The Eymas

From Big Hill Country

Not only Queen Juliana enjoys a visit to the Eymas but so do people in all walks of life. 

The Eymas, who now live on the Chinook Ranch, are very pleased with their home and surroundings but are a bit sorry they did not continue to call their ranch the “Robber’s Roost” as it was called in earlier days. Pierre realizes he did not know the history of the place when he came or he would have done just that. 

Pierre was born in Leerdam, Holland, in 1905. In 1924, after attending College in Holland, he came to Canada on a C.P.R. ship, the S.S. Melita. He was one of the first Hollanders to immigrate to Canada. 

He went to Quilchena on Nicola Lake, in British Columbia, to learn about fur farming. Later he came back to Calgary and started the Chinook Silver Fox Farm on land adjoining Harry Hays’ farm, just south of the old polo grounds. He imported silver fox breeding stock from Prince Edward Island for $2,000 a pair. 

When Pierre first came to Calgary he was anxious to meet young people. The streetcar that used to come out to the loop at Kingsland on Macleod Trail, stopped quite a distance from any house. He thought maybe it would be a good idea to get in his Model T and give some of the girls that got off a ride. He drove up to the loop and sure enough, a lovely blonde girl got off just loaded with parcels. She accepted his kindness and he drove her home, doing his damndest to get a date but with no luck. One day he was asked by a neighbouring fox farmer, Henri Andersen, to give him a hand. Pierre was asked for dinner, and to come in and meet the wife. When Pierre was introduced to Henri’s wife, Nini, the girl he had driven home, all he could say was, “Mrs.!” 

In 1932 Pierre came to Cochrane and bought a quarter section of land for the exorbitant price of $5.50 an acre from Jim Baptie of Exshaw. The going price for the land was $2.50 to $3.00 an acre. The cabin on the land had been called “Robber’s Roost” and the place was referred to as the Old Mill. Apparently, Tom Quigley had had a sawmill on the property and after that, it became a haven where single men, with no fixed abode, made their home in between jobs, which, in the 1930s, were hard to find. The story has been told about one cowboy riding in hoping to get a good dinner on his way to the Dog Pound Stampede. Seeing a clean shirt on the line, he decided he was no longer hungry, exchanged his dirty shirt for the clean, and rode on. People say the boys staying there would give you the shirt off their back but sometimes it was your own shirt. 

Pierre decided to come and live at Cochrane so he built himself a four-wheeled trailer to pull behind his Chev roadster. He moved seventy foxes, all his pens and equipment to Cochrane, a distance of fifty miles, making 52 trips in all. No easy task when it rained, as the Cochrane Hill had not been hard-surfaced and sometimes the ruts crisscrossed on the hill were a foot deep. 

On his very first trip, Pierre met a rider who, in a very quiet voice, while chewing his moustache, introduced himself as D. P. Mc Donald. After the usual salutations, D. P. wished him well but warned him whatever he did to watch a certain Dave McDougall. Half an hour later a second rider came galloping up the road and, in a voice that was anything but quiet, introduced himself as Dave McDougall. Before he left he reminded Pierre to be sure and watch that D. P. McDonald. Pierre found himself in the middle between the Hatfields and the McCoys. 

One time Henri Andersen came with Pierre and was so taken up with the country that he went back to Calgary and brought his friend Peter Hansen out. Later Henri and Peter bought land in the next valley. Pierre considers that he is to blame for the Danish Invasion in Beaupré. 

The original Robber’s Roost, although not exactly level, had been well built and the doorstep was a cut round from a huge log which served the purpose very well. Lying on the doorstep were five rods with Roman numerals on them that puzzled Pierre for days. Finally, he asked a friend what they were for. When told they were survey pins and you could be heavily fined for having them in your possession, Pierre soon decided to move them somewhere else. Later he quietly watched a neighbour move one of his survey pins out of the proper hole. After the coast was clear, Pierre put the pin back where it belonged. This fellow never did find out how he lost the land he was figuring to gain. 

His biggest problem when he first came to this district was keeping the neighbour’s cattle and horses out of his field. One lady not only used his corrals to corral her horses without asking but told him off because they were not in good repair. 

One day in desperation Pierre decided to go to Delbeke and tell him in no uncertain terms to keep his cattle in his own field. Pierre changed his mind when he got to Delbekes and claims he got even with him because Marie Delbeke, the oldest daughter, is now Pierre’s wife. 

Pierre and Marie were married in 1935. They have three children, Anita, Jay and Clay. Anita married Newt Kessler. They have four children and live in Houston, Texas. Jay married Lynne Smith. They have four children and live in Jackass Canyon in the home place. Clay finishes school and helps his parents on the ranch. 

In 1939 just before World War II was declared, Pierre took his wife and two children, Anita and Jay, aged three and two, back to Holland for a holiday and to meet his parents. Their return tickets were booked for passage on the Duchess of Bedford. The Duchess of Bedford was not able to leave port so her passengers were given a first place on the Athenia. The Eymas, desperate to get back to Canada due to the unrest in Europe, was given the last cabin on the Empress of Australia. The Athenia was torpedoed off the coast of Ireland with the loss of most of her passengers. World War II was declared the day the Eymas arrived in Montreal. 

Soon after Pierre came to Cochrane he added to his fur-bearing animals by buying platinum foxes and platinum mink. He takes great pride in his show rabbits, pigeons, chickens and guinea pigs and has been engaged in this endeavour since 1913, as an eight-year-old in Holland. His family is very proud, and justifiably so, of the over 1,000 ribbons and trophies he has won over the years. 

The walls in Eymas’ trophy room are covered with hunting trophies and different collections of interest. They have over 60 sets of horns in their place. One thing in the trophy room that is really fascinating is Pierre’s Hans Brinker skates. When he first came to Calgary in 1924 he decided he would join a skating party on Elbow Drive. He quickly strapped on his skates and went skating across the ice. Everyone wondered what the heck because they could not see his skates.

The Eymas now have a new home, and their prize birds have taken over the original Robber’s Roost, which has been enlarged several times during the years. 

Pierre and Marie have been kept busy but have had time to fulfill their interest in community life. Pierre was president of the Ghost River Pony Club for ten years. He was a school trustee for Beaupré Creek School until it closed in 1962, was instrumental in getting the Beaupré Community Association started, and was president of the Association for five years. 

The Eymas have not been fur farming for several years. They raised thoroughbred horses and dairy cattle. The only drawback with the property was the road and gate problem. At first, there were seven gates to open from the main road to their home, a distance of about five miles. Dirt roads were seldom fit for travel by car in the spring or winter, so they left their car at the Hollowood Store and would drive a team and wagon and leave them there while they went to Calgary and back in the car. The team is tied up for hours at the fence resulted in many a runaway with feed and groceries scattered along the trail. 

One of the highlights of their life was the visit of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, in 1967, accompanied by the Ambassadors and Consuls and their wives, from both Canada and Holland. 

The security precautions before and during the visit were most impressive. At one point when the Queen was leaving, one of the detectives spotted a movement in the trees and whipped out his gun. Pierre almost lost one of his best bulls. 

The Dutch Princesses, Queen Juliana’s daughters, attended Pierre’s uncle’s (Kees Boeke) private school in Holland. 

When Queen Juliana was shown through the trophy room she showed an amazing knowledge of hunting and wildlife. 

QUEEN JULIANA'S VISIT (1967) - by Clay Eyma 


The visit of Queen Juliana begins like this. One cold, snowy day in March, the Dutch Consuls from Edmonton and Calgary came to visit us. On April 30, they came again and were joined by His Excellency, the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Canada. 

May 12, the Consuls from Edmonton and Calgary called again and informed us that Queen Juliana would visit us May 22, at 2:15 p.m. for fifty minutes. We could not tell a soul as it was top security. 

Mom immediately started to clean the house and do some fancy cooking. Mom also got out her lace tablecloth and china for the big occasion. Dad tidied up the place outside. I cleaned my bedroom. 

May 18, twenty security men, including R.C.M.P. detectives and army officials, arrived to see where to park and where they would be

pictures of the place and who had an interview with Dad. These pictures were shown in Holland the following day. On May 21, four more television men came out to take pictures of the scenery. It was quite an experience to see how plans are made for dignitaries. 

We were informed by the Edmonton Consul that Queen Juliana’s flight would be late and she would arrive at 3.15 p.m. instead of 2.15 p.m. First, the R.C.M.P. police car came up the road. They went up past our house and later came down the road again. A little later a car arrived, stopped by the corral and the men started setting up their cameras. Within minutes a second car stopped at the same place and the men put their cameras up. About ten minutes later we saw a bus coming. When the bus drove up, about thirty reporters and more television men jumped out. By this time we felt that we were invaded. 

About fifteen minutes later two R.C.M.P. Police cars followed by a cavalcade of seven cars came up the road. A small white car drove up to our gate on the walk. The door opened and before anyone could assist her, out stepped Queen Juliana.

Her Majesty’s hair was almost golden in colour. She wore a blue dress with black shoes, a hat and a purse. Her Majesty was introduced to the family while cameramen were pushing and shoving everyone around. Finally, we managed to get into the house. 

After talking a few minutes, the Queen was asked to see the den. In the den, she looked at the deer heads, moose horns, coyote, bear, badger, goat and muskrat hides, and many different varieties of birds. 

While the Queen was in the den, the table was set up and when the Queen came back, coffee was served. We had moose meat sandwiches among other varieties of sandwiches and the Queen chose to eat four moose sandwiches. 

The Queen was to stay fifty minutes but stayed an hour and a half. The cameramen wanted to take pictures inside and asked her permission. Her Majesty said, “Certainly not. You’re not going to spoil my visit when I am enjoying myself.” That sure made the cameramen keep quiet for a while. 

We served coffee and tea to sixteen people who included the Lady-in-Waiting, the Canadian Ambassador to Holland, the Dutch Ambassador to Canada and their wives. There was also an “Equerry” which is a sort of General. He was dressed in a Dutch uniform which was navy blue with a gold braid, and a matching cap. Altogether there were about fifty people including the press and cameramen who were being served lunch outside. 

Her Majesty had to leave as she had another stop and an engagement in Calgary at seven-thirty p.m. The Queen was very charming. Before she left, she asked if she could take greetings to anyone in Holland. Dad replied by asking her to say hello to everyone in Holland for him. 

We were very sorry to see her go so quickly. My father’s uncle was a teacher to the princesses, Her Majesty’s daughters, and several of the Royal Party were acquainted with his relatives in Holland. There were three families picked out of one hundred families, the Lublinkhofs, DeWitts and ourselves. 

NOTE: Written in 1967, the year of the Royal Visit, when Clay was thirteen years of age.

Talk about Traditions! Meet the Edge Family

by Gordon and Belle Hall

Norman Frank Edge was born in the Brushy Ridge district, one of a family of eight – six boys and two girls. In the year that Norman was born, his father Wm. H. Edge was showing Clydesdale horses at the Territorial Spring Show in Calgary and won with a Clyde stallion named Redburn. N.F. grew up with ranching and grew to love horses. He was raking hay for his father when he was eight years old. 

1983 Canadian Pro Rodeo Inductee Norman Frank Edge

As teenagers, Norman and brother Ollie joined other boys in the district to develop their skills riding at the local stampedes. During the winters of 1925-26, Norman broke polo ponies and remounts for D.P. MacDonald at the Mount Royal Ranch. In 1922 and 1923, Norman and Ollie took in the Jumping Pound stampedes as well as other rodeos. The lure of the big o took them to Calgary in 1924. In 1925 Norman got lucky and won the brahma steer riding and bareback bronc riding events. In 1925 Norman went to the west coast with the Peter Welsh Stampede Co. In 1927 N.F. won the steer riding event again. In 1928 he won the bareback bronc riding and gained permanent possession of a sterling silver trophy donated by Calgary Brewing and Malting Co. 

In 1929 a team consisting of Johnny Munro, Ollie Edge and Norman won the wild horse race in Calgary. In the years from 1923 to 1937, when Norman Edge retired, he had competed in rodeos at Jumping Pound, Calgary, Montreal, Columbus, Ohio, Sundre, Hand Hills, Toronto, Pendleton, Oregon, White City Stadium in London, England, Winnipeg, New Westminister, Vancouver, Medicine Hat, Ottawa, Buffalo, New York, Chicago and many others. Rodeo promoters of the day included Guy Weadick, Tex Austin and Peter Welsh. 

Norman was present in 1925 at New Westminister when Bara Lad, trained by my father Syd Hall and owned by Peter Welsh jumped 8 feet 172 inches to a new high jump record. In 1940 Norman and Claudia Lynn were married. Claudia was the second of six children and was born near Suffield Alberta. Claudia Edge has a noted teaching career, teaching at Jumping Pound, Springbank and Cochrane junior-senior high and was a very talented and respected teacher. Claudia and Norman have three sons: Garth, Barry and Lynn. 

During the 1974 Calgary Stampede, Norman, together with Eddie Watrin and Pete Vandermeer was honoured as old-time cowboys. Each was presented with a framed picture and Silver cufflinks. The inscription reads: “Norman Edge in appreciation for your contribution to rodeo, Calgary Exhibition and Stampede 1974.” Norman and Claudia are both retired now and spend their winters in Arizona. Truly good friends and a fine couple to all.

From A Peep into the Past, A Collection of Historic Poems and Short Stories by Gordon and Belle Hall Vol. II

Cochrane $20 Dollar Specimen featuring Norman Frank Edge

Norman Edge was inducted into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1983

Norman Frank Edge Obituary Calgary Herald Mar 31 1996

Copithorne, a true Alberta builder

by Belle and Allan Hall

Clarence Copithorne was the youngest son of Richard and Sophia Copithorne. Clarence was born in the little brick hospital in Cochrane on Nov. 12, 1920. He received some education at the Little Jumping Pound School, then attending Olds Agricultural School for three years, graduating with a diploma in agriculture. Clarence’s first public office was that of secretary-treasurer of the Jumping Pound Forestry Grazing Association. 

Clarence, along with Percy and Frank Copithorne, was at the official opening of the Shell plant at Jumping Pound in 1951. The Hon. N.E. Tanner, minister of mines and minerals was in attendance also. Clarence Copithorne was a member of the Masonic Order and the Oddfellows Lodge in Cochrane. In 1946 he married Irene Robertson, eldest daughter of Don and Yvonne Robertson, who were the proprietors of the English Shop in Calgary. The Clarence Copithorne’s had six children. In 1967 Copithorne was asked to run in the forthcoming provincial election. He was elected with a small majority to represent the riding of Banff-Cochrane as an Independent. Clarence took over from F.L. Gainor who had retired. In April 1970 Clarence turned Conservative to run in his second election. Peter Lougheed was premier and when Copithorne was elected for a second term, he was appointed minister of highways. 

Building the Fort Vermilion bridge was one of Clarence’s major projects as highway’s minister. This is the largest, most northerly bridge in North America. It crosses the Mighty Peace River, is nearly 2,000 feet long and is linked with the road from Slave Lake, which Copithorne was also able to complete. In four years his department was successful in paving 14,065 miles of new road in Alberta. Twelve new major bridges were built in the province, graded 2,000 miles of new road, oiled 4,000 and gravelled 2,400 miles. 

Clarence was largely responsible for the forming of the Cochrane Ranche Park as a historic site. Copithorne’s health had failed and was flown by helicopter to the opening of the park. He passed away a while after the park had been opened. 

Cattle drive on the Copithorne Ranch - Flickr

from A Peep into the Past Vol. II by Gordon and Belle Hall

Clement and Margaret Edge

by Shirley Edge

Every Sunday one could see a rider heading down the Grand Valley road and, sure enough, it would be Clem Edge going to see his best girl, Peggy Morrison. Clem was a big strapping man who was making his living breaking horses. He was born in Derbyshire, England, on June 6, 1890, and was one of ten children born to Thomas and Mary Ellen Edge (nee Bestwick) who lived in the slate house, “Foufinside”, in Parwich, England. Clem went to school in Parwich. 

When Clem was a young boy in England, he and his brothers would test their courage and have fun racing across the backs of cattle that were in huge pens. The object of the game was to try not to fall down among the milling cattle. 

Clem and an older brother, Sidney (Sid), came to Canada when Clem was just fourteen. They started their life in Canada working for a farmer outside of Winnipeg. The following spring of 1905 they moved out west and Clem worked for the Bow River Horse Ranch breaking horses. Clem’s desire to see the country took him to California where he worked as a farm labourer at San Rafael. In 1908 Clem returned to Canada and took out a homestead, SE14 13-28-6-5, along Dog Pound Creek. Sidney managed to get a homestead, SW14 18-28-5-5, just east of Clem’s and they worked together. These homesteads are now part of the S7 Ranch owned by A. Garfield Stewart. 

On July 29, 1914, Sid’s life was taken when he suffered a heart attack while driving a team and democrat up the Grand Valley road. He was buried in Cochrane. 

Another older brother, William, born in 1880, was in South Africa for a time. He came to Canada to visit Clem and Sid and later settled in Spokane, Washington. He built an apartment block in Spokane; it is still known as the Edge Block. Will met his death when he was shot down on a street in Spokane. 

