Where do we go from here?

By Dave Whittle Pg 220 More Big Hill Country 2009

Cochrane’s population in 1970 finally reached 1000 people after many decades of not exceeding 500. The present explosion to over 13,000 has in part affected the growth and nature of the business community. 

In the 60’s, we relied on three service stations for our cars and their repair and fuel. Presently, cars are purchased from a similar number of dealers but gasoline comes from other sources – gas bars with convenience stores; supermarkets with gas bars, and regular gas stations. Tires are a separate business with name-brand stores.

Car washes have become a necessity, mechanical repair shops a must as well as auto body repair and car detailing businesses. Specialists in wheel alignment, oil changes, windshield replacement, trailer hitches, parts store, and even driver training help to employ our growing members. 

For many years the town had no motels, relying on an outdated hotel and a few small cabins, occupied mostly by permanent residents. Suddenly, this changed and now there are four major hotels, supported by many condos that have changed the picture. 

From a mere three restaurants and an ice cream parlour in the fifties, one can now choose to eat out at a different place every day for a month. 

In the 1970s, Cochrane’s first liquor store arrived which was a government-operated outlet. In those days one had to fill out a form giving name, address, and telephone number as well as what liquor one wanted. This was handed in to the person behind the counter who then went and got your liquor putting it in a brown paper bag. Thirty-five years later we have at least six of the private variety. 

A new market created by the age of computers has prompted many business opportunities in the town. 

In the field of health and wellness, fifty years ago we were lucky to have a full-time resident doctor and even more fortunate to have a dentist. From 1917, there was a local drugstore operated continuously by Mr. Smyth. Dr. Waite, Hedley Hart, and Bob Graham until 1955. How many drugstores do we have in 2008, including those in supermarkets? 

No paramedics, no ambulance, and no local hospital, it really was a do-it-yourself community of 500 people in 1950.

At present, nearly all our needs have been fulfilled including many wellness and fitness clinics, spas, and gymnasiums, along with many health professionals. Not to be overlooked is the Family and Community Support Services, funded by the town and the provincial government. 

The growth of the town is probably best portrayed by looking at the old brick schoolhouse which was torn down and replaced in 1967. Presently, there are at least eight schools in use within the town. 

Before After

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Oil and Gas Resources in Big Hill Country

Page 65 Big Hill Country 1977

In 1914 there were ten oil companies drilling in the Jumping Pound area. Natural gas had been leaking out of fissures in the ground in the district since the earliest times but had attracted little attention until 1914. Some idea of the availability of gas pockets may be gained when the experience of the Purity Gas Co. in 1914 is considered. This company drilled to a depth of 890 feet and discovered three large gas deposits in that distance. Throughout 1914, 1915 and 1916 various companies drilled wells. Some of them went to a depth of 3000 feet, but, although great quantities of gas were discovered, there was little crude oil. In 1927 Imperial Oil drilled a well 5200 feet and still did not find oil. 

Since the Second World War, Shell Oil Co. has drilled two wells to a depth of ten thousand feet but has been unable to find oil in commercial quantities. This company turned its attention to the natural gas in the district and constructed a large scrubbing plant to purify the gas for export. The gas contains large amounts of sulphur compounds, and methods were developed to purify the gas and make the development of this natural resource profitable. A pipeline to Calgary was completed in 1950, and work then began on a line to Exshaw and Banff. 

The Shell Plant is located 11 miles southwest of Cochrane on the west bank of the Jumping Pound Creek. The original plant was officially opened on May 7, 1951, with a treating capacity of 20 million cubic feet per day of sweet natural gas. It employed 15 men. A Sulphur Recovery Plant was added and went into production on February 2, 1952, with a capacity of 27 long tons of sulphur per day. The Sulphur Recovery Plant has the distinction of being the first of its kind in Canada. Four wells supplied the feedstock to the plant from the Jumping Pound field during the first year of operation. 


Over the last 22 years, the raw gas supply has been increased by the drilling of another seven wells in the Jumping Pound field as well as the addition of the Jumping Pound north, Sarcee, Jumping Pound west, and Bragg Creek fields. At present, there are a total of 29 wells. 

