On Friday, March 20, Ottawa’s own, Claude Bennett slipped away at the Ottawa Heart Institute. Born September 19, 1936, he was 83. He attended the High School of Commerce and was a well-known insurance agent here in Ottawa. First elected as the Capital Ward Alderman in 1960, he was also the city controller for Ottawa from 1961 to 1969, and served as Acting Mayor from 1970-71.
Claude went on to serve in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1971 to 1987 and served in the governments of Bill Davis and Frank Miller as a cabinet minister. He represented residents in the riding of Ottawa South.
Claude loved to meet people and everyone loved meeting him. He was re-known for retaining the names of everyone, right down to the family members. He could work a crowd like no other and always took the time to engage in conversation.
Claude was a man of fitness and regularly walked his neighbourhood up until the day previous to his passing. That evening he was speaking with his daughter on the telephone when he experienced a cardiac event and was quickly rushed to hospital.
He leaves behind his son Winston and daughter Natalie. His beloved wife Deborah had passed away previously.
In addition to his career in public office, Claude was involved in a great number of sporting, volunteer and charity causes throughout his life. In November 2019, Claude Bennett was inducted into the Order of Ottawa and the citation for his many contributions to our city declared:
“Claude Bennett greatly contributed to the growth and prosperity of the City of Ottawa for five decades, serving his community in municipal and provincial political positions. He was elected to Ottawa City Council as Alderman for Capital Ward from 1961 to 1969, elected city-wide as a Member of Board of Control, and then served as acting Mayor of Ottawa for nine months from 1970 to 1971. Mr. Bennett was elected as Member of Provincial Parliament for Ottawa South from 1971 to 1987, with 14 years in Cabinet as Minister of Tourism & Recreation, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and Minister of Industry and Tourism. In 2000-2001, Mr. Bennett served as Chair of the Ottawa Transition Board, overseeing amalgamation of the National Capital’s twelve municipal governments and five public utilities, as well as the election of the new City Council.
From 1990 to 1995, Mr. Bennett served as Chair of the Board, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. He served as a director of the Royal Canadian Mint from 2007 to 2018, and previously as President, Commonwealth Games Association of Canada, President, Commonwealth Games Foundation and Chair of the Canada Safety Council.
In addition to the political position and public authorities he served, Mr. Bennett was a very active volunteer to many City of Ottawa institutions and charities. He served on the Ottawa Airport Authority Board and was Chairman during the construction of the new Ottawa MacDonald-Cartier International Airport Authority from 2001 to 2003. He was a board member of the Ottawa Heart Institute, the Central Canada Exhibition Association, St. Patrick’s Home, and served as Chair of the Board of Ashbury College.
An avid supporter of sports in Ottawa, Mr. Bennett was an original member of the Boards of the Ottawa Sooners Football Club, the Nepean Canadians Sports Club, and actively worked with long-time friend Howard Darwin to establish the Ottawa 67s and the Ottawa Lynx franchises. Mr. Bennett was President of the Ottawa Sooners for many years, and served as Chair of the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame.”
Funeral service arrangements will be announced at a later date. In the interim, the Bennett Family is requesting privacy during this time of bereavement.
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