Clem broke horses for Ozzie and Bill Johnson, and in 1914 he went to work for George Creighton at the Bar C. 

On January 4, 1915, Clem joined the 12th Regiment of the Canadian Mounted Rifles and spent three years Overseas. When he returned from the Army, he worked his homestead, continued breaking and selling horses, and 

resumed his courtship with Peggy Morrison. Clem was a good dancer. He would hitch up the team to the buggy, pick up Peggy and a bunch of the neighbours and head for the Orange Hall to dance to the music of Tom Quigley and Associates. The Morrison and the McEachen girls would take turns renting a room at the Murphy Hotel, so they would have a place to change into their party dresses. 

Clem bought the Boney Thompson place (the Hornbach homestead) at the top of Grand Valley, along with a few cows and horses. At the same time, he purchased more cows and horses and the Bar 50 brand from a neighbour, Billy Bishop. With a place of his own, stocked with cattle, Clem felt he was now in good shape to propose to his girlfriend. Clem and Peggy were married June 14, 1922, in St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Cochrane. Peggy’s sister Mary and her brother John stood up for them. After lunch at the Morrison place with the family and a few of the boys from the Union Bank, they headed to Banff by car for their honeymoon. Peggy was one of the few lucky girls who sported a tiffany-mounted diamond ring. On return from their honeymoon, they gathered up a bunch of their range cows and broke them to milk. Clem continued breaking horses for other people and worked with a road-building gang. 

On March 9, 1924, their daughter, Margaret, was born. Tragedy struck when Margaret died of a heart seizure when she was just nine months old. Georgina Patterson ran two miles up Grand Valley to the Edge home to try and comfort Clem and Peggy. 

In 1926 and 1927 Clem worked as a rodeo judge with the Alberta Stampede Company, owned by Peter Welch, travelling to Toronto, Chicago, Illinois, and Buffalo, New York. He also competed in local bucking contests as a bronc rider.

Their first son, Donald, was born on February 1. 1929. That year Clem and Peggy bought land just north of the 1A highway, S12 21-26-5-5 and 1, 21-26-5-5, from the Burns Foundation Company. It was a good winter in 1929, and Clem and Charlie Pedeprat worked hard to skid enough logs to build a house on this land. Skidding was difficult because there was very little snow. They lived in a tent beside the building site for most of the winter, then Clem started riding home at night. 

Clement Norman arrived on the scene in August 1930, and when Peggy was able to return home from the hospital, they went to live at their new home, on the Bar 50 Ranch. This home was a beautiful log house with a stone fireplace and lots of room. Two extra rounds of logs were put on the house to allow plenty of headroom.

In May of 1932. a daughter, Edith, was born. During the thirties times were tough and life was hard on everyone, but at least in the country, the necessities of life were at hand.  Power bills were of no concern, when it got dark people went to bed. They didn’t worry about lack of coal or an unpaid gas bill; they just headed outdoors and cut more wood. When cows were selling for a mere $10.00 per head they dismissed all thoughts

of income and concentrated on the necessities of life. They milked cows, churned butter, baked bread, killed beef or mutton and grew their own vegetables. A meagre portion of income was realized from the shipments of cream and a solid $2.95 was received for each five-gallon can of cream. Many essential purchases were made possible with the old cream cheque. Clothes were patched and old coats and pants were tenderly turned into patchwork quilts. 

On a cold January 14th, in 1937, a third son, Frank, made his appearance into the Edge family. A few years later Clem and Peggy became second parents to another boy they soon regarded with as much affection and interest as their own. Bobby Orr came from Exshaw to spend several summers with the Edges and soon became a part of the family. He is now married with a family of his own and still comes “home” to visit Peggy at Christmas and on other special occasions. Pictures of Bobby in his childhood, and his graduation from University, hold a spot on the wall among the rest of the family photos. 

Clem had his eye on a Clyde stallion, Stanmore Pride, and traded several horses to Ernie Young from Swalwell, Alberta, for him. Ernie and his daughter Annie (Mrs. Ed. Raby) arrived to gather the horses. Annie was a very capable young girl and because Peggy was having health problems following Frank’s birth, Annie was hired to help with the housework. However, it wasn’t long before she was kept busy outdoors running the Hart-Parr tractor. 

The Edge home was much the same as most other homes in the area, except for one thing.

This was the place where the Beaupré schoolteacher boarded. For the most part, it took quite a hardening-in period, enduring the constant teasing of the Edge boys. Things like finding your horse saddled backwards and serenades like “Goodnight Irene” in the middle of the night led to a long and binding friendship among them all. When Donald first started school he walked a mile across the country to the Beaupré Creek School. Norman rode his pony “Pal” to school and for $2.00 a month he packed a gallon syrup pail of drinking water to the school each day. Eventually, they afforded a water bag which was certainly easier to tote on a saddle horse. Old Pal was long remembered for the many walk, trot and run races he won over the years at the local gymkhanas. Edith and Frank also rode to school. 

There was always lots of repair work to be done around Edges. One day when Jack Stevenson, an Old Country carpenter and cabinet maker, who had built homes for some of the Edges south of the Bow River, was building a set of stairs up to the attic for Peggy, and Donald and Norman were building a roof on the barn, young Frank wandered down to a long cattle shed that had a straw roof. A scattering of straw remained in the feed bunk at one end, and Frank proceeded to build himself a fire in the middle of it. Norman saw there was trouble and came down from the roof of the barn and dragged the unconcerned little Frank out of the shed, and the flames soon engulfed the entire building. The reprimand that followed wasn’t quite so enjoyable. 

Frank also spent a lot of time just sitting on the old ram. The ram was very co-operative; he would stand while Frank climbed aboard, but getting off was another matter. Frank knew the ram would attack with a good bunt when he tried 

Drawing water

to dismount. The rest of the family usually ignored his beck and call – so sit he did! 

During the Second World War, Peggy and a few other women in the area organized the Wildcat Hills Victory Club. Its purpose was to raise money for the Queen’s Canadian Fund. This fund helped to provide cigarettes for our soldiers and milk for the children of Britain. The women would meet once a month to plan fundraising activities and it was the duty of each one to organize and handle one fund-raising event. In October 1941, Peggy chose to have a barn dance in the new barn. The dance was a roaring success. The Wildcat Hills Victory Club, having served its purpose, was dissolved when the War ended. 

During the summers of 1942 to 1945, Donald, 13, and Norman, 12, were hired by Tommy Farell. manager of P. Burns Ranches Limited, to keep tabs on the Burns cattle and check the salt licks in the Burns fields. This land was later purchased by Clem for $7.50 per acre. 

In the fall the boys would help gather and trail 300-odd steers to Cochrane where they were loaded on cattle cars for shipment. Although the Edge boys only helped with this leg of the operation, the fall gathering was indeed a huge one. Cattle were gathered from Burns calf camp at Big Hill Creek and the Rocky Butte on the old George McDonald place and all were loaded out at Cochrane at the same time. Initially, these cattle came from C. K. Ranches, located on what is now known as West Dalhousie in Calgary, and were herded to the various summer camps. 

The Bar 50 was also used as a stopping place for Frank Phillips and his pack string as he moved from Morgan Lewis’s en route to their big game trips down the Elk Valley in British Columbia via the Kananaskis Lakes. For three years starting the fall of 1944, Donald and

Norman spared three weeks to a month’s time from their studies to work for Frank as wranglers and packers on these trips. 

One time, along with Angus and Elmer McDonald, Clem and Norman were cutting the summer supply of ice from the Ghost Dam. Clem slipped and fell on the ice and hollered to the others that he had broken his leg. They all thought he was joking and went on with their work. Further attempts to make them realize he was not just fooling failed, and finally, when he chose a few choice adjectives to describe his problem, they realized that he was in serious trouble. He had, in fact, severely broken his leg. 

When Donald and Norman started high school, their parents drove them to the Cochrane School until Donald got his driver’s license. The boys would pick up Alice Jean Sharpe (Mrs. Harvey King) and drop her off each night. During the War, car parts were hard to get. One winter the transmission went out of the Ford car so Donald and Norman hitch-hiked or rode their saddle horses the nine miles to school. Father Lessard gave them hot soup at noon in return for hauling water and working on the Old Timer newspaper. Father Lessard also taught catechism in the Edge home. Donald finished his education at the Olds School of Agriculture and graduated in 1949. Edith also attended this college and graduated in 1951. Norman turned to rodeo and divided his time between helping his dad on the ranch and travelling to various rodeos, entering the different events. He liked bull riding best and ranked among the top ten bull riders for several years. 

In June 1952, Clem and Peggy decided to drop in on the Austins. They were disappointed when they weren’t asked to stay for tea. Later they learned the reason why, when the Austins were among the many friends who arrived to surprise them with a shower in honour of their 30th Wedding Anniversary. 

The year 1953 was indeed a proud one for Clem and Peggy when Edith became Calgary’s Stampede Queen. She received a scholarship and took a comptometer course and went to work for Socony Mobil Oil of Canada, Ltd. Later she spent three seasons as a camp cook for Brewsters in Banff. 

The first wedding in the family took place in September 1955, when Norman married Shirley Moore of Calgary. The old Liddell (Creighton) place, where Mr. Beaupré and his wife had squatted years before, was to be their new home. They tore down the old Creighton house and used the lumber in their new home. Within the walls, they found a two-by-four with the following inscription: “This house erected for J. G. Creighton by Robert Downey in the year of 1903.” Their ranch is called the Beaupré Creek Ranch and they brand their black white-faced cattle with NE Half Diamond and use Bar 50 for their horse brand.

Only a few families along the lA highway had electricity, so Norman approached Calgary Power and on May 9, 1955, the Beaupré Rural Electrification Association was officially established. It originated with ten members: President, John L. R. McLenahan; Secretary-Treasurer, C. Norman Edge; and Directors: Margaret P. Hess, Bud Ullery, Bob McDougall, J. E. Parsons, Helen McDonald, F. Delbeke, Richard Philp, Henri Andersen and Maurice Johnsen. 

Donald worked for three years with Calgary Power at the Ghost Plant, then he went to Banff to spend the summers working for Claude Brewster as head guide and superintendent. He spent nine winters in Carpenteria, California, working with polo ponies for Pat Linfoot and others. In 1957 Frank spent one season in California working with polo ponies for Mo Lightman. Donald spent that season in Florida. 

In 1955 Frank graduated from St. Mary’s Boys’ School in Calgary. In November 1958, he married Lorraine Brown from Hodgson, Manitoba, who was working as a nursing aide at the Morley Indian Hospital. They live on their High Park Ranch in the Beaupré area and use the Bar 50 and Quarter Circle FJ as their cattle brands and the J Half Diamond as their horse brand. 

While still employed with Claude Brewster, Donald spent three years in the 1960s guiding buffalo hunts in the Northwest Territories. He built two log cabins at Le Grand Detour Point on the Slave River. One hunter, Charlie Stoll, from New York, captured a trophy that was second to the world’s record at that time. Trophy buffalo hunts were inaugurated when Claude received the first permit. Donald was the first licensed guide for buffalo hunts in the N.W.T. Edith, who accompanied him for two seasons, was the first woman to cook on buffalo hunts in the N.W.T. 

After the hunts, Edith returned to the business world and worked for Home Oil Company. She married Quentin Armstrong in October 1965, and they ranch at Nanton, Alberta.

Donald worked as a brand inspector for the Alberta Department of Agriculture at the Calgary Stockyards. He married Dorothy Bryant on March 12, 1966, and they live on the home quarter of the Bar 50 Ranch and run a cow-calf operation with Aberdeen Angus Hereford cross cattle. They use the DM Bar as their cattle brand and DM as their horse brand. Both these brands were registered by Don’s grandfather, Donald Campbell Morrison, in the late 1800s. 

In 1932 Clem lost an eye. A piece of metal flew up and pierced his eyeball when he was repairing the binder, and in 1969 Donald lost the fingers and thumb of his right hand in an accident at harvest time. 

In May of 1966, Clem passed away in the Colonel Belcher Hospital after a lengthy illness. Peggy still resides on the home ranch and is deeply involved in her families’ lives. She was chosen as a pioneer daughter for the year 1975, by the Southern Alberta Pioneers and Their Descendants Association. 

All of the Edges have continued in the ranching industry. Norman continued rodeoing until just recently when he started judging. He has judged rodeos throughout Canada and most of the Western United States. He judged the Expo rodeo in Montreal in 1967 and the first rodeo in the new Madison Square Gardens in New York City in 1968. He was president of the Canadian Rodeo Cowboys’ Association for two years. Both Norman and Donald hold gold cards in this Association. Donald and Frank also do some judging and help at horse shows. Frank is an instructor for boy’s steer riding at the Calgary Stampede Rodeo College. 

The movie industry has also come into the lives of the Edges. Peggy’s log house was used to film a story on the Siberian Snow Tigers. Norman was a technical advisor and a double in “King of the Grizzlies,” a Walt Disney film, and Frank has been a wrangler and special effects man for such movies as “Prime Cut,” “Pioneer Woman,” and “Buffalo Bill and the Indians.” 

Granny, as Peggy is known to everyone, has eleven grandchildren. Norman and Shirley have four children: Duane, Jackie-Lou, Lyle and Marty. Frank and Lorraine also have four children: Terry, Kevin, Bobbi and Brandi. These children are involved in rodeo, and Lyle won the Canadian Junior Calf Roping Championship in 1975. They have all had their hand in the film industry. The Edge children took part in a story about ranch children for the T.V. program “Sesame Street” and it was filmed on the Beaupré Creek Ranch. Lyle also played a part in Walt Disney’s movie, “The Boy Who Talked to Badgers.” Terry, Duane and Kevin recently worked on the “Buffalo Bill and the Indians” movie filmed on the Morley Indian Reservation. Jackie spent last summer working as a camp cook on trail rides out of Banff. Edith and Quentin’s children, Margaret, Clem and Teddy, although still very young, have already been involved in the local horse shows and gymkhanas. 

The tree of life goes on. Old roots give way to new limbs and it is apparent that ranching rodeo, and packing or trail riding in the high country has consistently crept into the lives of the Edges, no matter what the generation. 


Edith Edge – Calgary Stampede Queen 1953

Page 302 Big Hill Country

Edith Edge, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Clem Edge of Cochrane, was sponsored by the Cochrane Light Horse Association in 1953 and became Calgary Stampede Queen that year. 

Raised on the Bar 50 Ranch west of Cochrane, Edith learned to ride at an early age and took part in all ranching activities. She was active in the Cochrane Light Horse Association, The Ghost River Pony Club and rode her horse to school. 

In 1953 Edith was adopted by the Stoney Indian Tribe as an Honorary Princess and given the name of “Princess Good Eagle Girl.” *. In the October 1954 issue of Chatelaine Magazine, Edith was chosen as one of three women to represent Alberta in an article on Women of the Year for each province across Canada. 

In 1955 she competed in the Miss Rodeo of Canada Contest which was held at Ft. Macleod during their annual rodeo. She was runner up to the Miss Rodeo Queen, Connie Ivens, from Cardston, who later married Bob Robinson of the Jumping Pound district, south of Cochrane. 

Edith worked for several years as a comptometer operator for an oil company. She also worked on pack trips and trail rides in the Canadian Rockies and held a Class “A” guide’s license for the National Parks. For two years she accompanied her brother, Donald, as a camp cook on Buffalo Hunts in the Northwest Territories. 

She married Quentin Armstrong, of Nanton, in 1965. They raise cattle and horses on a ranch southwest of Nanton where they live with their three children, Margaret, Clem and Teddy.

Mange and the Cattle Dipping Program

an article from Big Hill Country

At the turn of the century mange in cattle was a serious problem in the eastern and southern parts of the Province where several large ranches were established. Some ranchers would dip their cattle while others would not, consequently mange was always present. So a program of compulsory dipping throughout the whole Province was made law in 1904-06. This plan was instigated by the Federal Government and was to be carried out for two years in succession which would rid the range of mange once and for all. 


Mange never occurred in the area between the Bow and Elbow Rivers but nevertheless, all the cattle had to be dipped. 

A dipping tank was constructed in 1904 to government specifications on the SE 14 12-25-5-5 which at that time had been reserved by the government for its water potential. 

The tank was made of cement. Water was pumped in by hand and heated by a series of pipes which were connected to a boiler of sorts that was heated by a wood fire. 

The first ten feet had about four inches of water in it which was to give the animal a little bit of confidence, then there was a sheer drop where complete immersion took place. 

After swimming a distance of about twenty feet or so, the cattle climbed out on a ramp that was long enough to allow most of the water to drain back into the tank. 

Corrals were built at both ends of the tank to provide holding pens so that a continuous flow of cattle would be going through the tank. 

At times there was trouble when a big old cow would get stuck and had to be hauled out by the cowboys with ropes and horses, or perhaps an ornery two-year-old heifer decided to turn back after getting halfway across. 

The solution this dip was made up of had to be inspected and tested for strength and temperature quite often. This was done by a government man who was there at all times. 