During this period, the plant has undergone four major expansions and five minor and medium-sized expansions, increasing production to 200 million cubic feet per day of sweet natural gas, 500 long tons of sulphur per day, plus propane, butane, and pentane as additional products. 

The installation of continuous operating, monitoring, and control facilities to preserve the environment has been a significant factor included in the various expansions. 

The Jumping Pound plant supplies more than 70% of the domestic and industrial requirements of the city of Calgary and 100% of the requirements of Cochrane, Morley, Exshaw, Canmore, and Banff.

The plant employs 69 Shell personnel as well as a contract maintenance group averaging 23 personnel. All personnel commute daily from Cochrane and Calgary. 

The Wildcat Hills gas field, situated about 10 miles west of Cochrane, was discovered in December 1958. The field initially contained seven producing wells and development drilling has continued over the past fifteen years to the point where eighteen wells now produce gas for the plant. 

The Wildcat Hills gas processing and sulphur recovery plant is located nine miles west of Cochrane, on the north bank of the Bow River. It is operated by Petrofina Canada Ltd. for a group of five owner companies, including Petrofina. The plant was started on January 1, 1962, and processes a sour gas stream from the Wildcat Hills gas field to the northwest of the plant. The sales products from this plant are sweet natural gas, liquid hydrocarbons, and sulphur. 

With over ten years of production from the field, the natural pressure in the underground reservoir has dropped considerably. In order to maintain a high rate of production, it has become necessary to lower the field pipeline pressure. Since the plant has to operate with an inlet pressure of 1,000 pounds per square inch, the pipeline had to be boosted ahead of the plant. For this reason, in 1972, two 1,670 horsepower compressors were installed, being the first major addition to the plant. 

While the plant requires only three people a shift to run it, the total number of persons working in the plant and field is 38; of these, 16 live in Cochrane and the district, and the remainder in Calgary. 

A third plant, the Alberta Natural Gas Company Cochrane Extraction Plant is located one and a half miles northwest of Cochrane. It is the second largest of its kind in the world. The plant is designed to process 830,000,000 standard cubic feet of pipeline gas per day. This is enough to heat eight cities the size of Calgary for one day. From the pipeline gas, propane and other liquid hydrocarbons are extracted. All plant liquid hydrocarbon production has been contracted for a forty-year period. 

Installation of new equipment to the value of approximately 60 million dollars is expected to begin in 1977. This equipment is necessary to accomplish the recovery of ethane in addition to the present production of butane and propane. 

During the construction of this plant in 1969, 400 men were employed. This highly automated plant went on stream in 1970, and presently employs 23 people on site, many of whom are Cochrane and district residents. 

In 1962 the first producing oil well near Cochrane was drilled in the Lochend area. There are presently eight oil wells in production in the Lochend-Inglis field. It is classed as a “stable field;” the oil is recovered from a seven-foot pay zone in the Cardium formation. 

An excerpt from a book entitled “Oil Finding,” by E. H. Cunningham Craig, printed in London in 1914, is interesting in regard to the discovery of oil and gas. E. H. Cunningham Craig was the man J. A. W. Fraser had as a guest at Jumping Pound when the oil boom was on in Calgary. It was on this man’s advice that Mr. Fraser formed the company Petrol Limited, with headquarters in Belgium. Plans fell by the wayside with the invasion of Belgium in 1914. Mr. Cunningham Craig writes. 

“It is, of course, in the case of the first test well of a new field, or presumed field, that the importance of carefully selecting a site is more forcibly brought home to us, and it is this aspect also which appeals most to the general public. The geologist who undertakes oilfield work will soon weary of the oft-reiterated question, “How do you know where to put a well?” 

“There are many methods of actually making the first selection. It is told of one well-known and very successful exploiter and driller in the United States he frankly stated that his method was to put on an old and cherished hat and gallop a rough horse about the countryside or farm till the hat dropped off. On the spot where it fell, he drilled the well. The story is at least “ben travato,” and it is possibly quite true. 

