Regimental Number: R178755
Earl, born on September 5, 1913 in Minnesota, USA, had four brothers; Fred, Ralph, Ed and Clyde and six sisters; Laura, Ruby, Olive, Shirley, Stella and Grace. His parents, Jerome and Lillie, had left Minnesota and arrived in Bezanson in March 1918. They stayed with Lillie’s parents, Peter and Sophia Robideau, for the summer while they built a log home on their homestead (SW 14-72-3-W6). The house had a sod roof and the family used coal-oil lamps for light. In 1927, a new two-story frame house was built. Earl and his siblings all attended the Lindsay School. From 1929 – 42, he worked on the family farm and also worked as a mechanic and carpenter. He enjoyed all sports but was especially interested in wrestling and boxing.
On July 30, 1942, Earl enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force. He received training at Edmonton, Vancouver, Dawson Creek and Grande Prairie. While stationed in Edmonton, he married Mary Smashnuk on November 21, 1942. Corporal Earl Jerome Norton served in Canada and received the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal. He was honourably released on March 2, 1946 and transferred to the Reserves.
Once discharged, Earl returned home and worked for contractors and on his own, building houses in Grande Prairie from 1946 to 1955. In 1955, Earl and his brother Clyde formed a company, Norton Bros. Lumber Company Ltd. They acquired Ralph Norton’s timber berth and built a new mill near the old site that had been destroyed by fire. They operated at that location until 1960 when they moved south of Crooked Creek with a new steel mill that had been fabricated by Steel Industries. They operated at Crooked Creek until 1966 and then moved south of the Goodwin Corner. In 1973, they sold their lease and camp to Canfor; however, they continued to operate their caterpillars working for oil companies and logging companies until 1978 when they sold all the inventory and retired. The Company dry piled and planed in the summer and supplied three lumber yards with their product; Frontier, Monarch and Hoffman-Johnson as well as local farmers.
Mary and Earl had one child a daughter Marylyn. Being very community-minded, Norton Bros. Lumber Company Ltd. sponsored the Bezanson men’s fastball team that was known simply as Norton Bros. from 1964 to 1974.
Mary passed away in 2006 and Earl on December 20, 2014. Both are buried in the Glen Leslie Cemetery.
Contributed by Wanda Zenner
Smoky River to Grande Prairie