A story prevails that after about a week’s work, on the last day of dipping, the tank sprung a leak (unknown to the inspector) and it was almost impossible to keep enough water in for the cattle to immerse. Being the last day, one of the quick-thinking cowboys decided to hold a party in the inspector’s tent. A couple of bottles of liquor were acquired and that took care of all the government regulations, and the inspector. 

Did you like this story about ranching and cowboys? Here are a couple of earlier articles:

More Big Hill Country

Get your copy of More Big Hill Country. Sorry, Big Hill Country is out of print

Stories of the Seebe Dam and POW Camp

by Grace and Allen LeBel

The Historical Resource Committee of the M.D. of Bighorn has put together a fascinating series of videos that captures the oral history of the Bow Valley west of Cochrane.

In this video Grace and Allen LeBel relate stories of the Seebe dams and the prisoner of war camp at Ozada.

This is just one of the videos in this series. Follow the call to action button at the bottom of this blog to see the rest of the playlist.

Picture of carving from an article in Rocky Mountain Outlook.

LeBel playlist

Please subscribe and like the M.D. of Bighorns YouTube channel

In case you missed it, we have written about Seebe before:

Bearspaw Service Station

page 59 More Big Hill Country

The Post War years brought many changes to Calgary and the surrounding area, which inspired many War veterans to start new businesses. These were the times that brought Cliff Gillespie and Norm Newsome together. They started a small business in the Bearspaw area. In approximately 1946 they purchased a small parcel of land from Nick Hamilton. The land was located on the south side of the 1A highway, approximately

10 miles west of Calgary. On this land, they built a garage large enough to house and repair a milk truck they owned. As time went on Cliff Gillespie, who worked as a mechanic, decided to install gas pumps under the White Rose flag, turning the garage into a repair shop. 

In approximately 1947 Norm Newsome left the business and Cliff Gillespie took on a new partner, Ted Cushing. At this time the business took on a new name, the Bearspaw Service Station and a new Oil and Gas Company, Esso, which it is still today. It quickly became a very busy place with local farmers and residents gathering on a daily basis. It was not uncommon to find as many as a dozen people gathered at the station, especially on rainy days. Many world problems were solved at these times. 

In 1952 the service station became busy enough that Cliff and Ted hired Bob Thomas as their first employee and apprentice. In approximately 1963, Cliff bought Ted out and became the sole owner until 1973 when he sold the business. 

Cliff and Ted both built their personal homes on the land site and raised their families there for many years. The Gillespies were west of the garage, and the Cushings were on the east side of the garage. 

Cliff Gillespie and Ted Cushing met overseas during WWII and served in the same unit. Upon returning home from the war, Ted married Kathleen Gillespie (Cliff’s youngest sister) on December 14, 1946. Ted and Kath moved to Vancouver, B.C. shortly after they were married where Ted was going to re-enlist with the Army. Cliff contacted them with a proposal to move back to Bearspaw and open a service station in 1948. Ted agreed to a partnership with Cliff and they opened the Bearspaw Service Station in 1948. The partnership was dissolved between Ted and Cliff in 1963. Cliff continued to work at the service station until 1973, and Ted went to work in Calgary. 

Ted and Kath sold their house in Bearspaw in 1973 and moved to Cochrane, Kath passed away January 14, 1976, and Ted passed away on October 26, 1981. Ted and Kath had three children: Gordon, Lynda and Maureen. Gord married Bev in 1979 and they have two children, Shane (Heather) and Dawn (Joel). Lynda married John Brooks in 1973 and they have two children, Cheryl (Leo) St. Amour and Tracy Lee (Colin). They have one granddaughter, Caitlin St. Amour. Maureen married Gerry Nielsen in 1978 and they have two children, Bradley and Darcy. All their children and families currently reside in Calgary. 

Cliff Gillespie married Dorothy Johanson from Ferintosh in 1947. They raised two children, Leanna and Ronald. After selling the Bearspaw Service Station they moved to Water Valley. Cliff and Dorothy enjoyed the slower pace and became active in their new community. After Cliff’s death in 1981, Dorothy moved to Cochrane where she passed away in 2006. 

Leanna married Lorne Patemore. Ronald married Lynn Ellen Helgason. They have five children: Russel in Calgary, Mark in Spain, Ron Jr. a teacher in Coleman, Alberta, Chad in Nanaimo, British Columbia who is into music, and Tayah. Ron and Lynn live at Chestermere Lake, Alberta and do landscaping. 

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Mitford, The Sawmill and the Town

from Big Hill Country

T.B.H. Cochrane, son of Admiral Sir Thomas Cochrane of England, and his wife, Lady Adela Cochrane, daughter of the Earl of Stadbroke, were the founders of Mitford. The Cochranes were a remittance family that had come to Canada in 1883. They went to the High River area and acquired a large ranch lease of fifty-five thousand acres. This was southwest of High River, centred on Township fifteen, Range four. In 1885 they exchanged this lease for one around Township seventeen, Range six, west of the fourth meridian. There is no record of the leases being stocked. In 1886 the Cochranes decided to enter into the lumbering business and chose the subsequent site of Mitford to set up their sawmill business. 

Early in 1886, Tom Cochrane completed his sawmill. It was located three miles west of the present town of Cochrane, on the north side of the Bow River, a short distance from the point where the Canadian Pacific Railway crosses to the south bank of the Bow River. The sawmill was capable of turning out thirty thousand board feet of lumber per day, Tom Cochrane was associated with Hugh Graham, Francis White, and Archibald McVittie of the Calgary Lumber Company and contracted to supply them with lumber. Plans were made to build a rail line from Grand Valley to the sawmill but in the meantime, logs had to be hauled by teamsters, The sawmill went into operation in July 1886. A small steam engine was purchased and work began on building the track. This track was laid northward up Horse Creek Valley for one mile and then westward to Grand Valley, where a turnabout for the engine was built. The remainder of the track was made of wooden rails and extended northward to the Dog Pound Creek. Small horse-drawn cars were used to haul the logs along the wooden railway to the turnabout. 

There were several small stands of fir on the west side of Grand Valley, about five miles north of the Bow River. However, the ties and rails required for the wooden track very nearly used them up. Further north, on the Dog Pound, the timber was mainly spruce and pine. The result was that the best timber was used for the construction of the railroad and there was very little fir left for lumber. The timber limits lay in Townships 27, 28 and 29, Range five and in Townships 27, and 28 in Range six. The logs were hauled down the wooden track by local settlers who worked at a daily wage. The men were poorly supervised and the enterprise, as a whole, was poorly organized. The cars were continually jumping off the track and since the men were paid regardless of the amount of work done, no one helped the teamster whose car was derailed. The result was, hours were spent in idleness waiting for the track to be cleared. “Betsy” would be kept waiting at the turnabout and the mill would be idle. “Betsy” was the name given the engine that was used to haul the logs on the railway and the line was known as the “Betsy line.” Betsy showed an alarming tendency to jump the track. This always required several hours of work getting it ready for operation again. The grade from Horse Creek Valley was quite steep and the engine often ran away when returning with logs. 

In 1887 the townsite received its name. It was named in honour of Mrs. Percy Mitford, a sister of the first Earl of Egerton. Mrs. Mitford was a friend of Lady Adela and also had a financial interest in the Cochrane enterprises. 

The site that Tom Cochrane chose for the little town was very impracticable. It was at the confluence of the Bow River and the Horse Creek, on a low bench some two hundred yards wide and one half mile long. The steep hill to the north of the river and the townsite abutted on the river at the west end of the bench made an entrance from the north or south very difficult. Horse Creek Valley was narrow and it required considerable labour to build the grade for the “Betsy Track.” On the east, the Canadian Pacific Railway occupied the only good approach to the town, and it too was on a sharp incline. At Mitford, the railway and the river came together on a long angle and as a result, the flat between the river and the railway was very narrow. It was on this flat that Tom Cochrane built a store, hotel and a saloon. The only ford across the river was treacherous and of course, horses could not be taken across the railway bridge. On the south side of the river, the hills rose sharply and there were no satisfactory building sites. There is a certain picturesque beauty about the location but as a townsite, particularly a town that was hoped would expand, it was quite impossible. 

In the year 1888 several buildings were erected, among them a livery stable, as well as the store, and hotel. Prior to that, the Cochranes had built their own home, and several bunkhouses were erected for the men working in the sawmill and the coal mine. There had been some private homes built; these no doubt were for the people that operated businesses there. In 1889 Mitford received a Post Office. The first doctor to arrive in the area was Dr. Hayden who had come in 1888. With the sawmill going and the accidents on the Betsy Line, no doubt the doctor was kept busy. He operated a small drug store in connection with his medical practice.

In the year 1888, a fellow by the name of de Journal operated the store and hotel for Tom Cochrane. In 1890 the sawmill was closed down; it was not a success from the start. Count de Journal left the employ of Cochrane in 1890 and was succeeded by R. Smith in the hotel and A. Martin in the store. Mr. Smith had worked in the sawmill for three years before he started in the hotel. His daughter, Violet, was the first child born at Mitford in 1890. His daughter, Sadie, married L. V. Kelly, author of the book, “The Range Men.” 


In 1891 Lady Adela hired Miss Isabel Monilaws of Bruce County, Ontario, to teach school at Mitford. A school was opened in the old saloon, the first school between Calgary and Morleyville. In 1894 the following children attended school at Mitford: Harold, Leslie, Walter and Vera Towers.


Their father was a section man at Radnor and later became a rancher at Jumping Pound. Harry Jones and George Skinner, sons of ranchers north of Cochrane. Birdie Radcliffe, whose father operated a creamery at Big Hill Springs, and Mary, Everett and Joseph McNeil of the John McNeil family.

Miss Monilaws taught school for four years and in 1895 married J. Cooper. Mr. Cooper had been employed by Tom Cochrane at the mine and the sawmill and later at the brickyard. At the time of their marriage, Mr. Cooper was living on his ranch a few miles northwest of Mitford.

The Cochranes, having failed at the lumbering and coal mining ventures, decided to go into the manufacturing of bricks. The clay was hauled from a flat, two miles north of Mitford, by the locomotive. The brickyard consisted of three kilns, of a primitive type, and a number of drying sheds. Mr. Cooper was in charge of the yard. The bricks were of poor quality and expensive to make. The enterprise lasted two summers. 

Doctor Hayden had left Mitford in 1891 and Mr. Cowley came to take over the drug store. Joe Howard built a blacksmith shop one-half mile east of Mitford on the north side of the C.P.R. line. Tom Cochrane decided to build a bridge across the Bow River. It was located one hundred yards east of the railway bridge and consisted of two spans abutting in the middle of the river on a small island. It was a toll bridge for a short time, the fees being five cents for an individual to walk across and ten cents for a team and wagon. 

In 1892 an Anglican Church was built on the hill northeast of the town. Lady Adela collected funds in England and she herself contributed some money to build the church. Many of the furnishings were given by Lady Adela. 

The brickyard was the last business venture of the Cochrane family in this area. It was abandoned in 1893. Betsy was sold to a lumber mill near Golden, British Columbia. The track was taken up and the industrial life of Mitford came to an end. The C.P.R. had never liked to stop at Mitford at any time and finally cancelled regular stops there in 1893. Trains proceeding east and stopping at Mitford were forced to back up a half-mile in order to make the grade out of town. Westbound trains always came to a halt with the engine on the bridge and this was dangerous. The local children soon discovered that a small amount of grease applied to the track caused some worry to the track crews, especially when the trains were going west; they slid right through the town before they could stop. The next three years saw the final abandonment of Mitford. Mr. Martin and Mr. Howard moved to the town of Cochrane and started businesses there. Tom Cochrane decided to enter politics and he ran against Frank Oliver in the election for the House of Commons in 1896 and

was defeated. Shortly after that, the Cochranes returned to England. Tom Cochrane’s sister was a Lady in Waiting to Princess Beatrice of Battenberg. The Princess was Governor of the Isle of Wight. Tom Cochrane’s sister managed to get an appointment for him as Deputy Governor. By 1898 the town of Mitford was deserted, the fire had destroyed many of the buildings and most of the population had left. The Anglican Church was moved to the town of Cochrane and is still there today. All that remains of Mitford is the tiny cemetery on the land where the Anglican Church once sat. The cemetery and the church were on an acre of land purchased by the church in England. 

Included in this story of Mitford are excerpts taken from the diary of Mrs. Algernon St. Maur. Mrs. St. Maur was a friend of Lady Adela and came to Mitford to visit the Cochranes. After going back to England from a visit to Mitford, she wrote the book “Impressions of a Tenderfoot.” 

The book was published in 1890 and the excerpts are from that book. 



 “May 31st. We have a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains here, and on a fine morning it is difficult to believe they are sixty miles away; we are surrounded by fine undulating prairie. The cattle are fat and sleek, though they have had nothing but what they could find on the range all winter. The great drawback here is the frost at night, even in summer there is often enough to injure the potatoes and wheat. Adela and I amused ourselves planting the garden; we sowed cabbages, lettuce, cauliflower, carrots, beets and beans. The soil is surprisingly rich; one digs nearly a yard deep and still it is the same good brown loam. 

“The sawmill and the house are close to the C.P.R.; at the former fifty men are at work. Their wages are from twenty to thirty dollars a month, and they are boarded as well. A private railway brings the logs down from the forest, they are sawn up here and put in the cars for market. 

“N–, Tom C– and Algernon have been busy this morning making a garden fence. They are also building a new hen house; the latter requires to be well put together, to keep out the cold in winter and has double walls with sawdust filled up between. Dug out hen houses with turf also make warm shelter, only a few have stoves, and often the claws of the poor birds get frost Bitten. The cat here has had her ears frozen off; fortunately they are both gone just at the same place, and give her the appearance of having her ears cropped.” 

(Tom C was Tom Cochrane and Algernon was her husband, Mr. St. Maur. N remains unknown, although it is possible that he was the Earl of Norbury who lived for a time with the Cochranes.) 

“June 1st.  Mr. Kerfoot, a neighbour, and one of the best riders and drivers in the northwest drove Adela’s ponies on the buckboard. They have been on the prairies for six months; when taken up they often require rebreaking. One of them lay down twice, bucked, and made a great fuss. Mr. Kerfoot drove them patiently and well. The harness and buckboard both of American make were perfectly adapted to the rough roads and prairie work. These carriages, owing to the wide axle, are almost impossible to upset, and one can drive them where no English carriage could go. The harness enables the horses to go quite independently of each other; the pole pieces, instead of being, as in England, fast to the head of the pole, are here attached to a short bar called the yoke which works loosely on the end of it, and also gives the horses a straight pull in holding back. 

“We all started on the private railway to see the timber limits, which are fifteen miles distant. A truck was arranged for us to sit on in front of the engine, the latter pushing us along. The men in charge drove too fast, and when we had gone about three miles we felt several great jolts, the truck had left the rails and upset; most fortunately for us, one of the wheels got wedged in the sand and the brakeman, having put on the brakes, stopped the engine. For a few moments, there was an awful feeling of suspense; we all expected the engine would come crashing down on top of us; happily, however, this did not occur,

else we might have all been killed. On regaining our feet we found the only person badly injured was the brakeman; the poor fellow lay under the engine with three bad wounds in his head and his ear almost severed from the scalp. With difficulty, he was extricated from his perilous position and while the C–s and Algernon remained with him, N– and I went for assistance. 

“The Doctor came quickly, a wagon followed, the poor fellow was soon in his little bed at the sawmill, and wonderful to relate, though so terribly injured, and with a badly fractured skull, he recovered. It is always much in favour of these men during an illness that they have lived a hardy out-of-door life.

 “June 2nd Drove to the British American Co’s sheep ranche. The manager was away but his housekeeper gave us a luncheon, afterwards, we went fishing. 

“June 4th Ten degrees of frost last night. Algernon went for a ride with Mr. Kerfoot, and in the afternoon we all rode over to his horse ranche. The horses are most clever in avoiding the gopher holes, and if given their head they can go at any pace over them without making a mistake. At the ranche we saw more than a hundred horses. The corrals are wonderfully arranged, three openings into each other. When the band of horses has been driven into the first which is the largest, the horses required for branding or breaking are separated from the rest and the gate being opened, is turned into the second corral. The entrance into the third corral is by a very high strong gate, so arranged as to swing around against the side of this corral with just space for a horse to stand between. A single horse is now let through this gate, which is swung around holding him against the side of the third corral so that he is helpless and cannot fight or hurt himself being branded or bridled. 

“June 6th On the other side of the Bow River is a canyon known as the Jumping Pound, over the edge of which the hunters used to drive the buffalo, and in this canyon, their bones still lie in places two and three feet deep. They are now being taken away and used for manure. A band of Blackfoot Indians passed today; the Chief, “Three Plumes”, rode up to the house to show his permit, which is given by the Indian Agent to enable them to leave their reservations for a stated time; this band had been on a visit to the Stoney Indians. (We have since heard that the guests on leaving stole thirty horses.) 