“The writer knows one highly productive and very valuable field, miles from the nearest surface indication, where the first test-well site was selected in almost as haphazard a fashion. Drillers and field superintendents had met to make the location, and the area in which a spot was to be selected was generally determined, but with characteristic caution none would venture an opinion before the others as to what exact spot should be fixed upon. At last, one bolder spirit than the others, spoke up and said, ‘Well, boys, if it’s all the same to you, let’s put the well where that crow sits down,’ pointing at the same time to a crow which was flying about them. The crow alighted, the spot was marked, and the well drilled with remarkably successful results; it is still producing after eleven years. A flight of a hundred yards or so further to the eastward would have put the well beyond any hope of striking oil.” 

In 1914 and part of the year 1915 a well was drilled on Sec. 11-26-4-5. It was drilled by the National Oil and Gas Company and called Cochrane No. 1. They went to a depth of 1400 feet using standard cable tools. There are no records showing it produced gas or oil and the site was abandoned in 1915. 

CHAPS thanks our Content partners

In 2022, CHAPS developed several local partnerships we want to recognize.

CHAPS goal is to preserve and educate about important Cochrane and local history. These partners have done so much to help us accomplish this.

We are sincerely grateful. 

Urban Casual is a local resource for area news. They re-post our Saturday Stories and 100 Stories for 100 Years on social media. This has done a great deal to increase our reach. 


Blue Pixel is another local resource. They have assisted with the creation of our Virtual Museum Tour, installation of display monitors, and improving some of our old videos for social media.


Home Base, a local small business guide magazine, has published several of our articles including those previously published in Big Hill and More Big Hill Country.


CHAPS THANKS our local supporters

Wild cattle created bedlam in early days

by Gordon and Belle Hall, A Peep into the Past Vol. 1, pg 32

Every fall thousands of head of cattle were driven to the stockyards at Cochrane to be sold and shipped by rail to the buyer. They were weighed and brand recut here also. 

I can just imagine some of the poor souls that live here now, that can’t put up with train whistles, trying to cope with the bedlam when these cattle hit town; however, it wasn’t a bedroom town then, but a genuine working cow town. Charlie Mickle was one of the brand readers. The scale was covered over by a roof and they read brands and weight a carload at a time. A stock train would arrive from Calgary in the morning with about 40 cars. The engine stay with it all day, moving loaded cars along. There were two loading chutes, and they loaded two cars at a time. 

The Russell Hotel had a dining room which was a little more exclusive than the Chinese Cafe, and most of the ranchers and stockmen ate there. I always remember the Copithornes; they were big, powerful men. 


Getting the herds across the Bow River was always a problem. There was an old wooden bridge to start with, then in 1925, a new steel bridge was put across the Bow. Also, that was the same year the elevator was built and the Royal Bank came to town, taking over the Union Bank. Some outfits just swam their cattle across the river, while others put a quiet milk cow in the lead, and the herd would follow. 

Cattle were wild in the early days, as they had just come off the range, where there were very few people, only cowboys on horseback. I remember a Mr. McLennon, who bought the Merino Ranch from the Countess Bubna, brought in a herd to the stockyards; and his son, who was a cowboy and stockman, was crushed to death by a herd of steers in the stockyard pens. McLennon sold out soon after and moved away. 

Gradually trucks took over the cattle moving business. The stockyards are gone and most people in Cochrane do not know where they were situated. 

Another era of the old West has been phased out.

More Reading

Ralph and Carol Maier Family

By Carol Jean (Boyer) Maier pg 585 More Big Hill Country 2009

 Ralph was born in the Wayne Hospital, Alberta. His family lived at Willow Creek and he and his two sisters, Martha and Marlene, had a large playground around the HooDoos east of Drumheller. When Ralph was seven, the family moved to Cochrane, to the farm Sec 3 Twp 28 Range 4 W5M. The children walked to the Weedon School, located at the corner of NE Sec 22 Twp 27 Range 4W5M for September, it was closed due to a lack of students. They then were picked up by Mr. Wesley Wilson and went to Cochrane Lakes School until Christmas. In January 1944 they walked to the school bus stop which was half a mile away and went to Cochrane School. In 1953 Westbrook School opened and the means of transportation was either horseback or walk, the family lived too close to the school for the bus to pick them up. 

