Blog: “For Best Service”: John Lissee’s Appliances on Ossington

Once the dispensary was removed, the sign for John Lissee’s appliance shop was revealed. Image: C.Ryan, September 2018.

Kathleen and I recently took a quick vacation to Toronto (as well as Hamilton and locations across Manitoulin Island) and while walking around, noticed this well-preserved and recently-revealed sign on one of the empty commercial properties along Ossington Avenue. 

I’ll admit that I’m pretty annoying in these cases: although we walk all over the place, I’m always stopping to take pictures. For me, it’s the signs that really make me take notice, whether they are for businesses still operating or for those long gone. Toronto’s small business owners often seem to like to keep the old sign up even if the business is long gone. I have not gone for a full exploration below, so the following just comes from a brief search.

John Lissee and his wife Millie purchased the property from Abraham Weiser in November 1947,1Plan 1201, Lot H, Page 2 but did not move in until some time in 1949. At that point in time, the ground floor retail was occupied by Marcil’s Baby Carriage Shop.21949 Toronto City Directory (Toronto: Might’s Directories Limited, 1949): 394. In the 1951 Might’s directory, the name of the shop had changed to Lessee’s Baby Carriage Shop,31951 Toronto City Directory (Might’s Directories Limited, 1951): 332., and in the following year, Lessee’s Home Appliances had made its debut.41952 Toronto City Directory (Toronto: Might’s Directories Limited, 1952): 350.

Image: Google Maps

It appears that Lissee remained in the home appliance business until 1976, when he and his wife transferred the property to Rosa and Filomena Dinardo.5Plan 1201, Lot H, Page 3. 

Notes   [ + ]

1. Plan 1201, Lot H, Page 2
2. 1949 Toronto City Directory (Toronto: Might’s Directories Limited, 1949): 394.
3. 1951 Toronto City Directory (Might’s Directories Limited, 1951): 332.
4. 1952 Toronto City Directory (Toronto: Might’s Directories Limited, 1952): 350.
5. Plan 1201, Lot H, Page 3.


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  1. Anni Lissee

    Hello, I am the daughter of John Lissee and I must make a few corrections to your history of my dad’s store. Unfortunately, Millie was his second wife whom he married in 1965 or 66)?). His first wife was Janet. John had two daughters, Lillian and Anni who occupied the second floor and the third floor was rented out. Eventually, we occupied the entire building. We had fabulous neighbours on both sides….on the south side was a sign painting company whom hand painted signs on the sides of vehicles which my dad had done to his red GMC pick up truck. On the north side was Steve’s Tailoring, an expert tailor and good friend. My dad delivered and serviced all the appliances he sold and retired at the age of 76 to Mississauga with his wife Millie. John passed in July 1983 at the age of 83.

    • Chris

      Hi Anni,

      Thank-you so much for sharing and for correcting me where I was off on the facts!


      • Anni Lissee

        Hi Chris – No problem and I am most happy to see my dad’s store in your blog.

        There has always been a few places in and around the block that are most interesting and need to have some light shed on them.

        1. Mulvany’s (?) Tonic – at the end of the block (Ossington & Halton St) was a business that made this tonic on the premises, in the back. It’s primary use was for tapeworms. In the store window there would be shelves upon shelves or glass jars and bell jars with tapeworms in a clear liquid, each container would have a placard detailing you the size/length of tapeworm, the age of the person and where it was found. Mulvany owned numerous buildings on the block as well. Locals and visitors would stop look in the window. Amazing store.

        2. Around the corner on Halton Street is a huge restate (red/brown stone) that faces Givins Street. At one time it was owned by one family. There was a carriage/coach house in the back where a family lived who maintained the grounds and the huge house. When you drove up the driveway, you would pass over a bar that would automatically open the gate for you to continue onto the grounds. The older son of the couple that lived in the coach house would play the bag pipes in the summer and I could hear him play from 213 Ossington Avenue. It was beautiful.

      • Anni Lissee

        oops apologies Chris……re my last email to you. both 1 & 2 – what has happened to Mulvaney and 2) who owned this gorgeous estate….and why was it there…seems out of place in the neighbourhood.

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