At the turn of the 20th century, Ernie worked a 200 acre farm that was a colonization land grant of his father George Norton. This property was at what is now, the corner of Hanes road and Golf Course road.
As an industrious and forward thinking person, Ernie in 1925, purchased from Frank Eastly, the lands bordering the north end of Lake Waseosa. The property extended from what is now 640 N.Waseosa lake road to 59 Cottage Lane. That is about 95% of the north shore and extended up Ripple lake and into Palette Lake. The site at 686 N. Waseosa, now Bill Norton's home, was used previously by Mr. Eastly as a saw mill, harvesting timber from the local area. The entire tract of land was purchased for two pigs and an old Chevrolet car.
At that time there was a small mountain of sawdust on the property left over from the mill days as well as a couple of out-buildings.
Over the next year, 1926, Ernie began removing the sawdust pile, which took him a number of seasons, and modified one of the outbuildings into a two storey rustic cottage, named "Sunnyside". A friend seeing what was completed asked if he could rent out the cottage for the summer. And so began "Norton's Housekeeping Cottages".
Ernie then began to build cottages, almostone per year, at prime locations on his property. These were constructed mostly of squared, half round or round logs harvested from his property.
Approximate construction dates were:
1929-"Casa Loma"-----now 708 N.Waseosa Lake Road
1930-"Hollywood"-----now 668 N.Waseosa Lake Road
1931-"Pleasantview"--now 640 N.Waseosa Lake Road
1932-"Belmont"--------now-724 N.Waseosa Lake Road
(a relocated one room log schoolhouse)
1933-"Belvedere"------now 693 N.Waseosa Lake Road
1934-"Wildwood"------now 902 N.Waseosa Lake Road
Ernie was not a person to sit and relax. He also developed, what was termed by a Forester newspaper columnist as, Ontario's first amusement park.
This consisted of ponds and walkway paths along the watercourse between Lake Waseosa and Ripple Lake. The featured children's attractions included;
-slide designed as an elephant trunk into a sand pit.
- a gaily painted mermaid.
- a ferocious alligator sizing up a small boy who is fishing at the pondâ€™s edge.
- a zoo that included owls, rabbits, guinea pigs, a raccoon and black bass that would eat out of your hand.
- there were trees of fantastic shapes, obtained from excursions into the local woods that decorated fountains and a waterwheel and millrace.
- bones of an ancient huge moose that were semi-petrified
- an island in one of the ponds that was the home of "Dangerous Dan McGrew and the Lady named Lou".
As you travel the north end of the lake, you cannot help but notice the giant "Lake Waseosa" sign. This was another creation of Ernie's for the enjoyment of his cottage tenants. The sign is located on the Ball family property who have graciously allowed it's presence on their land. The sign is maintained by Al Norton.
Although Ernie had a small cottage at the site of the "amusement park", now the site of his grand daughter Sandy Carlin's home and deeded to her by Bill Norton, his main residence was in Huntsville. His daily summer routine was to purchase milk at the Huntsville dairy and deliver to the milk boxes for his cottage residents on Waseosa. Others who wished milk delivery around Ripple and Waseosa were handled by Ernie's son Bill. Some of those were Arnold and Beatrice Spearn, Andy Dand and others.
The site of the original sawmill, now 686 N.Waseosa , was maintained by Ernie as a beach and picnic area for anyone who wished to use the area. Many of Huntsville and area people would have access for picnics and swimming. The house at that address was not built until 1968 by Bill Norton.
In 1944 Ernie was finding the maintenance and operation of the complex becoming too much for him and his wife. After Bill Norton returned from the second world war, he assumed responsibility of operating the cottages.
Take note that at that time surveying of lots was not necessarily completed. As Bill Norton explains, lot lines were identified by natural structures i.e. large white birch tree or rock out crop etc. Surprisingly when Bill Norton did complete a survey in the 60's, there was very little argument over what had been previously described as lot-lines.
As the years rolled by, original properties have changed ownership of theâ€ Norton Cottages.
-"Pleasantview” 640 N.Waseosa
-Sold to George Harris
-Richard Harris Purchase from his father
-Richard sells to the present owners, Jessica and Mark Ruan
-"Hollywood” 668 N Waseosa
-sold to Frank McNeill
-Joan Martin Inherits from parents and is the present owner
-"Wildwood" 902 N.Waseosa
-sold to H.H. (Hap) Wright, he demolished the frame cottage and built the existing home
-sold to â€“Joe Atwell
-sold to Sue and Jim Christie
-"Belvedere” 693 N.Waseosa
-sold to Bill and Bea Little
-Laura Â Little present owner
-"Redwood" 682 N.Waseosa.
-1960-built by Bill Norton who operates as a rental property
-"Sunnyside" 684 N.Waseosa
-Deeded to son Eric Norton by Bill Norton
-Original cottage demolished and existing cottage built
-operated as a rental property
-Casa Loma" 708 N.Waseosa
-deeded to son Al Norton by Bill Norton
-demolished original cottage and built existing home
-"Belmont" 724 N.Waseosa
-deeded to son Glen Norton by Bill Norton
-the original log schoolhouse is still part of the building with additional improvements
-operated as a rental property?
Ernie Norton passed away in 1967 but left so many memories for those children who were able to see his "amusement park" and those adults who enjoyed the lake by renting one of Ernie's cottages.