Ralph has been farming most of his teenage and adult life. In his teens he was on a threshing crew, supplying his own team, wagon, feed for his horses for $5.00/day. He took Agricultural Mechanics Course and Welding at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, drove into Calgary part of the time in a Model A. During the winters he worked out at many jobs: working for James Henderson, building roads, fencing in the Municipality, working on pipeline fall of 1960 around Rocky Mountain House. After that he started on with the rigs, G.P. in 1965, then Westbourne, working mostly in Northern Alberta drilling for gas and oil. If a drilling site was close to home he worked on it year-round, putting the crop in after his shifts and days off. One winter he was employed with Nabors drilling and the crew went to Japan to drill holes for geo-thermal for power plants. 

Carol was born in Broadview, Saskatchewan, and in 1959 our family moved to my Mom’s family ranch in the Cypress Hills, Maple Creek, Saskatchewan. After high school, I attended Business College in Medicine Hat, AB. I was employed for the Maple Creek School Unit for several years, and then my sister and I took off for Ottawa, Ontario. I worked in the Ottawa Public Library for 10 months, and on days off we were tourists, Expo 67, Montreal, New York and of course Ottawa! We came back west and on to Calgary. Worked for a furniture store in the office for a few years, and then took off for a tour of the world. I came back to Calgary and was able to get my job back at Ravvin’s, and worked there until I moved to the farm. 


Weedon School Courtesy Glenbow Archives NA 1098-3

Ralph and I met at a square dance club in Calgary and we were married in 1974. That fall we moved to the Cypress Hills, Maple Creek, Saskatchewan. For close to 4 years Ralph was travelling back and forth many times. Ralph’s Mom still had her chores, a few cows, pigs and chickens, which she loved doing and her huge garden. With our neighbour Buck Miller checking on her often and Ralph’s sister Marlene and daughter Leni living in Calgary, everything went well. 

We have 3 sons: Robert Douglas was born in Foothills Hospital, Calgary, Joseph Kent was born in the Maple Creek Hospital, and Gary John was born in the old Grace Hospital, Calgary. They attended Weedon Play School, Bob was in kindergarten in Cochrane, half days (bused only in the morning), Joe kept on at playschool, and Gary went to kindergarten at Westbrook, full-day, bused both ways. All 3 attended Westbrook School and Cochrane High School and were bused. 

In 1974 family and friends moved Ralph’s Mom into her “new” home, one that had been moved out of Calgary, in which she had running water and heat at all times. The old house had many memories for her, with a wood stove which had to be stoked, often in the winter. She did enjoy her new kitchen! We lived in a mobile home in the yard. Ralph’s Mom passed away in May 1982 and once again the month of May brought lots of snow. Ralph and I have carried on with the same garden plot that she had, but have cut down on the size by at least three-quarters. 

Our boys kept us busy with their activities: school, school sports, 4-H Beef Club, hockey, and Joe was in High School Rodeo, bull riding, and he won enough points in the Alberta finals two years in a row, that we got to go on two “holidays”. The first year was to Fallon, Nevada, and the next year to Gillette, Wyoming for the North American High School Finals. Also to Yorkton, Saskatchewan for Canadian High School Finals. Bob is a journeyman agriculture mechanic, working as a heavy-duty mechanic in Calgary. Joe is working as a welder, working towards a “ticket” in Olds. Gary is a journeyman millwright and works in many areas of Alberta. All have left home, but they help us out lots. 

Ralph and I are still farming on the place that Ralph’s Dad bought in 1943 and when his Mom saw it for the first time asked “Here, with all these rocks?” 

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields



In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

    That mark our place; and in the sky

    The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.


We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

        In Flanders fields.


Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

    The torch; be yours to hold it high.

    If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

        In Flanders fields.

