Queen’s remembers Isabel Bader

Bader supported Queen’s in various facets of student life

Dr. Isabel Bader, (1926-2022).
Supplied by Queen's Media and Communications

Queen’s is mourning the loss of Isabel Bader, LL.D ’07, a major donor to the school alongside her late husband Alfred Bader, who passed away in 2018.  

Bader is remembered for her patronage of the arts, supporting students in various fields of study such as music, drama, and textile conservation. 

READ MORE: Queen’s mourns loss of Dr. Alfred Bader 

The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts opened in 2014 after a significant $31 million contribution from Isabel and Alfred Bader. 

In the centre’s 2014 opening ceremony, Isabel Bader expressed her hope the fine art world would reach many students. She hoped the centre would engage a wide audience at Queen’s, in Kingston, and beyond.

In 2020, Bader Philanthropies announced a $40 million donation in the revitalization program of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. Around half of the over 500 donated pieces of art in the Bader Collection currently reside on campus at the Agnes.  

The paintings—donated by the Baders—include four Rembrandt paintings, works by Jan Lievens, and other significant artists from the Dutch Golden Age of painting. 

Isabel Bader was an ardent supporter of organizations such as Sistema Kingston, an intensive after-school music program supported by Queen’s which gives underserved children the chance to engage with music learning.

According to Tricia Baldwin, director of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, Bader was excited about Indigenous programming taking place in the art community. 

Baldwin said showcasing Indigenous artists was a creative breath of fresh air for Bader because Indigenous art forms were suppressed in the past.

Bader Philanthropies supported the creation of the endowed Curatorship in Indigenous Arts and Culture at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, which was possible due to Bader’s work advocating for the position.

In a press release, Principal Patrick Deane said Queen’s was “very fortunate” to have been one of Bader’s priorities. Deane spoke to Bader’s active interest in Bader College—which opened its doors after the Baders' donation of Herstmonceux Castle.

“To have known Isabel—in all her warmth, gentleness, wit, and acuity—I will number among the great privileges of my life,” Deane said. “She was a gentle soul who delighted in seeing students thrive and discover their own potential through the arts.”

Aside from her philanthropic contributions, Bader taught at a girls’ school in Bexhill-on-Sea, England, for 28 years. Bader also co-founded the Thalia School of Elocution and Drama where she became a costume designer. 

Bader was a daughter of a northern Ontario family. According to Bader Philanthropies, she believed the spoken word connects us to the wider world, and the performing arts should elevate the experiences of those on and off stage. 

Alfred and Isabel Bader were married in 1982 after meeting in July of 1949.

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