“June 14th Until this morning we have not seen the Rockies for a week. Innumerable wildflowers grow on the prairie; last month there were anemones of all colours, and in a few weeks there will be masses of dog rose and wild honeysuckle; it is a kind provision of nature that this wild rose is so hardy, it stands even the extreme cold of

winter and grows from the root each year. The doctor, who is a botanist, sent a collection of wildflowers which he had made, to Kew Gardens to be classified. We went to see the coal mine that was discovered three years ago, the first traces of coal being seen at the mouth of a badger’s hole. Adela and I only went in as far as the first galley, where we met a man and horse bringing up a truck of coal to the mouth; the others all departed along with a similar galley, each carrying a Davy lamp; as yet there is little danger of gas, the workings being quite near the surface.

 “June 18th Adela’s sitting hens require a lot of running after, half-wild and fleet as hares, they appear to have a strange dislike to returning to the nest, so we have to get some of the men to help us run them down. Two ranchers came to luncheon today – true types, I should think, of Western men. I hear that their father in England is a rich man, but he seems to do little for his sons. They work hard, even washing all their own clothes and cooking, and it is not therefore to be wondered at, that they look rough. The usual dress out here is a blue flannel shirt, with no collar, but a coloured handkerchief tied loosely round the neck, a buckskin shirt, a pair of leather chaps with fringes down the seams, worn over trousers, boots and a broad-brimmed felt hat with a leather band around it, which is generally stamped with patterns and ornamented in some way. 

“June 21st Today we visited the forest or timber limits, starting early. The ride was quite delightful, as we cantered up and down these limitless plains of grass, with the mountains stretching away into the dim distance as far as the eye could reach, and extending in Canada alone for eight hundred miles. Tares of many shades, pea vine, wild camomile, bugle flowers and many other wildflowers we saw as we rode along, also myrtles, gooseberries and dog roses. Occasionally a few prairie hen rose in front of us, and flew away, wondering doubtless at having been disturbed. As we came into view of the log house where some of the lumbermen live, we saw the forest beneath us. We rode four miles further, over somewhat marshy ground, then after descending a rather precipitous path, we found ourselves at a place which goes by the name of Dog Pound Creek; the horses were all picketed out, the harness and saddles having been removed. 

Madam d’Artigue and her husband and sister (French people from the Basque Provinces) are in charge of this ranche for someone who lives in Calgary. It was quite a pleasure to see their beautifully managed poultry yards. There were hundreds of chickens of all ages and sizes, rows of boxes for the sitting hens with one hen in each all arranged the same and in a practical manner peculiar to French people. There is an excellent market for poultry in the northwest; they told me that for a capon they got one dollar and seventy-five cents in Calgary.

“June 24th-Sunday, In the evening we had a service from a travelling minister, about half the men came; the hymns selected by him were not at all cheerful nor bright, and his sermon was not suitable in any way to the requirements of his listeners, which one regretted.

“June 25th Rather a tragic termination to our visit was caused by another accident on the railway. In the evening we heard the mill whistleblowing violently, and found that the engine, returning with four trucks of lumber, had been thrown off the rails; the engineer got jammed between the engine and the logs, and had his leg broken in two places; but such is the toughness of these men that when being carried down we heard him joking with the others about not yet needing to be carried feet first, though he must have been suffering great pain.”

Its been two years since the Flood

It’s been two years since the Big Hill Springs Creek flooded and caused significant damage to the Cochrane Historical Museum. Here is the story told in pictures.


Flood at twilight
Flood Night West Under Lights
Flood at night Frank Hennessey on Steps
Flood Night Rear
Basement Damage

Recovery Begins

Cochrane Fire Service assisting
Town crew pumping with Frank Hennessey
East side Daylight
Larry Want on Basement Steps
Cochrane Ranche Gate

Repairs Begin

Adding Topsoil West Side
Adding soil southwest side
Adding soil museum rear
Gravel Overlay
Gravel Berm West Side
Downstairs is rebuilt
Water damage up the walls requiring replacement

Where we are today

Downstairs Rebuilt
Stairs after rebuild

Related blogs

Early History of the Rafter 6 Guest Ranch

Rick Guinn; MD of Bighorn Oral History Interview

Rick Guinn is interviewed about a familiar sight in the Bow Valley,  the History of the Rafter 6 Guest Ranch. In the second video he talks about trading horses with his neighbours in the Stoney Nakoda First Nation.

Thanks once again the History Heritage Resource Committee of the M.D. of Bighorn for these interviews and photos.

More Interviews are available

View the whole playlist here and remember to like and subscribe the M.D. Bighorn's YouTube channel.

Burning Outhouse gets Residents Hopping Mad

By Allan and Belle Hall

In firefighting, water is always the main item so in the early 1950s the council, headed by Mayor Barney Klassen decided we were going to have a water system and made plans accordingly. I was offered the job as fire chief, and I was to go to #1 fire hall in Calgary for a week’s training in an instructor’s course. Passing with a mark of 86 percent and returning home, I got together a brigade and we held lectures all summer. The Calgary course was in May 1954, and the council didn’t purchase a rig until September of the same year. 

For the council, water was a big problem. They drilled three wells in the coulee as you start up the Big Hill, on the north side of the road. The council put in a 60,000-gallon storage tank. The wells were entirely inadequate and soon went dry and this upset the ordinary wells that were in the east end of town. 

As diesel engines on the CPR line didn’t require water, the council made arrangements to use the CPR four-inch line that ran from the CPR station east along the tracks to a point in the river, just north of Griffins farm. This set-up worked fine for a while, but soon the old line fell apart. The pressure of water was too much for it. The next step was a new line south from town to the river, which is used today. Seven hydrants were installed, mostly near the business section of town. 

The next thing was how to alert the brigade. In the early days, church bells or phones were used. The alarm issue was solved when we approached the phone office staff. They had a list of phone numbers of firemen and when an alarm was phoned in, the two operators phoned firemen immediately. This alarm system worked well for a number of years until the phone office was done away with. We then went to an electric sentry machine located in the Firehall. When an alarm was phoned in, the machine activated the siren. The first man there tore the tape off the machine which gave the location of fire etcetera. This didn’t work because kids and drunks thought it was a big joke to phone in an alarm and we were chasing false alarms. The next step was to put five phones in various members’ homes. These phones were just for fire and rang only when the fire number was dialled. 

After we had our engine for a while, Alan MacDonald and I decided we would see how well the brigade would act if we were not there. As there was no more use for outside toilets, we asked the council if we could have the big old double toilet that sat behind the community hall. Sure, they said get rid of it. Undercover of darkness and with the aid of a tow truck, we placed it northwest of the Rebekah Hall about where Dr. Kelly’s office is now. Filling the interior with about 20 old car tires with about five gallons of used car oil, topped off with a couple of gallons of gas. 

As I worked at the Texaco garage, we set our watches and 10 p.m. sharp 1 was to turn in the alarm from the garage and Alan would light the fire. The night was very dark and everything went as planned. What we didn’t plan on was the reaction of the local residents. The fire flared up quickly, causing a huge glow as gas and oil went heavenward. The brigade acted promptly and had the fire out in 10 minutes flat. However, Ernie Andison, the butcher, had run all the way from his place, half-dressed. When he found out what had happened, he lit into me. “A scatterbrained lunatic” and a few more choice words that must have blistered the paint on the house nearby. A few more of the residents were upset and we were not too popular.

Firehall 1950

From a Peep into the Past Volume 1 by Gordon and Belle Hall

Beaupre Tales by Paul Gibson

Paul Gibson was interviewed by the Oral History Project of the M.D. of Bighorn.  He talks about the Beaupre Scout Troop and shaking the hand of the Queen in the first video featured.

In the second he talks about the one in a million chance of meeting someone familiar with Jamieson Road while walking in Hyde Park, West London.

Watch the entire Playlist

Paul Gibson talks about living and working in the Jamieson Road Area. Once there, please remember to subscribe to the M.D. Bighorn channel.

Photos and Videos courtesy of the Oral History Project, M.D. of Bighorn.

Zuccolo Family

Catherine Parrine Zuccolo By Wendy Vaughan

Catherine Zuccolo, affectionately known as “Aunt Katy” to all her nieces and nephews, and “Katy” by everyone else, had a wide variety of interests. She graduated from Normal School in Calgary during the 1930s, a time when jobs were not easy to come by. Katy taught in several schools over the years but also cooked for various bridge and oil well crews for a period of time. When Grandma and Grandpa Zuccolo retired to Cochrane, Aunt Katy was always there to look after them during periods of illness. She spent some time out on Saturna Island where Grandpa had property in the late 1940s. Katy was very well-read; she could discuss nearly any topic intelligently. She taught many things to many of her nieces and nephews over the years.

She was very interested in health issues, and many of us received her lectures on vitamins and proper eating habits – long before such topics were acceptable! She was also a very spiritual person who led by example 

She was kind, thoughtful and generous with her time when it came to helping her sisters and their families during busy times. 

Katy was also an avid gardener. She had a good-sized garden at the house in Cochrane and raised most of her own vegetables which she could store in her basement from one season to another. She always had beautiful peonies and roses growing at the front of her house. Like Uncle Johnny, she was always building, fixing and tinkering with things. She was never afraid to try new things. She started skiing when she was 65.

She was an excellent cook. In my mind, no one made apple pie as good as Aunt Katy, not even Mum, and her apple pies were very good. However, I have often seen a resemblance to Aunt Katy in our daughter, Alberta. In my opinion, besides certain personality traits, Alberta has Aunt Katys knack for baking good pies. Aunt Katy would be proud of this if she were here today. Aunt Katy has left us many fond memories

Matilda (Richards) Zuccolo Family By Wendy (Richards) Vaughan 

The story of the Richards and Zuccolo families from the early 1900s when they both arrived in the Morley and Cochrane areas, respectively, is recorded in the original Big Hill Country book published in 1977. There is some overlap of the stories due to the dates involved, but I have chosen to pick up on the stories of the members of the Zuccolo family which stayed in the Cochrane area after the first book was written, and on the whole, to add to rather than repeating the original histories

My parents, Matilda (Tillie) Zuccolo and Jim Richards were married on October 27, 1937. They met in 1931 when Tillie was teaching the Tom Lauder children. Tillie was a graduate of “Normal School” in Calgary, a two year program which at that time was the graduating school for teachers. Tom Lauder and his family were working for Laycocks (located west of Cochrane, Alberta now known as Jamieson Road), and Tillie lived with them and taught the Lauder children from September of 1931 through to January of 1933. The romance did not truly blossom how ever, until Tillie was teaching Laurie and Jean Johnson’s girls in 1936.

After Jim and Tillie married they lived on Jim’s homestead North of Morley. They moved a log cabin which Tillie owned up to the homestead. The cabin had been located on Guy Gibson’s Soldier grant down by the Ghost River. For the next five years, they worked in the mountains for Fred Brewster during the summers and lived on their homestead in the winters. While they worked in the mountains, mainly out of Jasper, Jim acted as a big game guide and Tillie cooked. They had many interesting experiences while in the mountains, and it is unfortunate Mum did not write these up, as most of them are now lost forever. They took out many hunters from the U.S. and had both great and not-so-great trips. Big game hunters now only dream of getting game that was commonplace to shoot then. 

Tillie recalls that times were not always easy to back in the late 1930s and early 1940’s when she and Jim were first married. Guy Gibson had given her a mare and colt for a wedding present, and in 1944 she sold the old mare with the four colts that she had by then. She had to add $2.00 to the money received for the mare and colts to buy their cream separator which cost $39.40. 

Jim and Tillie settled down permanently to ranching in 1943 when their daughter, Wendy, was born. A son, Doug, was born in 1946. 

Over the years, they increased their range cattle herd and also milked 5 or 6 cows every summer and shipped the cream. They would take it to Morley where it would be picked up by the train and taken to a creamery in Calgary. Jim also hayed for the Lindners at the Two Rivers Ranch west of Cochrane every summer from the late 1940s to mid-1950s. Dad also became the councillor for the Improvement District in his area in the 1960s and also sat on the Rockyview Hospital Board. When he passed away in March of 1976, they asked Mum to take his place, which she did. She remained active as a Councillor and on the Hospital Board until her illness prevented her from attending to her duties at which time she resigned in early 1985. 

A few items about our family as I (Wendy) remember growing up. I recall well the early days at home when Uncle Bill and Uncle Audley were living on their homestead next to Dad’s. The recollection I most remember is that they always rode in on horseback, and Uncle Audley, particularly, often corralled horses at our place. (See the poem, Uncle Audley, A vanishing Breed). I recall Dad and Uncle Audley bringing in numbers of horses, especially in the spring, and pulling their manes and tails. The horsehair was then stuffed into gunny sacks and weighed and sold by the pound. I also remember that it was not taken too kindly if someone pulled the tails of another party’s horses. 

My brother, Doug, never went to school, and I only went to school in grade 12. We took all the rest of our school by correspondence. Some of the local kids wondered how we could stand doing school at home, but we thought it was O.K. as we were able to work hard some days and take days off if we wanted to go somewhere or do other things. Also, we usually had our work done at least a month ahead of kids in school and enjoyed long summer holidays to do as we wished. Our close neighbours were the Dawsons and the next closest were the Wasson’s (about 8 miles by horseback). We would often ride to each other’s places to visit and play and as we were all in the same age group, we had a lot of good times together. One of our favourite sports was to go out on the “Point”, a flat area on the south side of the Ghost River where the land was quite flat and reasonably smooth for a couple of miles. Here we would line up our ponies and have horse races, which I’m sure would not have been totally approved of by our respective parents had they known of them at the time. I remember that my old white mare, Josephine, would often win some of these races. 

It was a difficult time for our family when Dad (Jim) passed away in 1976 from a heart attack. Mum (Tillie) remained in the home place and finished the new house which she and Dad had started. Mum passed away in November of 1985 following an eight-month struggle with bone cancer. Five years before she had gone through surgery for breast cancer, and had been given a clean bill of health only a couple of months prior to being diagnosed with bone cancer. 

Wendy married Walter Vaughan of the Dog Pound area (see The Vaughan’s story). They now live on the Vaughan place east of Bottrel. They have two daughters, Alberta (Corey) Telfer and Amanda (Roggero Ciofani). Alberta and Corey blessed us with our first grandchild, Una Vaughan Telfer on May 5th, 2007. They are currently residing in Edmonton, while Amanda and Roggero are living in Saskatoon. 

Doug married Jill Harries of Calgary (also a school teacher), and they reside on Tillie and Jim’s home place. They have two sons, Jimmy and Billy. 

I have included three poems with this write-up, one about Mum, one about Dad and one about Uncle Audley. They tell a lot about their lifestyle. I hope you enjoy them.

John Peter Zuccolo By Wendy Vaughan

“Uncle Johnny” the only son of Tom and Angelina Zuccolo, born April 18, 1907, was loved by all his nieces and nephews, and many of them experienced at least one fishing trip with him in either Spray Lakes or Kananaskis. Fishing was his passion, but I only got to go with him twice, we never got a single bite either time and we were out for several days, so I was bad luck!! He read a lot and always had new ideas for doing or building things. 

He was also very mechanical and was always fixing or tinkering with mechanical items from small engines to vehicles and farm equipment. After the Zuccolo farm was sold in the late 1940’s he moved onto a small piece of land on the Horsecreek northwest of Cochrane. He worked for several farmers off and on over the years including George Perrenoud and Tom Hardy. In the late 1960’s he built a small cabin by the lake at Richards’ where he resided until his passing in 1990. 

Uncle Johnny was like a beaver, he was always building something. At the same time, he would profess that he didn’t like carpentry work! He and his Dad were responsible for building a number of large barns, some of which are still standing northwest of Cochrane. They also worked with other members of the community in building the Dartique Hall. 

He was also very creative building various items with light and dark cedar. His outhouse was a masterpiece! Many of us have items Uncle Johnny built with light and dark cedar.

He also lost his right leg just below the knee in a motorcycle accident in California in the late 1940s, but this did not hamper him from doing many things. Most people would not know he had a wooden leg if they had not been told. He spent his entire life in the Cochrane area. He was quite shy but liked kids, and once you got to know him he could be quite a tease with a good sense of humour. 

John passed away on August 16, 1990. 

Thomas and Angelina Zuccolo Family by Wendy Vaughan

Please see the complete history of the Zuccolo family in the first Big Hill Country book. They immigrated to Slocan, British Columbia in 1905 from Italy two weeks after they were married. However, Grandpa had come to Canada in 1903. As Grandpa could not see a future in the Slocan Valley, he purchased the W Sec 5 Twp 28 Range 4 W5M in the Horse Creek area. In 1919 he moved from British Columbia with his wife, Angelina, and their children: Mary, John, Catherine (Katy), Elsie, Matilda (Tillie), and Adelma (Pete). Alma (Slim) was born on January 28, 1920, after their arrival in Alberta. 


They farmed this land until they sold it in 1948, currently owned by Buck Miller. They bought a small house in Cochrane, two houses to the right and against the hill as you go up the road to the Cochrane High School. They resided in Cochrane where Grandpa was an avid gardener. He also did odd carpenter, yard and miscellaneous jobs for Cochrane residents for many years. Granny (Angelina) passed away on April 14, 1956, at the age of 73. Grandpa (Thomas) passed away on January 4, 1965, at the age of 89. Their daughter, Katy, lived with them and took care of them during their senior years and took over the house after they passed on. 