More Reading

Names and photos of Cochrane Veterans

Beattie Family

By David J Beattie and Gloria H. (Beattie) Johnson Pg 286 More Big Hill Country

Thomas Leslie (Tom) Beattie was born in Carlisle, England on December 8, 1909, the middle son of David and Mary (Byers) Beattie. David Beattie was a shepherd who worked in the borders region of northern England and southern Scotland and their marriage certificate states that Mary worked as a confectioner’s assistant. Grandpa David died when Tom was about five and we believe Grandma Mary died a short time after. It appears that Tom’s two brothers, Robert, the oldest and John, the youngest, ended up on the west coast of Scotland, just south of Glasgow, possibly in an orphanage. For reasons unknown, it appears the Byers family, who farmed west of Carlisle, took in young Tom. Details are sketchy as Tom did not talk to his family about his childhood years. 

Under the auspices of the Salvation Army, Tom sailed to Canada in 1926 with the approval of his uncle, William Byers, whom the ship’s passenger list names as Tom’s guardian. Tom’s occupation on the ship’s list is shown as “messenger” which we learned means he delivered mail, likely on foot. These were years when Britain shipped thousands of youngsters to Canada and other parts of the Commonwealth as “British Home Children”. Canada accepted these children to increase the population but, frequently, the families who took them in treated them poorly and used them as cheap labour. By coming to Canada, Tom lost contact with his two brothers for over twenty years. Eventually, the Salvation Army helped Tom regain contact with Robert and John. They corresponded but Tom never saw either brother again. 

A farmer in the eastern townships in Ontario held Tom’s indentureship for two years until he was just past eighteen. Our research revealed he received a wage of $135 for the first year and $148 for the second. After completing his indentureship and repaying the Salvation Army for his passage to Canada, we think 

Tom ventured west to the Cochrane area in late 1928 or early 1929. He found work as a cowboy for local ranchers. David remembers him talking about McConaghies and McEwans having large ranching and farming operations. Tom was an adept horseman and put his skills at leatherwork and leather braiding to good use. Similar to American cowboys of that era, Tom carried a 44-40 lever-action rifle and a 44 Colt revolver. These both used the same ammunition making it less to carry. In 1933, the Canadian government abolished the carrying of sidearms. We do not know what became of either of Tom’s firearms. 

Tom worked for various ranchers and eventually, Kendrew’s sawmills became his employer in the mid to late 1930s. Logging and sawmills provided steady work during some of the depression years. 

Margaret Ida Kimeri (later, “Kimery”) was born in Moosomin, Saskatchewan on November 12, 1912. She was the youngest of nine children of Josef and Juliana Kimeri who had emigrated from Hungary in 1905. Margaret’s five older sisters were born in Hungary; one sister and two brothers were born in Saskatchewan. Margaret did not learn English until she started school. She grew up on the family farm west of Kennedy. Saskatchewan. She talked about the rope that connected the distant barn to the house. In the heavy blizzards or dust storms of the depression years, the rope would guide her between the two buildings to do her chores. She also talked about snaring gophers and magpies and receiving cash for their remains as part of her contribution to the family. 

Grandpa Josef died when Margaret was quite young and her brother, Louis, who had just completed his teaching certificate, died in the 1918 flu epidemic Both Grandpa and Grandma Kimeri are buried in the Bekavar Cemetery south of Kipling, Saskatchewan. Margaret left home after finishing school and lived with one of her sisters in Winnipeg where she graduated from business college. Her children remember she had beautiful handwriting and could take shorthand. 

Margaret came to Cochrane in the mid-1930s to help her older sister, Rose Watson, with her family and to find work during the depression. The family does not know how, when or where Tom and Margaret met. They were married in December 1937. 

Early in their marriage, Tom worked at the Kendrews sawmills located at Jumping Pound, Morley and northeast of what is now the Village of Waiparous. He was the steam engineer and rose very early to fire the boiler that generated steam to power all the sawmill machinery He was accomplished with an axe and saw and built several log cabins for his family and others living near

these sawmills. David remembers being quite young when Tom and he visited an old sawmill site. Tom was pleased to see that several cabins were still standing. Margaret and Tom embarked on life-long friendships at the mills with the Lathwells, Steeves and Grays, to name a few. 

