The Delta Community Music School was founded in September 1981 by the Delta Symphony Society to foster the growth of arts education in Delta. It has undergone several name changes since its founding: It has been formally known as the Delta Conservatory of Music, and the Delta Institute of the Arts.
As of March 2010, we have been in residence at the McKee Heritage House on Arthur Drive in Ladner, BC.
The Delta Conservatory of Music commenced operations on September 21, 1981, ten years after the inauguration of the Delta Youth Orchestra. This excerpt is taken from the original proposal: (source: Delta Community Music School Archives)
In 1983 the Delta Conservatory of Music founded its own board of directors, with the Kennell’s participating. The name changed to Delta Institute of the Arts (DIA) and expanded rapidly in the mid-1980s to include a conservatory of music, an Orff and Kodaly program, a Music Therapy program, and a Theatre Arts program, with classes being held in Ladner, Tsawwassen, and North Delta. Jean and Frank Kennell retired in 1988 from the board of the DIA, and moved to Vancouver Island. We sincerely thank them for the work they have done to foster the arts in Delta.
Through the efforts of Jean Kennell (DSS. President 1978-81) and her husband Frank (DSS board 1975 – 1982), the Delta Conservatory of Music was formed and taught classes after school at Delta Secondary School. Jean Kennell left the DSS to become the secretary of the new conservatory, and both became the driving force behind the new music school.
The Delta Institute of the Arts downsized in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and could no longer offer the Theatre and Music Therapy programs it once did. In December 1994 the DIA became known as the Delta Community Music School.
“… A principal concern is and will remain the assurance of a continuous flow of gifted young players through the dyo programme. An absence, or shortage, of important instruments in the orchestra (Bass, horns, trombones, percussion, etc. has been a major source of concern… To obtain cello and bass players we must have teachers of these instruments working in an official capacity with the Orchestra. As we have a full slate of conductors and sectional instructors the ideal way to involve other teachers is to encourage them to teach in the community of Delta… The establishment of a Conservatory of Music with its own facilities would be of great assistance in the growth of the musical culture in this community.“
The John McKee Residence, located on the south edge of Ladner village, is a two-story wood-frame late Victorian era residence, recognizable for its stacked front verandahs and scroll-cut ornamentation. It stands on a spacious corner lot at the intersection of Arthur Drive and 47th Avenue and is part of an established residential street of homes dating to the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
The John McKee Residence is of heritage value for its long term associations with the prominent McKee family. It was built in 1895 for Thomas Kerr, a partner in the Grant and Kerr Sawmill, which was located on the western side of Chilukthan Slough. When the mill relocated to Port Guichon, Kerr sold the house to John McKee and his wife, Margaret, in 1898. The home passed to their son, John McKee Jr. after the death of his father in 1900. John married Lilla McNeill in 1903, after which time the house became known as ‘Rosetta.’ The McKees enlarged and remodeled the house in 1912. After John McKee Junior died in 1931, his wife Lilla – well known locally for her service to the community – lived here until her death in 1959, at which time the house was inherited by her nephew, Judge J.D. McNeill.
Additionally, the John McKee Residence is significant as a prominent local example of late Victorian-era architecture, which symbolizes privilege and the social status of its early residents. The early date of the house, mature plantings and prominent location on this desirable portion of Arthur Drive lend the house a landmark stature. The heritage significance of the John McKee Residence was recognized in the community at an early date. In 1975, the house and property were acquired by the Corporation of Delta, and in 1983 municipal heritage designation was granted. The significant trees on the site have also been identified on the Delta Heritage Register.
Source: Corporation of Delta, McKee House 2004