Mary married Mel Hodgkins in November of 1932. At the time Mel was a trooper in the Lord Strathcona’s Horse. They lived in Calgary and later moved to Ontario where Mel was a member of the Ontario Provincial Police until he retired. They had three children: Olive, Owen and Allen. Mary died in 2004 at the age of 97. 

In 1944 Elsie married Dr. Eric Putt, an agronomist, when they were both working in Hamilton, Ontario. Elsie, who worked at Westinghouse, helped to turn out guns and other war material for the Canadian Forces. They moved to Altona, Manitoba and later to Morden, Manitoba where Eric worked at the Agriculture Research Station. Elsie and Eric had four children: 

David, Laurel, Keith and Neal, prior to Elsies untimely passing in 1956 with cancer

In 2003 the 100th Anniversary of the Zuccolo Family’s arrival in Canada was celebrated at Doug and Jill Richards. It was an awesome event with fifteen of Thomas and Angelina’s grandchildren present, plus spouses, and great grandchildren. Only one grandchild was unable to attend. Alma (Slim) was the only one of their children able to attend. Mary was still alive but not well enough to come. It was a great time. We made quite an extensive family history book for each leg of the family with each of the grandchildren receiving a copy. This is already proving to be a family treasure. 

Uncle Audley - A Vanishing Breed By Wendy Vaughan

He was tall and slim 

With a twinkle in his eye 

His Stetson hat was gray 

The kind with the crown real high. 


He always rode a horse 

That a cowboy would call good. 

Meaning he could do some work 

And take you down the road. 


Uncle Audley was a horseman 

A little hard, some would say 

But you knew horse he rode 

Could pack you night and day. 


His left arm had been injured 

And had healed up at an angle, 

But this was no deterrent 

When it came time for him to wrangle. 


One day I saw him bring in 

A wild bunch all alone, 

Corralled them at our place 

Then cut out the stud – a big bald faced blue roan.


He took the rope down off his saddle 

And with the coils on his left arm 

He front-footed that big stud 

And brought him to the ground. 


His moves were smooth and quiet 

And as he tied that big horse up 

He saw me watching through the logs, 

And asked me to get some table salt from Moth 

metal cup. 


He was waiting when I returned, 

I passed it to his bloodstained hand 

And watched him fill the empty pockets, 

The horse – no longer king of his wild band. 


I think if this day whenever 

I see horsemen without skills, 

Who call out vets in white coats 

With tranquilizer guns and pills. 


Yes, Uncle Audley, 

It leaves me sad to think 

That you were one of a special breed, 

That’s now almost extinct.

The Day Mother Shot A Bear By Wendy Vaughan

She was blessed with many talents 

A few with you I’ll share

Before I relate to you the tale

Of the day she shot a bear. 


Mum could paint a landscape

With the stroke of her oil brush

Or photograph a mountain flower 

Or a bird in the underbrush. 


When we were young she made 

All the clothes we had

From shirts, jeans and moccasins,

To those buckskin coats for Dad.


I remember when just knee high

An embroidered satin shirt she made 

For Chuck Simeon to wear

To the Calgary Stampede Parade. 


Her homemade brown bread 

Was far and wide renowned

But for me, it was wild blueberry pie

For which she should be crowned. 


Mother was a crack shot 

With a Twenty-Two

For backshot squirrels were worthless 

When Simpson & Lee paid you. 


She could milk a cow or stretch a wire 

And packed water from the well

To wash our clothes, and sawed the wood 

To heat it with as well. 


She loved to pick wild berries 

When summer came along

And would ride six miles to the berry patch, 

With syrup tins hanging from the thongs. 


And whether the beauty of a butterfly

Or pulling quills from our old dog,

She taught us kids to respect 

The handiwork of God. 


And at Thanksgiving time each year 

She’d take the Twenty-Two

And with us kids she’d walk the woods 

‘Till we got a ruffled grouse or two. 


She’d shoot them through the head 

And we’d skin them on the spot

So why wouldn’t we be proud of her 

When a bear she finally shot? 


It was back there in the 60’s 

When Banff had problem bears

They’d paint their butts and tag their ears 

And truck them out of there. 


Then dump them in the foothills 

And let the ranchers rant

At these pesky Park dump bears 

Who’d never learned to hunt. 


Well Mum was home alone this day 

When she heard a noise outside

And there was a scruffy blackbear 

Pawing the anthill in our yard. 


The anthill beneath a poplar tree

Was 20 yards from our front door

And Mother anxious at a bear so close

Thought she’d give him a little scare. 


So taking Dad’s 30/30 down 

She levered in a shell

Aimed it at the bear’s thick neck

And pulled the trigger, well – 


That bear dropped right where he stood 

And never moved again

Then as Mum’s luck would have it

Our neighbour, Fred*, drove in. 


When Mum answered the door 

Fred looked around to see

Who might have shot that bear

That lay tagged beneath the tree? 


The gun was resting on the door jam 

So she told her tale to Fred 

And he who loved to talk and tea

Did not linger, for he had news to spread. 


We had no phones in those days

But with Fred the news would pass 

On down the valley quickly

Like a fire in prairie grass. 

Place Names – Complete Listing

by Sonia Turner

Note: Wherever possible, land locations have been listed in brackets. The land location of a creek is that of the mouth of the creek. References for this information include Dominion Topographical maps and the Gazetteer of Canada. 

Atkinson Creek (30-28-6-5) – flows into the Little Red Deer River, and called Beaver Creek by local Indians. 

Aylmer, Mount (27-11-5) – elevation 10,375 feet. Situated north of Lake Minnewanka. It is a prominent mountain easily perceived from the Cochrane area. Named in 1890 by J. J. McArthur, Dominion Land Surveyor, after his hometown of Aylmer, Quebec. 

Bateman Creek (8-24-6-5) – named after the Tom Bateman family, pioneers of Jumping Pound district. 

Bateman Ridge (24-25-4-5) – located in the Jumping Pound area, and named after the Bateman family. 

Baynes House Valley – named for the large house in the valley built by Baynes, one-time partner of A. P. Patrick at the Mount Royal Ranch. 

Benchlands – terraces on the Ghost River, named by Guy Gibson. 

Buffalo Crossing – a crossing on the Ghost River below Benchlands, named by Guy Gibson because of the evidence of buffalo crossing. Nearby, ancient Indian artifacts have been found, including a 12,000-year-old projectile point. 

Burnt Ground – an area northeast of Cochrane, where a fire burned in 1895. As the willow roots burned, depressions were formed, leaving the ground very rough. 

Beaupré – a locality north of 1A Highway about ten miles west of Cochrane. Named after Louis Beaupré, an early settler who bought squatter’s rights there. 

Beaupré Creek (15-26-5-5) – flows through the Beaupré district. 

Beaupré Hill (27-5-5) – a prominent landmark in the district. 

Beaupré Creek School District No. 4182 – was established in 1925. Beaver Dam Creek (10-30-3-5) – rises in the west side of the Weedon district, flows through Mortimer Coulee, and winds on the northeast. So named because of the numerous beavers in it. 

Beaver Dam School District No. 1056 – established in 1904. Still in operation as a small consolidated school. Located one and one-half miles south of Madden. 

Behanhouse Creek – named after Behanhouse. Behan was a cook on a survey party in 1912. 

Big Hill (25-26-3-5) – the hill below which Cochrane is situated. Early maps show it as Manachaban Hill, which is its Blackfoot name. The apex of the Big Hill is about two miles east of the town. 

Big Hill Creek (34-25-4-5) — flows into the Bow River just west of Cochrane, below Big Hill. Big Hill Springs Provincial Park – located six miles northeast of Cochrane in the Big Hill Creek coulee. 

Blackrock Mountain (27-9-5) – elevation 9,580 feet. Readily visible from the Cochrane area. It is a sharp black peak. 

Bottrel (21-28-44-5) – named after A. E. Botterell, and misspelled when officially recorded. At one time several businesses were located there; presently there is a store and a small municipal park. 

Bottrel Road – often called the Dog Pound Road, now designated as Highway 22. Bow River – so named because the Indians obtained wood for bow making along its banks. 

Bow River Fort, or Old Bow Fort (25-7-5) – was the Hudson’s Bay Company fort built on the Bow River in 1833 to promote the fur trade with Indians of the area. Situated at the junction of the Bow River and Bow Fort Creek. It was also known as Piegan Post. 

Brooks Ridge (10-27-6-5) – named after Frank Brooks, the original owner of Brooks Sawmills.

Bryant Creek (9-24-6-5) – located southwest of Jumping Pound, and named after the Bryant family. Alfred Bryant was a forest ranger in that area. 

Caldbeck Post Office (NW 14 4-27-5-5) – named after Caldbeck, Wigton, Cumberland, England, the home of John Peel. 

Chapelton School District No. 1812 – established in 1909. Since the school was in Horse Creek district, the name of the school district was changed to Horse Creek School District in 

Clemens Hill School District No. 4859 – established in 1939, and named after Joe Clemens, pioneer homesteader of the Jumping Pound district. 

Coal Creek – named after the coal deposits at its mouth. Flows through Grand Valley. 

Cochrane (2,3-26-4-5) – situated on the southwest slope and at the base of the Big Hill. Named after Senator M. H. Cochrane (1823 1903), who established the Cochrane Ranche in 1881.

Cochrane Lakes (27,34-26-4-5) – named after W. F. Cochrane, son of Senator M. H. Cochrane of the Cochrane Ranche Company. The lakes are about four miles north of 1A Highway, and west of Highway 22.

Cochrane Lakes School District No. 1947 – established in 1909. 

Cochrane Ridge – located on top of the Big Hill; the ridge is the backbone of the hill. This land is presently being subdivided into 20-acre plots. 

Cope Creek (14-25-5-5) – named after the Cope family, early homesteaders in the area. Cope Ridge (25-5-5) – also named after the Cope family. 

Copithorne Ridge (25-4-5) – located in the Jumping Pound district and named after the Copithorne family, early homesteaders. 

Crawford Plateau (25-5-5) – located in the Jumping Pound district, and named after Arthur Crawford 

Dartigue School District No. 3814 – established in 1919 and named after John Dartigue. A school was never built in the district, due to the small population of school-age children at any one time. Those that did live within the boundaries of the district attended either Chapelton, West Brook or Mount Hope schools. 

Deadman Hill — situated between the Ghost and Bow Rivers; it is believed to be the hill west of the Ghost in the angle it makes with the Bow. In Cree, it was called “chipei watchi.” Hector states that slain Indians were buried in a grave in the woods on top of the hill. 

Deer Springs (2-29-5-5) – located in Winchell Coulee, and so-called because it is frequented by deer.

Desert, The – the high plateau in Township 27, Range 4 that had a very arid, treeless appearance in the dry years of the 1930s. 

Devil’s Head Mountain (27-9-5) – elevation 9, 174feet. Its name is a translation of the Cree name “we-ti-kwas-ti-kan;” in Stoney, “si ham-pa” Tyrell). It was stated by Sir George Simpson that the mountain “bears a resemblance to an upturned face.” 

Dog Pound (29-3-5) – a locality that derives its name from a Cree name, but its origin is not clear. Presently it is a hamlet on the Crossfield – Cremona railway. 

Dog Pound Creek – rises in the Rabbit Lake Indian Reserve and flows in a northeasterly direction. 

DP Valley – runs through the Mount Royal Ranch. 

Dream Hill – believed to be one of the most southerly of the Wildcat Hills. Dr. Hector passed through here in 1858 on one of his explorations. 

Dry Lake (SW14 10-28-4-5) – located in the West Brook area. The land was homesteaded by Marston Brothers; now owned by Mike Harbidge. 

Fallen Timber Creek (32-7-5) – name self explanatory. 

Fricke Creek (28-5-5) – named after Hank Fricke who homesteaded in the area. 

Fuller Pass – between Aura Ranger Station and the Little Red Deer River. Named after Jerry Fuller. 

Garlin Corner – located at the intersection of the Grand Valley road and the road running east between Townships 27 and 28; named after Louis Garlin, whose land corners the intersection.

Ghost Lake (9-26-6-5) – the flooded area formed by the Ghost Dam. There is now a village on the north shore of the lake. The Ghost River flows into the Bow just above the dam. Ghost River (26-6-5) – appeared on the Palliser map of 1860 as Dead Man River. There were said to be many Indian graves along the river. A ghost is supposed to have been going up and down the river picking up the skulls of those who had been slain by the Crees. There are several other legends also. 

Gillies Hill – on the south part of the Gillies family’s homestead. 

Glendale Road – runs north from Highway 1A, then angles northeast to join the Lochend road. In the early years the Glendale road was the route from Cochrane to the area around the Lochend Post Office. 

Grand Valley – named by Donald McEachen, who exclaimed “Aye! It’s a grand valley!” 

Grand Valley School District No. 559 – established in 1900. The old log school is still standing in a field on the old McEachen farm. 

Grease Creek (35-28-6-5) – a tributary of the Little Red Deer River. It receives its name from the greasewood or black birch brush growing along the creek, so named by Sir James Hector, who called them Pre de Graisse. The Stoney Indians called them Sna Tinda Wapta (sna-grease; tinda-meadows; wapta-plains). 

Horse Creek (8-26-4-5) – supposed to have been so named because of a lost horse that was found drowned in the creek. 

Highway 1A – the highway connecting Calgary and Cochrane, and continues west, which follows the old Morley Trail along much of its route. Rev. John McDougall is the first white man on record to travel the Morley Trail; in 1875 he rode east to investigate reports that a company of white men were building at the mouth of the Elbow River. Thus he met the N.W.M.P. detachment who were building Fort Calgary. 

Inglis Post Office – located at the home of A. McCrady in the Inglis district; named after the Inglis family. Inglis School District – established in 1916 and named after the Inglis family. Ireland Hill (27-6-5) – named after John Ireland, who homesteaded there; located in the Grand Valley hills. 

Irwin Hill (26-6-5) – located in the Beaupré district. Believed to have been named after James Irwin, who lived nearby in Jackass Canyon. 

Jackass Canyon (26-6-5) – located northwest of Beaupré. When the C.P.R. came through in the 1880s, mules were used for building the roadbed. These mules were wintered in this canyon, hence the name. 

Jacob Creek (6-26-6-5) – named after a Stoney Indian chief who signed Treaty No. 7 in 1877. It flows into the Ghost Dam reservoir. 

Jamieson Creek (26-6-5) – a tributary of the Ghost River, named after the Jamieson family.

Jean’s Creek – flows into Rabbit Creek from the east, at a point two miles south of the Little Red Deer River. Named about 1934 after Jean L. Johnson, who camped there when she homesteaded. 

Jumping Pound – locality south and west of Cochrane. 

Jumping Pound Creek (4-26-4-5) – flows into the Bow River southwest of Cochrane. In Blackfoot, its name is Ninapiskan, or “men’s pound”. There is a buffalo jump on a high, steep bank near its mouth, hence the name given to the creek. There is also a Jumping Pound Mountain (23-7-5), elevation 7,300 feet. 

Kangienos Lake (26-7-5) – a narrow lake almost two miles long. 

Kerfoot Creek (10-27-5-5) – named after W. D Kerfoot. 

Keystone Hills (27,28-6-5) – named about 1928 by an oil company. 

Klondike Valley – an area west of Bottrel, so named because it was rumoured to be a source of gold in the early days. 

Le Sueur Creek (31-26-7-5) – named after the Payn Le Sueur family, who homesteaded in the area, and were the first owners of the Bar C Ranch. Little Jumping Pound Creek (30-24-4-5) – flows into the Jumping Pound Creek. 

Lochend – a locality 14 miles northeast of Cochrane, named by J. K. Laidlaw, 

Lochend Lake – named by J. K. Laidlaw, and derived from the Gaelic name meaning “at the end of the lake”. 

Lochend Post Office (27-3-5) – was located in the Laidlaw home, and established in 1905. Lochend Road – runs north from the 1A Highway to Madden. 

Lochend School District No. 2732 – established in 1912. 

Madden (31-28-2-5) — a hamlet named after Bernard Madden, an early settler of the Beaver Dam district. 

Manachaban Hill – the Blackfoot name for what is more commonly known as Big Hill. 

McDonald Coulee – runs west into the Big Hill Creek coulee. At one time the land was owned by D. P. McDonald, who had a calf camp in the Big Hill Creek coulee. 

McDougall Coulee (31,32-4,5-5) – named after the McDougall family. 

McDougall, Mount – elevation 8,500 feet. Named after Rev. George McDougall and his sons,  Rev. John, and David. 

McKenna Creek (5-26-4-5) – flows into the Bow River south of Mitford. 

Milligan Hill (7-27-6-5) – named by Guy Gibson, because John Milligan had one of the first cabins in that area, 

Mill Valley – located west of Stimson Valley; named after Quigley’s sawmill. 

Mitford (26-5-5) – a town between Cochrane and Morley on the banks of the Bow River. Mitford was named by Lady Adela Cochrane after her friend Mrs. Percy Mitford. The town was abandoned when the C.P.R. established their station at Cochrane, and later a fire burned the buildings that remained; some, such as All Saints Anglican Church, were moved to Cochrane. 