Marion Margaret Beattie was born in October 1938 and spent her early years growing up around local sawmills. 

When World War II started, Tom tried to enlist but was ‘unfit for service’ because of punctured eardrums. It is possible his ears were “boxed” when he was a child. Tom would get quite upset when anyone slapped a child’s head and would remind them the child had a bottom” for disciplinary measures. 

By the early 1940s, there were German prisoner of war camps situated in the Kananaskis and Bow River valleys. The government considered the Ghost River power generating dam and station at risk from escapees and hired guards to protect operations at the dam. 

In October 1943, Andy Chapman, a Justice of the Peace, swore Tom in as a Provincial Constable. Tom received a Colt 45 revolver and began the night shift guarding the dam. Tom’s certificate, dated the same cay David Joseph was born in the General Hospital in Calgary, suggests Tom likely missed the arrival of his first son! 

The young Beattie family lived in a Calgary Power staff house below the Ghost dam and David remembers Margaret telling him she would place him outside in the baby buggy for daytime naps in the fresh air. However, one wet day she discovered bear tracks around the buggy, so David did not sleep outside again until the family moved to Cochrane in mid-1944. 

After WW II ended Tom went to work for Sam Peverell who owned the Cochrane Creamery. The Creamery bought and processed local milk and cream. The cream arrived from various farms in varying sizes of cream cans and in varying conditions. The cream quality or grade was determined by tasting it prior to pasteurizing and churning. Butter churned from the cream won several awards of excellence over the years. 

David remembers helping Tom with grading and one particular can which contained cream covered with mould. David was ready to mark an “X” for sour beside the farmer’s name. Tom said this was unacceptable and reminded David that penicillin came from the mould so he had David sample and taste the cream. It was bad and the farmer did get an “X” but Tom taught his son a lesson about doing things correctly. David still remembers some really foul-tasting cream and, even after a mouth rinse, the taste lingered on. David soon learned to take

very small samples and never to swallow any. 

There were still a few that received “X” if Tom was not supervising but David remembers the wonderful butter the Creamery shipped after the local cream was pasteurized and churned. Some cream was really sweet and Tom would bring samples of it home for whipping and accompanying hot gingerbread, cereal or garden-fresh fruit or berries. David doubts cream of that quality is available anywhere now. 

Another interesting, but sometimes dangerous, job at the Creamery was washing the milk and cream bottles. A bottle brush, mounted on the wall above the huge wash sinks, driven by an electric motor spinning at a furious speed. The operator really needed a good two-handed grip to put the glass bottles on, or pull them off, the washer. The danger was in losing one’s grip and allowing a bottle to get loose. Glass bottles did not fare well against all the steel and concrete in the Creamery. Once David was 12 years old, Tom deemed him capable of doing this job. 

One of Tom’s several duties for the Creamery was milk delivery throughout the village. Many people remember his melodic whistling as he walked from house to house. Delivering milk with Tom was a neat job but had its dangers too. Many people in Cochrane had a dog and certain dogs took real exception to the placing of milk bottles on their doorsteps. Defending oneself from dogs wanting to bite when both your hands were carrying glass bottles of milk was difficult, to say the least! A bottle of milk was a good weapon but Tom would not allow David to break a bottle over a dog’s head. The better defence came in the form of a leather quirt which Tom square braided. One end looped over the wrist and the other end featured four eight-inch cattails. Tom filled the square body of the quirt with a lead shot. If a flick with the cattails did not deter the annoying dog, then a clunk with the quirt handle did. Dogs would still growl about the milk delivery but kept their distance. 

Tom Beattie also worked at various jobs for the Town of Cochrane. Gloria remembers him changing the early street light bulbs with a long, wiggly pole which was challenging at the best of times and quite frustrating when the strong west wind was blowing. 

