Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts

Queen's University Queen's University
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History & Heritage

  • [Historical image 1831 - HMS St Lawrence]
  • [Historical image 1850 - map]
  • [Historical image 1850 - site map]
  • [Historical image 1865 - site map]
  • [Historical image 1867 - site map]
  • [Drawing of brewery from 1880-90]
    Drawing of brewery from 1880-90
  • [Drawing of brewery circa 1880]
    Drawing of brewery circa 1880
  • [Military hospital: Billy Bishop photo 1919]
    Military hospital: Billy Bishop photo 1919

The site of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, on the shore of Lake Ontario, was previously known as the J.K. Tett Creativity Complex. The site included the J.K. Tett Centre, the former stable building and the Stella Buck building. Queen’s purchased the stable and Stella Buck buildings as the site for the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

The City of Kingston continues to own and manage the J.K. Tett Centre, now known as The Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning and reimagined as an arts hub.  The Stella Buck and former stable buildings have been redeveloped and incorporated into the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, revitalizing the buildings and preserving their historical and architectural significance.

History of the Site




Robert Drummond and James Morton establish Morton’s Brewery, using limestone quarried from the Kingston area.


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.


Robert Drummond dies during a cholera epidemic; James Morton assumes control of the business.


A disastrous fire occurs at the brewery.


By 1840, Morton is able to buy out the Drummond family’s interest in the business and rebuilds the brewery.


A distillery is added to the site.


By 1850, Morton doubles the size of the distillery and builds a new malt house.


By 1854, a tenement for employees is added and a row of cottages is built.


More than 60 families are supported by employment at the brewery.


After years of over-extending himself, Morton dies bankrupt.


L.H. Clark and Co. Malsters operate at the site; Jon McMilland and Sons operate the distillery until the turn of the century.


Maple Leaf Milling Company uses the buildings for grain storage.


Canadian Ministry of Works conducts a major survey of the buildings in preparation for converting the buildings to the Sydenham Military Hospital.


The Sydenham Military Hospital operates at the site during WWI.


Famed pilot Billy Bishop of Bishop-Barker Company Ltd. takes an aerial photograph of the site (see slideshow).


The site becomes the Military Regional Headquarters.


The site becomes the J.K Tett Creativity Complex and the western building is converted to a training facility for socially disadvantaged and handicapped individuals. It is named after local social worker Stella Buck.


The City of Kingston sells the former stable building and Stella Buck building to Queen’s University.