Recreating magic

A documentary introduces a new generation of children to beloved Canadian icon Mr. Dressup through ‘The Magic of Make-Believe’

Ernie Coombs as Mr. Dressup, with puppets Casey and Finnegan. Photo: Courtesy CBC Still Photos Collection

Photo Credits:

Documentary Cover Art Credits: Amazon Canada

Vintage Photo Credits: Photos Courtesy of CBC Still Photos Collection

Tickle Trunk Craft Credits: Prime Video Canada


Mr. Dressup taught millions of children across multiple generations how to be kind, create, and use their imaginations for nearly 30 years.

“Having been Mr. Dressup… has probably made me a better person,” “Mr. Dressup” actor Ernie Coombs was quoted in “Mr. Dressup: The Magic of Make-Believe,” a Canadian Amazon Original feature-length documentary that premiered this fall. “I’m a child at heart,” he said. “It’s all doing things I like to do when I was a kid.”

Documentary Cover Art. Photo Credit: Amazon Canada

The film, which shares the untold stories and history of one of Canada’s most cherished legacies, follows the ups and downs of Coombs’s career (which includes 4,000 episodes of “Mr. Dressup”) and his life. Told by Coombs’s long-time collaborator and puppeteer, Casey and Finnegan creator Judith Lawrence—with interviews from other puppeteers, producers, friends, family and viewers—the documentary aims to recreate the magic that Coombs shared through the TV screen.

A household name in children’s television in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the entertainer taught kids how to create anything they could dream up, with whatever was available to them.

In celebration of creativity—which transcended Coombs’s time on TV and remained in the memories of those who grew up with the show—and the documentary, Prime Video Canada shared the instructions for a simple craft.



Make your own mini tickle trunk 

By Prime Video Canada

What you’ll need: 

  1. Shoebox 
  2. Construction paper
  3. Crafting glue 
  4. Craft paint
  5. Paintbrush
  6. Pen/pencil 
  7. Scissors


  1. Grab an old shoebox from your closet and a few crafting materials.
  2. Paint the shoebox using your paint and a paintbrush. Cover the outside and inside of the shoe box.
  3. With your pen/pencil, draw various shapes and flowers on your construction paper and use your scissors to cut them out. 
  4. Once the paint is dry, glue your shapes and flowers all over your shoebox.
  5. Optional: Paint any additional designs on your box.
  6. Wait for the paint and glue to finish drying, and fill your mini tickle trunk with all your favourite things!


About “Mr. Dressup”

  • Between 1964 and 1967, CBC Television broadcasted “Butternut Square,” a Canadian children’s TV program that starred Ernie Coombs as Mr. Dressup alongside the characters, Casey and Finnegan.
  • After “Butternut Square” was cancelled, Coombs hosted his own popular spinoff show, “Mr. Dressup,” which featured appearances from the beloved puppets Casey and Finnegan.
  • 4,000 episodes of “Mr. Dressup” were produced and aired on the CBC. The show was in production for 29 years (1967 to 1996) and ran for nearly a decade in syndication.
  • Coombs toured his hour-long live show for 20 years to toddlers, and then meet-and-greets with university students.
  • “Mr. Dressup” won the first Actra Award for Children’s TV in 1978.
  • In 1996, Coombs was named a Member of the Order of Canada.
  • Coombs received a Gemini for Lifetime Achievement and was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2019.
  • The series writers were honoured with a Gemini for Lifetime Achievement for work across 29 years.
  • “Mr. Dressup” was voted Canada’s Favourite TV Thing, beating competition that included “Kids in the Hall,” “The Friendly Giant” and “The Littlest Hobo.”



“We had a beer together once, and I opened the beers and I had the bottle caps, and I was looking to throw them away, and he took them and said ‘No, no, save those for crafts,’ and he put them in his pocket.”

— Kevin Hearn, The Barenaked Ladies



“I always loved the way he would put on a hat, and he would just become someone new, that was so cool to me. As a kid before I considered acting a hobby, let alone a vocation—just putting on that hat allowed you to open your heart and your soul to other experiences.”

— Michael J. Fox, actor



“With imagination, we can do anything. When one develops their imagination, they become equipped with a tool of infinite power for infinite situations – and it costs nothing. I’m hoping we can all imagine a kinder, more communal and more resourceful world because that’s what the Mr. Dressup show strived for and showed us was possible.” 

Rob McCallum, director, “Mr. Dressup: The Magic of Make-Believe”