Another job Tom did for the Town was digging graves with Dewey Blaney. Dewey was the only “black” person in Cochrane at the time. He worked for John Boothby and was a friend to many of Cochrane’s children. However, Dewey would only dig graves until sunset, so Tom would take the night shift. David remembers Tom telling a story about one winter night at the cemetery. Dewey was digging the frozen ground 

Margaret Beattie and Family

and, just at dark, his shovel hit a coffin. Tom met Dewey racing down the hill to town at full speed. Tom laughed, saying all he could see was the whites of Dewey’s eyes as he went streaking by. The tracks in the snow at the graveyard told Tom that Dewey had jumped clear of the gravesite in one gigantic leap and had hit the ground running. 

Gloria Hazel Beattie was born in July 1945. Linda Mary Jane Beattie was born in September 1946. 

With a growing family, Margaret and Tom needed a larger house. Their small two-bedroom bungalow became a larger four-bedroom bungalow, complete with an earthen basement and a closed-in verandah or porch. Tom also built an indoor bathroom when the Town installed water and sewer facilities. The house expansions happened in stages as finances allowed. David was old enough to help with some of the additions. 

John Robert Thomas (Bob) Beattie arrived in November 1950. 

As David was now seven years old, he had several chores and responsibilities. The Beattie family’s source of heat was wood and coal. David sawed wood by hand with a hand-made crosscut saw, split kindling and wood with an axe and broke the coal into proper-sized pieces with a sledgehammer. Ashes from the kitchen stove and pot-bellied heater were spread on the garden and driveway. 

The Beatties pumped water into pails from a 45-foot hand-dug well. Tom or David transferred water to the large reservoir in the kitchen stove and, on bath days, to a round tub placed on the stove. When the water was hot, the tub was moved to the floor in front of the cook stove’s oven. Margaret’s order for bathing children would begin with Bob, followed by Gloria and Linda and then David. Older Marion had the luxury of her own bathwater. Margaret also hand-washed and rinsed all the laundry, including diapers, in tubs using a washboard which David still has. 

Margaret reprimanded David several times each winter. He could not resist convincing visiting city kids to lick the heavy frost off the cast iron water pump handle. A warm, moist tongue would always freeze to the pump handle. This seems cruel in retrospect but it was fun at the time. Margaret always came to the rescue with warm water to pour on the pump handle and free the hapless victim. The rest of the outdoor plumbing was David’s domain, as well, and involved emptying the slop pail under the sink and keeping the outdoor toilet clean. 

Water, sewer and natural gas arrived in Cochrane in the early 1950s. Like most residents, we hand-dug the ditches from the street to our house. Water and sewer lines required eight to ten feet of cover. David remembers 

being in the bottom of the ditch and filling a pail with earth and rocks. On top, Tom hoisted the pail to the surface with a rope tied to the handle. The wooden ladder was always beside David in case he needed to make a quick exit. 

Timothy Trent Beattie was born in October 1956. Hot and cold running water and indoor plumbing made life somewhat easier for Margaret especially when she became the proud owner of an electric washing machine complete with an electric wringer. And, David’s chores were reduced considerably. Margaret would still hang clothes outside to dry and, in winter, they would freeze solid. Imagine a five-foot by seven-foot bed sheet frozen solid like a sheet of plywood. Somehow, Margaret would manage to wrestle these from the clothesline outside into the kitchen and hang them on the overhead inside clothesline to dry by the heat of the stove. The smell of clothes drying in the kitchen is a very pleasant memory for the Beattie siblings.

Growing up, David remembers children made their own entertainment. Cochrane was small and closely knit. In summer, children of all ages played games in open lots or fields – scrub baseball, kick the can and run sheep run. In winter, activities included sledding, skating, tobogganing, building snow caves and tunnels in huge snowdrifts. 

Tom was an early member of the volunteer fire department when the brigade mechanized in about 1954. This crew fought many types of fires with an old Ford truck and pumping unit. 

Tom developed lung cancer in early 1958 and had surgery to remove all of one lung and part of the other. Radiation was unsuccessful and Tom Beattie passed away August 16, 1958, several months before his 48th 



birthday. It is hard to imagine the grief and stress Margaret faced with five children at home, aged two to fourteen. There was no life insurance, no salary and only a very small federal widow’s stipend with which to raise her young family. Three months later, David was diagnosed with cancer and underwent two surgeries and radiation treatment. This was very hard on Margaret and she dealt with even more stress when she learned that Tom’s younger brother, John, had also just passed away from lung cancer in Scotland. David was extremely fortunate that Dr. Robert Walker (later a renowned cardiologist) managed his surgeries and aftercare and, in time, David fully recovered. 

