The R.A. Laidlaw Centre at NBS

After 25 years of expansion, Betty Oliphant still had not fulfilled her ultimate vision for the School’s physical infrastructure. She wanted a stage training facility where students could rehearse and perform without a studio’s fourth wall. After years of further real estate negotiations and lobbying for financial support, her vision was finally achieved in 1988 with the opening of the R.A. Laidlaw Centre at 400, 404 and 406 Jarvis Street. The heart of this Centre was a 300-seat theatre with a full-size stage. In a fitting tribute to the woman who had played such a central role in the development of the School, it was named the Betty Oliphant Theatre. The Centre also included a conditioning pool, physiotherapy facilities and space for the Shoe Room, NBS’ retail venture.

The R.A. Laidlaw Centre contributed to NBS’ growing visual presence in downtown Toronto, a development that would continue into the 21st century.

Betty Oliphant, complete with hard hat, kicks off construction on the R.A. Laidlaw Centre alongside Bill Poole, David Silcox, Mavis Staines and Mora Oxley in 1986.

A central part of the R.A. Laidlaw Centre was the 300-seat Betty Oliphant Theatre, which fulfilled Betty Oliphant's dream of having a stage training facility in NBS. This photo shows the Betty Oliphant Theatre as it looked upon completion in 1988.