Letter of engagement
Archibald J Gordon and Esther Williams, both from Liverpool, England, were married in 1924 in London, Ontario, Canada. Their second daughter, Shirley Esther Gordon, was born five years after her sister Jeanne (b 1925) on 14 January 1930 in the middle of a blizzard in Windsor, Ontario. The doctor reached their home on a sleigh. Her birth certificate reads 1929 but (probably because she was born so early in the new year) was entered incorrectly and was never corrected.
In 1939 Mr Gordon was called home to Liverpool, so the family returned to Speke. The war in Europe was a far cry from the tranquility that the children had known sitting on their grandmother’s porch overlooking Niagara Falls.
Shirley worked as a secretary for the Dunlop Company and was soon starring with the BBC orchestra on their radio broadcasts. Known as Canada's queen of song, standing all of 4 foot 11 inches she sang her signature song 'With a Song in my Heart' in a powerful soprano voice.
While Jeanne finished school in Liverpool, Shirley was sent to safety on the Isle of Mann. Upon Shirley's return home, Jeanne was in uniform serving with the Canadian Woman's Army and soon departed to serve at General Montgomery's headquarters in Belgium. Shirley and her sister Jeanne took tap dance and singing lessons from an early age. Shirley was also a roller dancing champion. Both sisters performed for the Armed Services throughout World War II. On Christmas Day Mr and Mrs Gordon were listening to two radio stations as Jeanne age 20 was singing from London and Shirley age 15 was broadcasting in Liverpool!
Following her singing work for the forces Shirley accepted the offer of a resident singing spot at Prestatyn Holiday Camp, followed by a 12 month season at the Beach Ballroom, Aberdeen. She concentrated on club and cabaret work in Yorkshire and the Midlands area for five years. During this time she appeared at theatres and on 'Workers Playtime' broadcasts. Miss Gordon’s talents secured her a place on the 1962 Merseyside Clubs Command Performance. She was awarded the honor of the Liverpool Artist of the year. The Mersey Beat rated her "a decided asset to the Liverpool scene".
In 1968 Miss Gordon, who fought diabetes, suffered a debilitating stroke which left her paralyzed and abruptly ended the singing career that she loved. She became active in the local Harris Club for handicapped people and enjoyed travels with Hosanna House. In 2003 her health steadily declined and her battle against diabetes finally took her life 2 years later. She died age 75 in the Royal Liverpool Hospital on 22 January 2005. Miss Gordon never married. Her fiancé Ron was killed while serving with the Royal Air Force in Africa.