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Isabel Overton Bader was born November 1, 1926, in Kirkland Lake, a gold mining town in Northeast Ontario, Canada. In 1949, she met Alfred Bader on a sea voyage to the United Kingdom and developed an immediate bond, but eventually parted ways. For the next 28 years, she pursued a career in teaching, co-founding a drama school, the Thalia School of Elocution and Drama, and became a skilled costume designer. Despite this long separation, the spark between Isabel and Alfred never waned, and remarkably, they eventually managed to reconnect and were finally married in 1982.

Together, Alfred and Isabel Bader became influential philanthropists, particularly supporting the arts and education. They generously contributed to the University of Toronto (U of T) and Queen’s University. Notably, they played a crucial role in the construction of the Isabel Bader Theatre at U of T, along with significant donations to Queen’s. Isabel’s philanthropic vision later shifted towards supporting indigenous and immigrant communities.

Accomplishments Timeline

Isabel Bader, daughter of Herbert and Estelle Overton, was born on November 1, 1926 in New Liskeard, Ontario, Canada.
Isabel received a bachelor’s degree with honors in History and Modern Languages at Victoria University, now known as the University of Toronto.
On January 26, 1982, Isabel married Alfred Bader in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
In recognition of Isabel Bader’s tremendous contributions, Queen's University bestowed on her an honorary degree.
Isabel and Alfred Bader supported the construction of the Isabel Bader Theatre.
Isabel and Alfred at the gala opening ceremonies of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.
The University of Toronto inducted Isabel and Alfred into the Chancellor’s Circle of Benefactors, which recognizes the University’s most generous donors.
Isabel gifted funds for the creation of the Bader Chair in Art Conservation at Queen’s University.
Did you know?
Isabel Bader’s hometown, Kirkland Lake, in Ontario, Canada, was a tough mining town, consisting of immigrants from Europe.
Did you know?
Isabel Bader celebrated her 80th birthday on November 1, 2006 in Herstmonceux Castle with two days of festivities including a noon tea and evening concert.
Did you know?
Between July 1949 to October 1951, Isabel and Alfred Bader wrote over 400 handwritten letters to one another.

Photo Credit: Queens University at Kingston