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Profile 2 - Bruce Downey

By Doug Bowie with photography by Kristen Ritchie

Gene O'ReillyReaders of a certain age will remember the Andy Griffith Show and its evocation of a gentler, rose-coloured time in the fictional town of Mayberry, where neighbours helped neighbours and young boys were polite to their elders. Now a youthful 66, Bruce Downey clearly feels a close connection to his childhood. When he talks about it fondly, it takes on an almost Mayberryish hue.

But there were hard times as well. Bruce is the third oldest of seven children of Doug and Vivian Downey. The family lived in a duplex on Earl Street, and when Doug contracted TB and had to spend over a year in the sanatorium, Vivian rented the family bedrooms to Queen’s students, and Bruce and three siblings slept with her in the dining room “head to foot in one bed.” But remembers Bruce, “she made it a warm and wonderful time, given the circumstances.” After his father recovered, the family moved to a larger house nearby “where I got to share a bedroom with one brother instead of four.”

Bruce has particularly fond memories of his boyhood summers. “The day school let out, I’d be sent to Darling’s barber shop to get the shortest possible brush cut, and then my brothers and I would be taken to various family farms in the Ivanhoe area. I loved it.. . .

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