Today if you visit the Google Canada homepage you will be greeted by the friendly face of Mr. Dressup Ernie Coombs. Ernest Coombs was born in Lewiston, Maine, and pursued a career in children’s entertainment after attending North Yarmouth Academy in Yarmouth, Maine. He was an understudy to Fred Rogers. He travelled to Canada in 1963 to work for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on an early version of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
“You can almost ask any kid of the 80’s who Mr Dressup was, and they will know that it was Ernie Coombs. Today Google showcased the 85th Birthday Google doodle for Mr Dressup Ernie Coombs on the Canadian Google Search Engine Homepage”
Rogers moved back to the United States 3 years later, but Ernie Coombs decided to stay in Canada, joining a new show called Butternut Square. Butternut Square ran from 1964 to 1967. During the run, Ernie Coombs appeared as the character in a stage show at the Poor Alex Theatre.
After Butternut Square ended, Coombs developed Mr. Dressup, which became one of English Canada’s longest-running and most beloved children’s programs. As Mr. Dressup, he presented arts and crafts, songs, stories and games for children with his friends Casey and Finnegan, a child and a dog who lived in a treehouse in Mr. Dressup’s back yard. Casey wasn’t given a unisex name intentionally, but it was a serendipitous choice because the character’s childlike voice left Casey’s gender ambiguous. Over the years, when viewers would ask Coombs whether Casey was a boy or a girl, he would ask, “What do you think?” However the questioner responded, he would say, “You’re right!”