Norman Bennett (1865-1920)

Norman Ezra Bennett was born 16 October 1865 in North Orillia Twp, Simcoe County, Ontario. He was the son of Heamon Hinkston Bennett and Harriet Amelia Broomhead. Heamon Bennett was born in Vermont, USA; however, it is not known what date he arrived in Orillia Twp.

Heamon was widowed by 1883 as that year, Mary Ann (Bigelow) Palmer came to keep house for him. Mary Ann was from Cavan Twp, Durham County and had just been widowed. Several of her children, two of whom were still under the age of eighteen, came with her and it seems that the Bennett and Palmer families forged an immediate bond. One of Mary Ann’s sons, Enoch Palmer, had married Phoebe Elizabeth Skinner at Severn Bridge in 1881 and it seems likely that is how Mary Ann learned of the housekeeping position in the Bennett household.

Mary Ann’s youngest daughter, Charlotte Ann Palmer, who was born 25 March 1865, was the same age as Norman Bennett. They fell in love and were married 6 January 1886 in Severn Bridge. Norman worked alongside his father and upon Heamon’s death, took over the family farm.

In 1899, the Bennett farm homestead had a major fire. In rebuilding, Norman and Charlotte decided to start up a resort and made the house and outbuildings large enough to take in tourists. Their farm was located on Peninsula Point on the Severn River just before it widens into Sparrow Lake. The resort was named Bennett’s Peninsula Farm Resort and the house was known as Bennett’s Hotel. It was both a working farm and a resort. A wooden bridge over the Severn River adjacent to the farm had been built in 1882 and Norman Bennett became its caretaker until it was replaced with a steel bridge in 1905. The steel bridge was later moved down the river to Hamlet.

Norman Bennett died suddenly on 8 July 1920. His elder son, Heamon, took over running the farm and resort, and was married later that year to Hazel Boyes. The dairy farm operation was discontinued in the early 1940’s. Heamon and Hazel operated Bennett’s Peninsula Farm Resort for 45 years, until 1965 when the property was sold. The land was subsequently subdivided and is now a rural community of many year-round homes.

Source – Anne Bigelow , a distant relative of Normans wife.

Preserving the Past for the Future