Montreal Valley – named after the Mount Royal Ranch. 

Morley – an Indian Reservation. Established as a mission at Morleyville, by the Rev. George McDougall. Named after Rev. Morley Punshon. 

Mortimer Coulee – the deep, wide valley near the head of Beaver Dam Creek, named after the Mortimer Brothers, who homesteaded in the coulee. 

Nesbitt Coulee – north of Bottrel; named after David Nesbitt, pioneer carpenter who built many of the log houses in the Bottrel area. 

Norman Lake (22-24-5-5) – located southwest of Jumping Pound; named after the Norman family who lived nearby. 

Nicoll Ridge (25-4,5-5) – located in the Jumping Pound area; named after the Nicoll family. 

Owl Creek (23-28-7-5) – runs north into Beaver (Atkinson) Creek. 

Parks Creek (10-25-5-5) – located in the Jumping Pound area west of Cope Creek. Named after the Park family, who homesteaded nearby. 

Parks Ridge – also in the west Jumping Pound area. 

Pirmez Creek (24-3-5) (1910); named after Count Raoul Pirmez, owner of the Belgian Horse Ranch.

Phipps Corner – located on the Horse Creek road at the corner of John Phipps’ homestead quarter. 

Pile of Bones Creek (24-25-5-5) – presumably so named because of the severe cattle losses suffered by the Cochrane Ranche, whose cattle watered nearby on a quarter set aside as a water reserve (SW14 14-25-5-5). 

Potts Lake (31-25-5-5) – named after the Potts family, early homesteaders in the Jumping Pound district. 

Pocaterra Creek and Pocaterra Range – named after George Pocaterra. 

Potato Patch Hill – so named because of the potato patch on the sheltered slope of the hill on the Glenfinnan Ranch. A. W. McDonald was the gardener. Also called Red Slipper Hill, because Guy Gibson put Mrs. Wynne’s red slipper on the hill. 

Radnor (26-5-5) – a flag-stop station on the C.P.R. just east of the Ghost Dam. Named in 1884 after Wilma, daughter of the 5th Earl of Radnor. 

Ranch Creek (26-6-5) – near Behanhouse Creek. Ranch Creek flows into Behanhouse Creek which is a tributary to Spencer Creek. 

Robber’s Roost – origin unknown. 

Robinson Creek (27-6-5) – named after Tom Robinson, an early settler who lived on the banks of the creek. 

Salter Creek (30-28-6-5) – Named in 1884 by G.M. Dawson, after his packer, a Scottish half breed, residing on the Stoney reserve at Morley, Alberta. 

Salter Lake (27-6-5) — called Rabbit Lake by the local Indians. 

Sheep Ranch Hill – the hill just west of Cochrane, between the town and the Cochrane Ranche, so named because the sheep corrals were at its base. It is presently known as Cochrane Crescent. 

Scott Lake (25-6-5) – named after Leeson’s partner, Scott. 

Sibbald Creek (8-24-6-5) – named after the Sibbald family who homesteaded in the area.

Sibbald Flats (13-24-7-5) – a level grassy meadow in the foothills, in the area west of the Sibbald homestead. 

Sibbald Lake (5,8-25-6-5) – also named after the Sibbald family; it is now a recreational park.

Spencer Creek (17-26-6-5) – named after Mr. Spencer, one of the first settlers east of Morleyville. 

Spencer Hills (26-6-5) – also named after Mr. Spencer and located in the same area. 

Sta Wapta – cool running water; also two rivers. 

Stimson Valley – located north of the Beaupré district; named after Fred Stimson. 

Swanson Creek (18-28-5-5) – named after Paul Swanson. It is located in the north range of the Grand Valley hills. 

Swanson Hills (28-5-5) – also named after Paul Swanson. They are between the Dog Pound Creek and Coal Creek. 

Summit Hill – a high hill east of Bottrel, for which the Summit Hill School District and schools were named. 

Waiparous Creek (6-27-6-5) – is part of the Ghost River system. It is derived from a Stoney Indian name meaning “Crow Indian scalp.” 

Weedon School District – located in Township 27, Range 4; named by J. K. Hammond, an early homesteader, after his hometown in England. 

Wildcat Hills (26-5-5) – elevation 5,135 feet; a range of timbered hills northwest of Cochrane. 

Winchell Coulee – located south of Water Valley; named after the Winchell family who settled there.

Winchell Lake – located near the Winchell home; a well-known fishing spot. 

Windy Flats located on the east side of Big Hill Creek coulee, approximately east of the Big Hill Springs Provincial Park. The name speaks for itself. 

Wright’s Lake (11-28-4-5) – named after Scotty Wright, who homesteaded the NW 4 of the section.

Fire Fighting has Changed

By Gordon and Belle Hall

Few records have been kept in regards to the activities of various groups in Cochrane – one being the Cochrane volunteer fire department in 1956. While recovering from an operation, I had the time and opportunity to search through the old Village of Cochrane council minute books from 1903. Through these minutes I was able to trace the start of the fire department. 

In Heritage Park, in Calgary, in front of what was supposed to be the old Cochrane fire hall, there is a plaque with a story on it about how the horses stood ready in the stalls, waiting to pull the Cochrane fire rig. This makes a good story, but it is not true as at no time did horses pull the rig. The village was not big enough and the rig was pulled by manpower, being just a small chemical outfit. The supposed fire hall was a barn that sat next to the fire hall and the one end knocked out housed the ladder rig. However, as regards the history, at a council meeting of February 13, 1909, a discussion took place on fire protection. There was a motion by Andrew Chapman and seconded by Gerald Mortimer that the secretary write R. Bickle of Winnipeg to purchase two 60 gallon chemical engines of the Obenchain Boyer type, then another motion by Chapman and Mortimer to the effect that J. H. Campbell and G. Mortimer be a committee to procure a suitable site for a fire hall, providing some can be got at a reasonable price. The apparatus consisted of water in the tanks, with a small amount of acid to make foam. The council promptly drew on the treasurer for $50 as a down payment.

At the same meeting, it was decided to accept Robert Chapman’s tender for the erection of council chambers and fire hall for a sum of $419. The building was to be completed by April 15, 1909, also the secretary wrote Bickle to ship the fire engines at once. Council appointed R. Hewitt as the first fire chief and he was to pick 12 associates for his brigade and to pick a suitable building and packing cases for a fire test on June 7, weather favourable. Most of their concern was with hay and sheaves which were stacked around barns, also faulty chimneys and on August 7, 1910, the chief was empowered to put up signs dealing with fire regulations. Hewitt was paid the sum of $5 per month to be constable, fire chief and sanitary inspector. Hewitt resigned in 1910. 

We find at the March 2, 1909 meeting the committee has found Lot 7 Block 6 and could be bought for $150. The council finds encumbrances against the lot so this site is scrapped. Then at the March 13, 1909 meeting, they found the west halves of Lots 7 and 8, Block 7 could be purchased from C. W. Fisher for $150.00 Chapman was reappointed chief in 1913 with an additional $25 per year and the regular fire fees were to be :$2 retaining fees: 25 cents for each practice (24 per year): $1 per hour for first-hour fighting fire and 50 cents per hour for additional hours, which sounds lucrative, to say the least. 

On January 25, 1913, Tom Quigley was asked to thaw out the apparatus. 

On February 19 they bought a 10-foot ladder from R. Bickle and two 16-foot roof ladders from R. Chapman. 

Sam Christianson was chief for 1914/15/16 and 1917 when he was paid $10. Christianson was the local blacksmith.

 In May 1919, Robert Butler was asked to secure assistance and overhaul the fire engines. Butler must have been chief for 1919 as he sent the council a bill for $25. However, we find in a meeting of Feb. 9, 1920, motion by Rollinger that R. Chapman does the job and M. J. Tesky was appointed chief. Equipment was purchased namely a 25-foot hose, two attachments and one union, one minute book, and one coil pump. Robert Chapman was appointed chief in 1912. 

One of the main problems concerning the brigade was how to keep the apparatus from freezing, having just wood and coal stoves at that time, someone had to keep a fire in the fire hall during the winter months. At this point in time, by order in council, the fire apparatus was to be taken out of the Firehall and housed in Chapman Garage with R. Chapman as chief. The Chapman Garage was later purchased by Marshall Baptie and the old rig was stored there from 1920 to 1945 when Baptie Motors burned and the old rig went with it. 

After reading the village minutes from 1903 I find the first big fire was the Murphy house and the house next to it. The fire is mentioned in the minutes of December 12, 1927. The following year the Fisher Block burned – mentioned in the minutes of October 1, 1928. 

Murphy Hotel

The Cochrane rig never acted on these fires as it would have been useless. The Calgary department sent out a rig but took too long to get there and had no water when they did. 

Nick Cosis had a shoemaker shop in the Fisher Block. After the fire, he rented the fire hall from 1928 until the 1940s when he retired. Nick was a Greek and quite a gambler, and inside the fire hall the walls were covered with Irish Sweepstake tickets.

Fisher Block
Elevator Fire 1981

From a Peep into the Past A collection of Historic Poems and Short Stories by Gordon and Belle Hall Vol. 1

The First Fire Brigade

Random Notes from Gordon and Belle Hall

The following article is from a Peep into the Past by Gordon and Belle Hall.  They ran a series of articles that outlined the history of the local fire department.

A new brick Presbyterian church was built in 1909 which in 1925 or thereabouts became the United Church of Canada. The first fire brigade was organized in 1909, also with a fire hall and council chambers being built for a sum of $429. The Andison Brothers made an appearance in the early 1900s,  Ernest had a meat market and William the grocery end of it. Beynons, the Davis families and the Quigleys who had a sawmill and brickyard in the east part of town, all put in an appearance. 

The Chapman Brothers, Andy and Bob, were carpenters and built many houses here before starting Chapman Brothers Garage. Andrew Chapman was postmaster here for 37 years, from 1912 to 1949. R.A. Webster ran a feed and livery stable, and also ran the UFA store. S.D. Chester had a lumber yard.

Chapmans Garage 1920s courtesy Glenbow Archives

Before the first war there were five brickyards in operation, also quarries where sandstone was removed, sawed into blocks and shipped to various points in the province. Some of the Cochrane sandstone helped build the parliament buildings in Edmonton. C.W. Fisher was quite prominent, owning the Merina Ranch south of the Bow River and building a large block in the downtown area known as the Fisher Block. It was destroyed by fire in 1928. Fisher also built the large stone house for his new bride, it is now known as the Franciscan Retreat.

The start of the first world war drained the manpower around Cochrane, as it did all across Canada. The brickyards and quarries closed up, most for good. Only one brickyard survived and that was Pete Collins yard which ran off and on till 1928 when it closed for good. 

The old slaughterhouse stood by the Big Hill Creek, where the road crosses the creek in Glenbow subdivision just west of the stampede grounds. It was a building about 20 feet wide and 40 feet long and was quite high, with a rail to put carcasses on, running the length of the building. I never could find out much history on it except it was used prior to 1920.

Hosecart Exhibit

From A Peep into the Past Vol. 1 by Gordon and Bell Hall.

Photos from CHAPS & Glenbow Archives.

Doug Richards and the Early Years

I love these oral histories. It’s great to hear the stories rather than simply imagine them while reading. This history by the Historical Resource Committee of the M.D. Bighorn Oral History project is Doug Richard’s recollection of growing up in the country west of Cochrane before good roads, telephones, or utilities.

There are more stories where he recalls his family’s rodeo history, operating the sawmill, family life and the 4H club.


by Marjorie Spicer

Cochrane came into being with the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Its name was given by the C.P.R. in honour of Senator M. H. Cochrane, who established the first large leasehold cattle ranch in southern Alberta, then the Northwest Territories. The C.P.R. came west to Cochrane in the early 1880s. A townsite was granted to the C.P.R. on portions of the west half of section 2 and the east half of section 3 in Township 26-4-5. The NorthWest Land Company, a subsidiary of the C.P.R., parcelled the site into lots. 

The townsite has a mixture of advantages and disadvantages that have become manifest at different times in the history of the town.

The one advantage that the town has, and which will always remain, is the beauty of the location. The town lies at the foot of Big Hill, which rises some 600 feet behind it. The Bow Valley stretching out to the south is some three miles wide at this point and the river bed lies along the southern edge of the valley. To the east, the Big Hill, which normally runs east and west parallel to the river, has a sharp projection to the south that marks the eastern boundary of this wide valley. Cochrane lies in the angle made by these two hills. To the west, the valley tends to narrow until it is little wider than the river bed at the junction of the Ghost and Bow Rivers, eleven miles away. The view of the foothills and the Rockies from the town is superb. 

The second and more practical advantage is Cochrane’s situation in the heart of a prosperous mixed farming area. In the early years of its history, this advantage was not apparent. The town was located within the boundaries of the Cochrane Ranche, later the British American Ranche and rural settlement took place some distance away. When the Ranche gave up the leasehold in the late 1880s, settlers were able to take up land nearer the townsite. Mitford had 

sprung up in 1886 and the settlers did their shopping and business there, but when the town was abandoned in the 1890s, Cochrane became the centre of the rural area and the town began to grow. 

The history of the Cochrane area, although in many respects similar to that of most other sections of Alberta,

displays some characteristics that are unusual. Insofar as the Morleyville settlement was a part of this district for a time, the region around Cochrane has been distinguished from others in southern Alberta by the fact that the first nucleus of the settlement was a mission among the Indians. Then, too, Cochrane was the site of the first of the great company cattle ranches that were to have such an important influence on the development of the southern half of the province. 

The history of the Cochrane area also presents an interesting example of the influence of geographical position on the development of local society. To begin with, there were the hardy pioneers, travelling with teams of horses and oxen into an isolated section of the land and laying the foundation of a tightly knit community. The railway followed and established a much closer link with the rest of Canada both east and west. It brought new settlers, with the result that the social structure of the area was modified. The early community feeling was partially broken down by the influx of great numbers of homesteaders, who were regarded as somewhat inferior socially because they were unpropertied newcomers and a threat to the open grazing that some of the ranchers had free use of. The earlier concept of ranchers being more aristocratic than farmers began to wane, partly because farmers proved their enterprise could be just as profitable as ranching.

Around 1898 the people living in the hamlet showed signs of progression. Industries started to spring up and by 1900 signs of self-sufficient industrial communities were showing up; brickyards and stone quarries started to operate as well as lumberyards and sawmills. The residents applied for Village status in 1903. It appeared that the Village did not have to depend on the rural population for survival. This all ended when World War I broke out. The scarcity of manpower caused the brickyards to shut down and the stone quarry was unable to sell its product; methods in the building were changing. The village did not show any signs of progression until after World War II. The oil boom came to Cochrane and the town started to grow once again.

George Creighton and the Bar C

by Laurie Johnson

One of the more colourful characters to settle in the Cochrane district was George Creighton, who came West from Ontario, where, in his youth, he had worked on the Ottawa River log drives. He was a generous man and highly patriotic, but, though there is no record of his having injured anyone, he could be fierce when he felt his rights or his territory were being invaded, and he would go to great lengths to scare away those he wanted to get rid of. I did not work for George Creighton but I knew him well, had some dealings with him and found him to be a real gentleman. 

He homesteaded the W1, 28-26-5-5 and moved into the cabin built by Beaupré. In 1876 Beaupré had come with his wife and squatted on the land beside the creek which bears his name. He built a little log cabin and a long, low stable. The logs were skillfully dovetailed and the sod roofs were covered with troughed logs. He gathered together a little herd of cattle, but in 1883 he sold out and moved away. Shortly after he left, George Creighton settled on the place. 

In the late 1890s, Creighton took horses to the Peace River country and packed for a survey party. It is believed that he went to the Klondike in the gold rush of 1898. After his return he hired Downey, in 1903, to build the large square house that used to stand on the Beaupré Creek Ranch. His second wife died in childbirth, and both she and the babe were buried beside the house. Later they were moved to the Cochrane Cemetery. 

Creighton’s great ambition was to own a thousand head of horses. With this in view, he bought the Le Sueur ranch, which, from that time on, has carried the name of Creighton’s brand, the Bar C. The Bar C Ranch was ideally situated and blessedly remote before the building of the Forest Reserve road. In George Creighton’s day, the Eau Claire road had been built south to Morley. The Bar C was almost encircled by creeks and rivers, both the Waiparous Creek and the Ghost River have their source behind Black Rock Mountain which stands guard over Bar C territory. On the Bar C range, Meadow Creek with its many small branches flows into the Waiparous and Le Sueur Creek into the Ghost. The Waiparous joins the Ghost just four miles east of the ranch buildings, and that triangle is known as the Forks field. Besides the deeded land Creighton held some Crown land under lease.

When the Forestry Department sent a man named Flack into Creighton’s territory to build a log ranger station at Aura spring, Creighton burned the cabin and scared the man out of there. He felt justified in doing this because under the terms of his lease he was not to cut timber nor allow anyone to do so. The Forestry Department then hired Archie Howard to move up to Aura spring and build a cabin. At this time I became slightly involved as both sides borrowed weapons from me. Archie Howard knew of Flack’s experience and asked me for my 32 revolver. He said he would need it for protection. Not long after, Creighton came and asked me if I had a 45 with black ammunition. I had just what he wanted – a gun which would make a loud noise and a lot of smoke. When he brought it back to me he said, “It worked!” No further attempt was made to build a ranger station there till after his death!

