150+ Canadians Day 13: Ernie Coombs

Ernie Coombs (aka“Mr. Dressup”) contributed to peace by teaching generations how to be humble, considerate and peaceful.#Canada150

Mr. Dressup, his Tickle Trunk of costumes and his puppets Casey and Finnegan, provided quality television for children from 1967 to 1996. In over 4000 episodes, he drew pictures and created simple crafts from construction paper, yarn and glue. His show was gentle, wholesome programming that encouraged creativity and imagination.

Ernie Coombs was lured to Canada in 1963 by the progressive ideas of the public broadcasting system, beginning his career as an assistant puppeteer on a CBC series that featured another soon-to-be-legendary kid’s entertainer, Fred Rogers. He became a Canadian citizen in 1994.

Coombs received the Earle Grey Award for excellence in TV in 1994, a Gemini award for best performance in a children’s program, and the Order of Canada in 1996.  He retired from Mr. Dressup in 1996 after which he performed charity work, appeared in theatrical productions for children and made personal appearances around the country for all his fans, young and old.  Judith Lawrence, the puppeteer who created Casey, chose to make the character gender neutral so that it would appeal to both girls and boys.

“Keep your crayons sharp, your sticky tape untangled, and always put the tops back on your markers.”      

– Mr. Dressup