Aileen Copithorne talks about the freedom experienced growing up in Cochrane. CHAPS Cochrane has a YouTube Channel with over 40 interesting stories of Cochrane.
Aileen Davies grew up in Cochrane in the home that is now the Cochrane Historical Museum.
She has many stories of growing up in a small town.
She tells a story of biking with friend, Dorothy Reed when Mr O’Keefe, the Bank Manager once offered them ride to 12 Mile Coulee to watch the Stampede Fireworks. They left their bikes behind Andisons’ store. Not thinking that fireworks were after dark they didn’t get home until late. Both parents had searched river and creek areas looking for them. “Our parents were so glad to see us we didn’t get in too much trouble.”
“Dorothy and I had stick horses which we rode over the hill to the brickyard. We also had stilts made by uncle Jack. The family across the road had tall stilts and used to sit on roof of house across the street just to watch people. Their name was Kinsley.”
Aileen went to school in brick school that used to be where Holy Spirit currently sits. She remembers looking south one day to see the Brushy Ridge fire. Students were glued to the windows and the smoke was horrendous.
“I was the lone graduate in my class of grade 12. It was very lonely in high school.” She had classmates in earlier grades but they did not stick it out to Grade 12.
“School was very regimented. Our Principal had a hand bell to call us back to class. If you didn’t behave you got hit with the bell. We used to have to line up girls then boys and march into school.”
“Cochrane used to be divided into east side and west side. You didn’t have friends from the other side of town. You visited the other side if you had relatives but there was little mixing. Many homes in Cochrane had barns behind them for horses and carriages. Homes had large gardens.” Aileen remembers Auntie Annie feeding a lot of men when they got off the train with food from the garden and from local chickens.
She attended a very rigorous 3 year Nursing program at Calgary General. “The first year you felt basically a slave, we were paid $6.00 per month, had no days off, had to attend lectures from Doctors during our off time and had a 10 PM curfew. Year 3 you were a Senior and had more freedom.” Occasionally she came home on the midnight train. The uniform was black stockings, striped blue and white dress, with apron and bib with white hat. “The stockings were terrible.”
Since the train used to stop in Cochrane it was used to get into Calgary.
Aileen married John Copithorne and moved to their family place that originally sat where Gleneagles Golf Course currently is.
Aileen tells a story about John’s dad when driving their first tractor. He ran it through a fence into McPherson’s. When asked about his accident he said he hollered “Whoa but the damn thing didn’t stop”.
Aileen says they were lucky to grow up in Cochrane in an uncomplicated time.