If Creighton wanted to get rid of anyone he could scare the hell out of them. He never swore, but he would get up in the night and roar around and roll the cylinder of his six-shooter. John, a Russian, who worked for him, was one of his victims. John slept in a little room off the kitchen. When he heard those terrifying sounds in the night he dived through a small window, taking the sash with him. He took off east, running as if the devil were after him. D. P. McDonald used to say that the window sash was still around his neck when he reached the Mount Royal Ranch. D.P. put him to sleep in the bunkhouse, but John insisted that trunks be piled around him where he lay in the corner. He was still afraid that Creighton would come for him. 

Mr. Austin, at one-time editor of the Cochrane Advocate, once spent a few days at the Bar C and was forced out of there by Creighton in much the same way. Fearing that he would die before he reached safety, he wrote a note and left it on a tree by Waiparous Creek. The note stated that Creighton was responsible for his death, but he reached the Glenfinnan Ranch safely. 

Creighton’s horses never numbered many over 650 head. He kept about ten stallions, Rock, a Thoroughbred, and one, Saxon, was a Coachhorse. He occasionally left a few good colts uncastrated, to roam the range. Each horse had his own territory, more or less. Two might run with their mares in the Forks field. One old stallion, Donald, a Shire by Old Willow, was never brought in from the Devil’s Head camp, summer or winter, till the ranch changed hands. Another bunch ran on Meadow Creek and a couple of bunches up the Waiparous. Drift fences were almost unknown but Creighton did some fencing around the Devil’s Head Camp. (This camp was east of Black Rock and several miles from the Devil’s Head.) Dave McDougall used to push his horses up to this open range so Creighton wanted to build a drift fence there. He hauled some rolls of wire up to the top of the hill, by the old road no longer in use, and left the wire there – about two miles west of Le Sueur Creek. Dave McDougall came along and rolled it all down the hill and into the Ghost River.

Corrals were spotted here and there over the range: one in the Forks field; one on the bank of the Waiparous, just below the Sand Ridges; one above Squaw Flats; one at Le Sueur Creek and one at the Devil’s Head camp. Ed Thompson was a foreman and at times he had quite a few riders helping him. When they ran into a bunch of horses they corralled them and branded the foals. Some of the horses ran as far east as Robinson Creek and the head of the Dog Pound Creek. When these were gathered they were always taken to the Beaupré place. Generally, there were a couple of men at each place, in the summer, breaking horses.

 In 1914 after the outbreak of the First World War the Government was buying remounts George Creighton hired Clem Edge and George Gordon to break horses along with Thompson When he had a carload of good horses ready to go, Creighton called up Colonel Fry to come out and inspect them and pick out those he wanted. Creighton refused to put a price on them but said he would deliver them to Cochrane on a certain day. This he did, and he donated them to the Government as his war effort. He donated to every local cause during the war. Every year he gave an equal amount of money to each of the Cochrane churches, the Anglican, the Catholic and the Presbyterian. 

The year 1914 brought more tragedy into George Creighton’s life. The trouble all started over a little bay mare. George Ward, who was working for Creighton, claimed this slick and planned to put his brand on her. One day when Ward was away, Creighton branded her with the Bar C. In revenge, Ward reported Creighton for horse stealing. Creighton wanted Paddy Nolan to defend him but they were on the outs, and he was too proud to ask him. So he asked Charlie Grayson to get him a lawyer, knowing that he would get Nolan. In the long-drawn-out trial, Nolan defended him so well that Ward, the only witness, left that part of the country and Creighton was acquitted. The stress and worry were too much for George Creighton and he died in March 1915.

 When George Creighton died, his brother, Tom, came from Eastern Canada to take over the ranch. He had been a timber cruiser and admitted that he knew nothing about horses. Ed Thompson hired me to help him break horses and do the other ranch work. We worked together all summer and then Thompson left to visit his brother in the States and I became foreman, Tom’s son, Ernest, came from the East and did his best to help with all the work. 

Just one year after George Creighton died, the ranch was sold to P. D. Bowlen. I hired Marshall Baptie and Jack Fuller to help me gather the horses. Later Eddie Rowe came from Saskatchewan to the ranch. Altogether we gathered 650 horses and as fast as they were gathered P. D. Bowlen sold all that was saleable. After the horses were gathered, Eddie Bowlen and I broke horses down at the Beaupré Ranch. 

I tried to get Ed Thompson to come back to the Bar C but he was building up the Little Red Deer place. He did ride over once in a while to visit. One day when I was away, P.D. and Rowe decided to butcher a pig. P.D., with a little pocket knife in his hand, was chasing the pig around and Rowe was killing himself laughing when Ed Thompson rode in. “What are you trying to do?” asked Thompson. “Kill this pig!” said Bowlen. “Why don’t you poison him?” said Thompson 

Mrs. Bowlen stayed at the ranch most of the time and P.D. was often away. One day she asked me to drive her to Morley in their Studebaker. I had never driven a car so I backed it from the shed into a large paddock where the gates were shut, and I drove it around and around trying to get used to the gears. I didn’t notice that Thompson had ridden in and was watching me, till I heard him yell, “If you’re afraid to take it out why don’t you tie up a leg?” 

While I was at the Bar C, Ed Bowlen, P.D.’s brother, came for a visit. He was an engineer on the building of the Panama Canal and was a remarkably versatile man. Ed Thompson showed him how to dovetail the corners of a log building, and, although he was not an axeman, he built the stable which still stands and did an excellent job of the corners. 

In the spring and early summer of 1915, it rained for forty days and nights. Boney Thompson and I rode day after day in the rain and for three weeks we were stranded there unable to cross the flooded rivers. I tried to get out over the Le Sueur crossing but my horse rolled over in the swift water. Fortunately, we came out on the same side of the river. This was just after Bowlen bought the ranch.

On three occasions, at least, the Bar C was threatened by fire and much of the range was burned over. Luckily the buildings always escaped. In 1910 a fire came from the south, jumped the Ghost River, Waiparous Creek and the Little Red Deer River and burned the Greasy Plains and beyond. In 1914 a fire was started by lightning up Waiparous Creek. George Creighton, Boney Thompson, Jerry Fuller and his son, Jack, fought this fire and almost had it under control when the wind changed and took it west to Black Rock and south to the Bar Chay meadows. In 1919 a fire started in the Broken Leg Lake country, jumped the Ghost River, where the gravel flats are a quarter of a mile wide, and came so close to the Bar C buildings that P. D. Bowlen took everything out of the house and stacked it in a pile in the big paddock. 

In 1912, Brady, a prospector, who had discovered gold in California, caused more excitement when he claimed to have discovered gold on the north bank of the Ghost, just south of the Bar C. Cochrane went wild. Many parties were outfitted there and guided up to the strike. It is estimated that five hundred claims were staked but they only produced fool’s gold. 

In 1924 P. D. Bowlen sold the Bar C to Mr. Duncan and his sons, Cecil and Jack. They kept sheep as well as cattle and horses. They branded their horses quarter-circle D, and horses with that brand could still be seen running wild on the Forest Reserve in the 1950s, years after Duncan’s left. 

In 1935 they sold the Bar C to Mrs. Merriman and her daughter. By this time more deeded land had been added to the ranch: the Hudson’s Bay Section at the north and some C.P.R. land in the Forks Field. Mrs. Merriman’s grandchildren, Gina and Jack Souther took correspondence courses for a while before continuing their schooling in Calgary. Jack is a geologist and Gina is a talented artist and bronze sculptor. She married Robert McDougall and they have three children, Sally, Robert and Jean. 

The ranch has changed hands several times since Mrs. Merriman bought it and it is now owned by Lester Beck.

Jack Pine Savages

by Jean Johnson 

The Jack Pine Savages was a little local club organized by Mrs. Ethel Wynne and named by Guy Gibson. Mrs. Wynne – never called by her first name – was an interesting person. She was artistic, well-read and she had an active mind. She was a staunch Conservative and, at one time, she had taken a great interest in politics. She worked for R. B. Bennett in his successful campaigns of 1925 and 1926, but for some mysterious reason, when he became a leader of the Conservative party of Canada in 1927, she went into what she always called the “Seven Year’s Silence.” 

In 1934, having broken the Seven Year’s Silence and having renewed her correspondence with the “Right Honourable”, she cast about for a cause. In 1934 all the talk was about Social Credit. 

Mrs. Wynne decided to form a club for the purpose of suppressing this upstart idea. So, mounted on her roan pony, Willie, she rode around the neighbourhood and interviewed those she wanted in her club. The idea of a club, an excuse to get together for a social evening, appealed to all of us and we agreed to join. Mrs. Wynne was the president of the Jack Pine Savages, Jean Johnson, the secretary, and Audley Richards, the treasurer. The other members were: Walter Candy, “the common denominator of all Albertans’, Mrs. Jamieson and Sandy, Jack McDonald, Guy Gibson and Maud Lewis King. A rather unlikely group to overthrow anything. 

Throughout all our meetings Social Credit was never mentioned; we decided that the proper procedure was to raise some money. Each member was instructed to arrange an affair at which a silver collection could be taken. Several of us put on dances in our homes, but there was a natural reluctance to pass the hat. The music was free and the ladies brought food – so why charge? 

In the winter of 1935-36, Mrs. Wynne attempted to get up a play with only Jack Pine Savages in the cast. But most of us were rather poor actors so she abandoned that project. 

In 1936 Jean and Laurie Johnson put on the first gymkhana held on the Mount Royal picnic grounds. A picnic for local people, with foot races, jumping and a few horse races, had been a yearly event, but there had never been a full-blown gymkhana such as the one now planned by the Jack Pine Savages. It was decided that the members should ask merchants and others to donate prizes. Walter Candy went to Calgary and returned in triumph with the following loot: twenty subscriptions to the Farm and Ranch Review, a flashlight, a lady’s compact and a dozen tulip bulbs. Jimmie Rodger of Morley Trading donated a pair of stirrups, Laurie browbeat Riley and McCormick into donating a bridle and Tilda Hammond donated a Navajo blanket. Word of the last two prizes generated great excitement and people started training their saddle horses. 

Most of the events were of the traditional type, but Guy Gibson devised a cowboy race in which the rider lay on the ground wrapped in his saddle blanket and his head on his saddle; his horse hobbled nearby. On a signal, he was to arise, unhobble his horse, saddle up and ride to a given point. This race led to a horrible amount of skullduggery. All were supposed to be wrapped in a full-sized blanket which had to be folded up. Some sinners disregarded this rule. Each was required to hobble his horse with a strip torn from gunny sack and tied with a square knot. One malicious character snuck in and wrapped certain knots with stout twine tied in hard knots which couldn’t be untied in half an hour. But, we made some money. The gymkhana was a great success and under other auspices, was carried on for many years. 

In November of 1936, a disastrous fire swept the country south of the Bow River. The Savages unanimously agreed to donate all their funds to help those who were burned out. After that, no more meetings were held. 

Ironically, Social Credit in Alberta outlived all the Jack Pine Savages except three, Audley, Sandy and Jean. 

The Richards Family

by Audley and Jim Richards, as told to Wendy Vaughan

 The Richards Brothers, Bill, James, Albert (Ab), and Dave resided at McLaren’s Depot, Frontenac County, Ontario, where they farmed and ran a general store. 

In 1902 Bill Richards came West to Calgary and went into the sawmill business with a man named George Hatt. The mill was located on the south side of the Stoney Indian Reserve at Morley. That same year Bill Richards wrote his brother, James, asking him to come west and look things over, which he did in 1903. James Richards purchased George Hatt’s interest in the mill at that time, and in 1904 brought his wife, Agnes, and their four children, Audley, Edgar, Hazel and Gladys, West. After their arrival three more children were born to their family; Jim at Morley in 1909, and Agnes and Bill in Calgary in 1911 and 1913, respectively. The two other Richards brothers, Ab and Dave, also came West a little later. 

After buying out George Hatt in 1904, Richards Brothers moved the mill to the north side of the Stoney Indian Reserve near the east end. As their contract with the Indians to supply logs was not panning out, they purchased 12 of Section 23-26-7-5 (north of the Reserve) from the CPR. 

They were about to move the mill to the new timber berth when the Indians decided they wanted them to stay, and so instead in 1905 they moved the mill one mile west of the old site onto a small lake. This new site was the original location of Reverend George McDougall’s first Fort when he moved to Morley. The mounds of the old Fort can still be seen, and the house which the Richards built also still stands there. 

In 1906 the Richards Brothers, James, Dave and Bill, homesteaded some land in the Queenstown area, and in May, 1907, were caught in a severe blizzard at Gleichen while moving two carloads of equipment and horses to the homesteads. The horses were unloaded at Gleichen during the storm which lasted for three days and took a large toll of livestock in the area. At this time the Richards Brothers’ families were living in Calgary as there was no schooling in the Morley area then. 

In 1910 James and Bill Richards formed a company with George Wayman, owner of the City Planing Mills, Calgary, and carried on lumbering, a sash and door business, and contracting. In 1913 they expanded their operation. This was a disastrous move for the company as it came just before the slump of 1914 when

everything came to a standstill. With their lumber business at a low ebb, in 1914 Richards Brothers took on a haying contract at Hussar and put up 500 tons of hay for P. Burns at $2.00 a ton. Machinery for haying was purchased from the Cockshutt Plow Co. and International Harvester Co. Before they could collect their money for the contract they had to buy a baler, bale the hay, and ship it out 12 miles in the spring of 1915. In 1914 when Richards undertook the haying contract, general economic conditions were terrible. For example, while they were taking their wagons and equipment through Calgary on the way to Hussar, hundreds of men out of work tried to jump on the wagons with the hope of getting a job with the outfit. In fact, so many men climbed aboard that they had to be pushed off so the horses could still pull the wagons. Eventually they were all pushed off, except for one man who was so persistent that finally Richards allowed him to stay. This man helped them hay the rest of the summer for only his board and room. 

During 1913 and 1914 Richards Brothers plowed fireguards for the CPR from Radnor (east of Morley) to Seebe. On May 16, 1914, James Richards staked a mining claim in the Clearwater area of the Forest Reserve. John Hunter of Morley and Tom Noble went with him on this venture. The claim, however, was never developed. 

The Company liquidated due to the Depression, and in 1915 James Richards took a contract breaking and farming a quarter section of land west of Langdon owned by his brother Ab. The fall of 1915 he supplied Foulton Brothers of Indus with six teams and bundle racks for their threshing outfit. James’ sons, Audley and Edgar, worked as helpers on this crew, as well as on a crew for Foultons in 1916. During the summers they worked the mill at Morley. 

In 1917 the Richards Brothers contracted to build a barn for Robert (Scotty) White of Indus (later of the Cochrane District). Audley and Ed also worked on this project, and in the summer the brothers again moved back to Morley to work the mill. 

After the Richards Brothers Company liquidated, only James Richards and his family remained in the Morley district, where James continued to run the mill. His wife, Agnes, had passed away in 1914 leaving a family of very young children. During their school years, the children went to various schools in Calgary. Some also attended school on the Reserve and at other times they had a governess right at the mill. Audley recalls a time when he went to school at Victoria School in Calgary, located near the present Calgary Stampede grounds, and that they used to go down to the race track to watch the famous pacing horse, Dan Patch, work out. In 1908, Audley also recalled seeing a type of stampede in Calgary. It was more or less a big roundup of horses and cattle, with a lot of cowboys there riding and roping. 

Many stories could be told of life at the mill. One is recalled when James Richards employed a Chinese cook. This cook would set his fresh baked pies on the window sill of the kitchen to cool. Young Jim and Bill Richards and their friend, Joe Fox, would watch for the cook to go to the spring for water, then would sneak up and steal the cook’s pies off the ledge and run off into the maze of lumber piles to eat their spoil. The cook would return to find some of his fresh pies missing, and would then stand on the kitchen step and look and look, but never caught them. 

In 1918 Audley, the eldest of James Richards’ sons, went to work for Mr. Desjardine of Gleichen when Desjardine moved 500 head of cattle up to Morley. Desjardine had leased the north side of the Stoney Reserve and built a full set of corrals on the north side of the Bow River west of Morley, a location which is still known locally as the “Desjardine Corrals.” The location has also become well known in the film industry as scenes from several movies have been filmed there, including those from “Little Big Man.” Desjardine moved his horses and cattle back to Gleichen in 1919 and Audley, after helping put in the crop in the spring of 1920, quit and came back to Morley just before the mill burned down. 

The mill completely burned down in 1920 shortly after it was started up in the spring. The mill was built to run from steam, had three steam boilers, and was valued at about $20,000. As there was no insurance on it and little was saved, the mill was never rebuilt. 

The summer after the mill burned, Audley and Ed went to work haying for their uncle, Bill Richards, at Irricana. They also did a mile of road grading for him to enable him to work off his land taxes, and in the fall the two brothers 

also helped other farmers in the district threshing. In 1921 Audley and Ed went in on a haying contract which T. J. Noble and Donald Cameron of the McCorkell Place obtained for putting up hay on the Ricks Ranch, southeast of Morley. 

