Nancy Leatherdale was born in Vancouver in 1915. She grew up in what is now Kerrisdale, and at the early age of 16 was already helping a neighbor with music. She graduated from McGee High school, then went on to get her Registered Nursing degree at Vancouver General Hospital in 1937.
After a very short posting to Alert Bay, she returned to Vancouver when her father died. Subsequently she met Ken Leatherdale and they were married in 1939, establishing a home in Point Grey. Together they raised four children.
Nancy also developed a keen interest in music. She obtained certification as an Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Music (ARCT), joined the Vancouver Women’s Music Society, and maintained an active role in teaching music and organizing musical events.
In 1971, Ken and Nancy retired to Salmon Arm. There was a shortage of music teachers here at that time, so she quickly accumulated a full roster of students in voice and piano, ranging from beginners to full degree-level coaching.
Drawing on her contacts on the Vancouver music scene she began to host guest performers at “living room concerts” on her grand piano. Musical recitals were also a regular occurrence in their home. One noteworthy event was when she talked the performers of the only double-ended harpsichord in Canada into bringing it to Salmon Arm for a performance. In her early eighties, Nancy decided to broaden her musical horizons and took up the cello.
She was instrumental in pulling the musical community together to join with other artists to form what is now known as the Shuswap District Arts Council and was a motivating force behind getting a grand piano for the arts centre, rather than renting for each event.
She is a longstanding supporter of the Shuswap Music Festival as well as the Shuswap Men’s Chorus. In fact, at the age of 90, when she discovered that several of the men in the chorus were memorizing their music because they could not read it, she took them in hand and held weekly tutoring sessions until they were all proficient in reading music. It was only due to failing eyesight that she decided to curtail her teaching.
Nancy has established this fund so that future performing music students can get financial help in furthering their excellence. She would be thrilled with any contributions to this endowment dedicated to supporting students who excel in their pursuit of performing music and who wish to further their studies.