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Norman was born on Berneray in about 1791, the son of Angus MacAskill and Effie MacLeod. He married Christina Campbell, also of Berneray, with whom he had at least ten children.
Norman and his family lived in the Siabaidh area of Borve, where their first six children were born. Sometime after 1826 the family moved to Quidinish before emigrating to Cape Breton in 1831. They made their home in Englishtown, St Ann’s Bay, where they had a further four children.
One of their sons, Angus, began to grow rapidly by the age of twelve, becoming known as Gille Mòr. His father had to alter the house to provide headroom, including the construction of an eight foot long bed. Angus Mòr eventually became the strongest man in the world.