For several winters after the mill burned down, James Richards and sons supplied pilings to Alberta Wood Preservers in Calgary. They took the pilings out of their timber berth during the winter, stockpiled them at the mill site, and in the summer hauled them to Morley where they were put on cars for shipping to Calgary. All of the timber was hauled by horses. In 1924 James and his sons, Audley, Ed and Jim, hauled poles for Calgary Power for the No. 3 Line from Ozada to Chinequay. Audley also had a job stretching wire with a team from Morley to Calgary. Richards had a teepee of their own at this time and used it for camping in while working on their contracts. 

The years following the mill’s burning saw James’ girls, Agnes, Gladys and Hazel all eventually take up permanent residence in Calgary. Hazel married Oscar Beaudry and they had three children, Joan, Victor and Louise. She resided in Calgary until her death in 1957. Gladys worked in Calgary as a legal secretary until her death in 1948. Agnes still resides in Calgary where she has her own dressmaking business. James Richards lived mainly in the Morley and Calgary areas until his death in 1956 at the age of 83. 

In 1930 Ed Richards purchased some land originally belonging to Andrew Sibbald (now a part of the Stah Wapta Ranches) and the four young bachelor brothers resided there much of the time until the late 1930s. James also stayed with the boys until he purchased a section of land directly south of Ed’s and moved there in the early 1930s. He later sold this section to his son, Bill, after Bill returned from the Second World War. Also during the early 1930s Audley, Jim and Bill homesteaded quarters northwest of the Morley Indian Reserve. Jim and his family still live on his homestead where they carry on ranching. 

While the brothers were batching at Ed’s, they raised a number of horses, and broke and sold horses. They also worked out for various local ranchers including Dave McDougall, Jim Boyce (an outfitter in Banff), Tom Noble, Laurie Johnson, and others. Audley, Jim and Bill also made improvements on their homesteads during this period. 

During these years of bachelorhood, the young Richards brothers were dubbed “The Playboys of Poverty Bend” by their local neighbours. The first break-up of the group occurred in 1937 when Jim married Tillie Zuccolo. They met in 1931 when Tillie was teaching the Tom Lauder children. Tom Lauder and his family were working for Laycocks then, and Tillie lived with them and taught the Lauder children from September of 1931 through to January of 1933. The romance did not truly blossom however, until Tillie was teaching Laurie and Jean Johnson’s girls in 1936. 

After Jim and Tillie married they lived on Jim’s homestead. They moved a log cabin which Tillie owned up to the homestead. The cabin had been located on Guy Gibson’s Soldier grant down by the Ghost River. For the next five years they worked in the mountains for Fred Brewster during the summers, and lived on their homestead in the winters. While they worked in the mountains (mainly out of Jasper), Jim acted as a big game guide and Tillie cooked. 

During the 1930s Jim Richards competed in Saddle Bronc Riding at various local rodeos such as Morley, Dog Pound, Sundre and Calgary, He was in the North American Saddle Bronc Riding finals five out of the six years he rode in Calgary, although he was never lucky enough to win the event. Jim recalls that in those days travelling to rodeos did not have all the luxurious conveniences of swift trucks and fancy campers. In 1937 he and Tillie, along with Laurie and Jean Johnson, packed a couple of horses and all rode to Sundre for the rodeo. They camped at Sundre during the rodeo and then packed up and rode home when the show was over. Jim recalls that he won the Saddle Bronc event at Sundre that year and that the total trip took several days. 

Jim and Tillie settled down permanently to ranching in 1943 when their daughter, Wendy, was born. A son, Doug, was born in 1946. Wendy married Walter Vaughan of the Dog Pound area. They now own the Vaughan place east of Bottrel, but having pioneer blood in their veins, they rented the farm out in 1974 and moved to the Bonanza area of the Peace River country to prove up on their homestead land in that area. Doug married Jill Harries of Calgary and they reside in Jim’s place, where they are building a new log house. The lumber being used for their house was planed at Brooks’ sawmill and the planer which Brooks have is the one the Richards brothers had in their mill. Like Jim, Doug has become a bronc rider. He won the Saddle Bronc Riding title in the F.C.A. Rodeo circuit in 1971, and also has a small string of good bucking horses. Also, like his Dad, Doug married a school teacher. 

In 1938 Ed Richards married Marjorie Eckel. They had one son, Kenneth. Ed and Marjorie ranched on Ed’s place until the mid-fifties when they sold out to what is now Stah Wapta Ranches. They then moved to Calgary where Ed worked for Firestone Tire Co. until his retirement. They now reside in Creston, British Columbia, 

Audley married Esther Ernst in 1945. They have a daughter, Jackie, now married and living in Calgary, and a son, David. When they were first married they resided in Audley’s homestead. They then worked for Brewster’s for a number of years and resided part of the time at 

Black Rock where Brewster’s winter their horses. During the 1950s Audley went to work for Calgary Power at Seebe and remained with them until his retirement. He still resides at the Horseshoe Dam below Seebe and works for the Parks Department in the summertime. Esther cooked for Brewster’s on their Trail Rides out of Banff for many years as well. David Richards is presently building a log house on his Dad’s old homestead. 

In 1946 Bill Richards returned from the Second World War and brought with him his war bride, Mariette, from Belgium. Mariette, a war widow, had a small daughter, Suzy, who joined them here several years later. For a time Bill and Mariette resided on their homestead next to Audley’s and Jim’s. This was at first a harrowing experience for a new bride from Belgium who, at the time, could speak very little English. One of Mariette’s biggest fears was bears, and Wendy recalls a time when she stayed with Mariette for a few days to keep her company while Bill was away: 

“At the time, I was about 3 or 4 years old and bears were the least of my worries. I remember going outside (unseen by Mariette) to the little house” up the trail. I was sitting there minding my own business when I heard Mariette calling my name (at the time I didn’t understand much else she said). Finally, I answered and she came and gave me a good scolding. To get her point across I can remember her pointing into the woods behind the little house and stressing the word “Bears”, to which I remember replying that I hadn’t seen any bears, and generally acted most unconcerned.”

Bill and Mariette sold their homestead quarter to Jim in 1952 after they moved to Bill’s Dad’s place. In 1959 they sold this place to Two Rivers Ranches and moved to Calgary for several years. When they were still at the ranch, Bill worked at different times for Poole Construction on various projects. In the mid-1960s Bill and Mariette built a new home in Cochrane and moved back to the district. After he left the ranch Bill worked for the Department of Highways until his death in 1972. Suzy married John Poynter in 1958 and lives in the Beaupré district with their three children, Rosemarie, Gary and Jerry. Mariette sold her home in Cochrane and moved back to Calgary in 1974. 

The Richards could tell enough stories of happenings and events of their everyday lives through the years to fill a book. The following are only a few of those stories which bear facts of historical interest to the community or have a dash of entertainment value, as told by various members of the Richards family. 

Audley recalls some of the early neighbours they had at the mill and a couple of events in his own life: 

“During the early days at the mill, the nearest white neighbour was three miles away. David McDougall’s family ran a store two miles east of Morley and George McDougall ranched one-half mile further east yet. John McCorkell ranched east of George McDougall, and the Graham place was the Bow View Ranch. John Niddrie was the school teacher at the Indian Orphanage, but later moved to an old schoolhouse one mile from the mill. He had a few students there for about a year. Niddrie also had a quarter of land near the Graham Ranch, and his brand was bar F5. 

Other neighbours in the area were Frank Fletcher, L. Q. Coleman, and Mr. Potts (Sandy Jamieson’s Grandad). T. J. Noble rented the Andrew Sibbald place and later homesteaded a quarter just east of it. 

The Kidd Brothers, Fred and Stewart, ran the store at Morley and ranched on the SL (Leeson and Scott Place) located southeast of Morley, The brothers later moved to Nordegg with the Indian Affairs Dept. Mr. Fleetham was the Indian Agent and Stocking was the Clerk. Christianson was the Blacksmith. He later set up a shop in Cochrane. John McKenzie was the Indian Stockman at that time and later moved to Exshaw. 

Mr. Ings was the minister at the Indian Church. Mr. L. Q. Coleman supplied a piece of land on the main road on his place for the Methodists to build a church for the white settlers. At the time when the Richards family was living at the mill, a minister came from Canmore every two weeks to preach a sermon and would stop overnight at different places. 

Mr. L. Q. Coleman had a second place on the Red Deer River and when Archie Howard came to work for Coleman, Archie homesteaded that place and ran a bunch of horses there for a number of years.” 

Audley also recalls: 

“In 1929 I helped Gunsolly round up a bunch of horses from behind the Devil’s Head Mountain. These were the last of the large number of horses which the Bar C had run. They were taken down to Gunsolly’s place on Horse Creek for breaking and were then trailed to Edmonton where they were loaded on rail cars and shipped to Spirit River. After being unloaded at Spirit River they were sold to local farmers and homesteaders in that area. Raymond Shortclothes also helped with breaking and shipping these horses. 

“One time, when I was still quite young, one of our neighbours went to town (Calgary) and asked me to pick him up off the train at Morley. This neighbour had a habit of “taking on a little too much” when on his town excursions, but the conductors got to know him and would let him off at Morley. Anyway, the day I went to pick him up, the train had already passed through when I got there and the neighbour was nowhere to be found. However, some Indians were there and they told me he had gone to Jake Swampy’s place not far from the station, so I went over, and sure enough, the neighbour was there, but in no condition to ride home. Another old Indian, Peter

Wesley was there. He was probably about 70-80 years at the time and had been a scout for McDougall’s when they came to the Morley district. He couldn’t speak English, but using Jake Swampy for an interpreter, started telling me stories of the days when they used to fight other tribes and to demonstrate, took off his shirt to show the torture wounds and arrow scars he bore. After a few of these stories, I began to get worried, as the neighbour was unaware of the situation going on around him, and it was growing dark outside. Needless to say, I was most happy to leave when I finally aroused the neighbour and we got underway. The old Indian, Peter Wesley, was reputed to be one of the best “Bow and Arrow” Indians of his day. 

Another bit of interesting general information on the Richards boys is that during the 1930s and 1940s they accumulated a large number of horses. They estimate that at one time they had in the neighbourhood of 400 head. These horses roamed the free-range north of the Morley Reservation and west to the mountains on what was then Forest Reserve. When the Forest Reserve was first leased out for cattle grazing, the Richards had to reduce the size of their herd. As horses were then virtually worth nothing, Jim, Audley and Bill went into the mink business and began shooting these wild horses to feed the mink. They stayed in this business several years during the late 1940s and used up a large number of their horses for mink feed. None of them enjoyed this, and when the horses were thinned out and mink prices went down, they went out of the mink business. 

Tillie Richards recalls that times were not always easy back in the late 1930s and early 1940s when she and Jim were first married. Guy Gibson had given her a mare and colt for a wedding present, and in 1944 she sold the old mare with the four colts that she had by then. She had to add $2.00 to the money received for the mare and colts to buy the separator which cost $39.40. 

It might be noted that over the past few years while Jim’s son, Doug, has been building up his herd of bucking horses, Jim has been heard to complain about “all those damn horses eating off the grass for my cows.” However, it was noticed, while Jim was thumbing through his old files, that in the late 1930s when he was reporting to the Alberta Government on the numbers of livestock which his homestead was supporting, the figures over a five year period read something like this: 1st year — 2 cows and 6 horses; 2nd year – 4 cows and 8 horses; 3rd year – 4 cows and 10 horses; 4th year – 4 cows and 12 horses; 5th year – 4 cows and 20 horses. And so, it seems that perhaps the ratio of cows to horses is actually somewhat higher now than it was back then! 

I (Wendy) would like to add a few items about our family as seen from my own point of view, and during my time. I recall well the early days at home when Uncle Bill and Uncle Audley were living on their homesteads next to Dad’s. The recollection I most remember is that they always rode in on horseback, and Uncle Audley, particularly, often corralled horses at our place. I recall Dad and Uncle Audley bringing in numbers of horses, especially in the spring, and pulling their manes and tails. The horsehair was then stuffed into gunny sacks and weighed and sold by the pound. I also remember that it was not taken too kindly if someone pulled the tails of another party’s horses. 

My brother Doug never went to school, and I only went to school in grade 12. We took all the rest of our school by correspondence. Some of the local kids wondered how we could stand doing school that way, but we thought it was O.K. as we were able to work hard some days and take days off if we wanted to go somewhere or do other things. Also, we usually had our work done at least a month ahead of kids in school and enjoyed long summer holidays to do as we wished. Our close neighbours were the Dawson’s and the next closest were the Wasson’s (about 8 miles by horseback). We would often ride to each other’s places to visit and play and as we were all in the same age group, we had a lot of good times together. One of our favourite sports was to go out on the “Point”, a flat area on the south side of the Ghost River where the land was quite flat and reasonably smooth for a couple of miles. Here we would line up our ponies and have horse races, which I’m sure would not have been totally approved of by our respective parents had they known of them at the time. I remember that my old white mare, Josephine, would often win some of these races. As a point of interest, she is now owned by Hugh Wearmouth and is over 30 years old. 

When we were quite young, Doug and I joined the local 4-H Beef Club which we enjoyed very much. We were in the club for seven years and during that time showed some of the calves from Dad’s herd to club championships. As the 4-H Club was the centre of our social life with other people, we gained a lot of good knowledge and entertainment from it, which has benefited both of us to this day. 

In summarizing, our family life was always happy and usually had a lot of funny moments. The thing that clearly sticks out to me now is that we nearly always did things together. Mum and Dad, particularly since the roads and communications have improved to their place, are quite active in community affairs. Dad has been the Councilor in the I.D. area for a number of years and is also on the Board of Directors for the Rockyview Hospital in Calgary, and Mum is on the Planning Board for the area. 

One other thing the Richards boys will always be remembered for in the community is when they participated at local house parties and dances. Dad and Uncle Audley both called square dances, but the highlight of every evening was when someone would bring in the old washtub which Dad would use for a Tom-tom. He would sing the Indian chicken dance chant and beat the tub, and Uncle Audley and Uncle Bill would do the chicken dance. Depending on the time of night and the “spirit” of the occasion, these chicken dances could sometimes transport the audience back in time, to where they would almost believe they were at a real Indian pow wow.

A Doctors Grave at Kicking Horse Pass


It is a steady climb from Cochrane to Banff and Lake Louise and on up to the Kicking Horse Pass which seems to be tucked away in the heart of the Rockies right on top of the world. It is probably the best-known pass through the Rocky Mountains because the first trans-Canada railway was built through it. But long before it was built surveyors and engineers trudged through the mountains in search of the easiest route to lay steel to the Pacific 

That is how Captain Palliser of the Royal Civil Engineers of England and his friends Captain Blackstone, who was also an engineer; Mr. Sullivan the camp cook; a Frenchman who was botanist for the party; and the hero of the story, Dr. Hector, their medical advisor, came to be camped beside a wild unknown river deep in the heart of the mountains. Swift and turbulent, this river channelled its way through a gorge of stone over a cataract, resounding so loudly that even at the engineer’s camp, a quarter-mile away the waterfall echoed like distant thunder. There was a sharp frost that June night about 1860, so Mr. Sullivan crawled out of his bed of spruce boughs in the early dawn and stirred up the fire and had a pot of tea boiling, some pemmican porridge cooking and a special treat of rainbow trout sizzling in the frying pan when the warmth of the fire and the good smell of food cooking brought the others from their tents. 

Throughout breakfast, they discussed the work for that day and it was decided to ford the river above the falls where the current appeared to be less strong. However, it proved strong enough when the pack horses balked and had to be chased into it. Just as it appeared as if all would ford the river safely, another packhorse balked and Dr. Hector leaned over and gave him a sharp cut with his whip. Instantly the horse kicked out with both feet and a sharp iron shoe caught Dr. Hector on the forehead. He slumped in the saddle and the horse bolted with his unconscious body. When the animal was finally captured and Dr. Hector released, he appeared to be quite dead. A grave was dug in that lonely spot, where the turbulent waterfall would be his monument. According to reports, the grave was completed and Captain Palliser had gone to one side to meditate over the simple words for the funeral service of his friend. Suddenly one of the other men noticed a slight movement as of breathing, and a tinge of colour returning to the doctor’s cheeks. He lost no time in calling the others and you can imagine their thankfulness at finding their friend alive. That is why that particular campsite is recorded in Captain Palliser’s notebook as Kicking Horse Camp and that is why the name Kicking Horse was later adopted for the falls, the river and the mountain pass.

Thanks again to Belle and Gordon Hall for this story from A Peep into the Past Volume II.

CHAPS sends condolences

CHAPS would like to recognize the passing of the subjects of two of our recent stories. Horst Wirsig, who told the stories of his family’s immigration and adventures after World War II passed away in January. Bob Smith who told stories of Seebe, Lake Minnewanka, photography and nature also passed away in January.

Both had their stories captured on video in the Oral History Project (History Resource Committee, M.D. Bighorn).

CHAPS sends our condolences to family and friends.

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