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Dreams come true

In Toronto, there was a housing shortage after the Second World War; a young couple looking for a place to live faced stiff competition, especially if they had a child. The February 7 1946 edition of the Toronto Daily Star had a photo and an article about a young family that had won out over 1600 other applicants to land a place to live in the Balmy Beach district of Toronto.

I looked Bill Bessey up in the Toronto city directories. The 1946 directory listed him as living at 127 Lawrence Avenue West with his father, Norman. The 1947 directory lists him at his new home, 2158A Queen East. The apartment was above Queen Radio and Refrigeration Limited, whose proprietor was David G. Harcourt, the landlord pictured in this photo.

Bessey and his family remained at 2158A Queen East for about five years: he is listed in the 1951 directory, but not the 1952 directory. Presumably, his announcer duties moved him somewhere outside of Toronto.

Bessey remained a CBC staff announcer into the 1960s. At one time, he hosted a Saturday morning country music television show, Cousin Bill. This was despite his only ever having been on a ranch once in his life, when filming the intro for his show. References to Bessey and Cousin Bill can be found here, here, and here, among others.

The building that contains 2158A Queen East still stands. By 1956, Queen Radio and Refrigeration had moved from 2158 Queen East to 1576 and 1580 Kingston Road in Scarborough, between Warden and Birchmount in the Birchcliff neighbourhood. The company was still at 1580 Kingston Road in 1961 as Queen Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, with D. G. Harcourt still as its proprietor; I didn’t trace it or him after that.

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