.
1895 L.H. Clark and Co. Malsters operate at the site; Jon McMilland and Sons operate the distillery until the turn of the century.
1900 Maple Leaf Milling Company uses the buildings for grain storage.
1918 Canadian Ministry of Works conducts a major survey of the buildings in preparation for converting the buildings to the Sydenham Military Hospital.
1918-1923 The Sydenham Military Hospital operates at the site during WWI.
1919 Famed pilot Billy Bishop of Bishop-Barker Company Ltd. takes an aerial photograph of the site (see below, right).
1927-1968 The site becomes the Military Regional Headquarters.
1975 The site becomes the J.K Tett Creativity Complex.
2007 The City of Kingston sells the former stable building and Stella Buck building to Queen’s University.

As a drama student at Queen's, what is readily apparent is the lack of quality performance space in Kingston. The University's arts community has always been strong. From the various concert ensembles, to student-driven dramatic productions, to first-rate films and art work, Queen's students have truly embraced the can do spirit in showcasing their work in facilities that have been largely outgrown. The new Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts will allow Queen's students to thrive artistically in a modern, professional and larger space. Students in general will benefit from the centre as both a place of learning and as a location for campus groups and events.

Michael Ceci. Arts'09, former President of the Alma Mater Society