As the oldest, at 12, David tried to assist Margaret by assuming more responsibility for the family. He worked after school and weekends at many menial jobs in an effort to contribute financially to the family. Margaret babysat in her home and worked as a cashier at weekend movies shown in the Cochrane Community Hall. The Beatties always grew a large garden which helped feed the family. Like many prairie women of that era, Margaret surrounded her low-eaved house with delphinium beds and planted lilacs in her fence so she and her neighbours could enjoy the beautiful blooms every summer. 

Margaret volunteered at the Cochrane (later Nancy Boothby) Library for over 35 years. A voracious reader, Margaret usually ended her long day by sitting in a straight-backed chair at the kitchen table engrossed in a beloved book. Card parties in Cochrane and surrounding districts helped her stay in touch with friends and neighbours. The Beatties made occasional trips to Calgary by train and later, by Greyhound bus. It was a big event for the whole family when David bought his first vehicle in 1960, a 1957 blue Ford pickup. The five younger Beattie siblings completed grade twelve at Cochrane High School while Marion finished high school at Mount Royal College in Calgary. 

Marion had a long career with the Royal Bank and is now retired and living in British Columbia. 

David completed a Southern Alberta Institute of Technology apprenticeship as an interprovincial automotive mechanic at Cochrane Auto Service owned by Graeme Broatch. Later, during a career in Alberta’s oil and gas industry, he completed his Certified Engineering Technologist designation. He is now semi-retired and living near Cochrane. 

Gloria has had a long career with the Royal Bank and is still working and living in Cochrane. 

Linda graduated and worked as a Licensed Practical Nurse and now lives in Cochrane. 

Bob completed a SAIT apprenticeship and graduated 

as a journeyman carpenter. He is still employed in Alberta’s oil and gas industry and living in Swan Hills. 

Tim has had a long career at The Calgary Centre for Performing Arts where he is still working and lives in Calgary. 

Margaret moved from the original Beattie home on Fourth Avenue to the newer Glenbow neighbourhood in the early 1980s. For the first time, she had a newer home with central heating and an attached garage and it backed on to the Big Hill Creek. She sold this home in 1989 and moved to the Bethany Care Centre in Cochrane. In Margaret’s view, not having to do her own cooking, dishes and cleaning was okay. She suffered from dementia in her later years and passed away as a result of a stroke on January 12, 2000. Margaret was a widow for almost three times as long as she was married. She was buried beside Tom in the old section of the Cochrane Cemetery. 

Marion was married to Buster Fenton of the Bottrel area. Their children are Karen, Thomas (Tom), Laurie and Teresa. 

David is married to Ann Neilson of Cochrane. Their sons are Malcolm and Sean. 

Gloria is married to Fred Johnson of Westbrook. Their children are William (Bill) and Deborah (Deb). 

Linda was married to Vince Hoomana of Hawaii. Tanya is their daughter. 

Bob is married to Carmen Schuman of Strathmore and they have no children. 

Tim was married to Lynn Leppard of Calgary and they have no children. 

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2022 Presidents Message


This time last year, none of us could have predicted how much our world would have changed. The global COVID19 pandemic has left a trail of devastation in its wake and uncertainty as to its longterm consequences. In the midst of unpredictability, we have survived. These challenging times have tested our character, but we have not broken down. It has tested our perseverance, but we are still here. It has tested our small group of volunteers, and they are still strong

CHAPS is very lucky to have the support of an incredible group of volunteers. Even though our volunteer engagement didnt look like the same as it has in previous preCOVID years, one thing remained a constant: our volunteers are tremendously important to CHAPS’ success and permanence. I would like to sincerely thank all of you who have participated, engaged, supported, and inspired CHAPS

Advances in technology have made the Cochrane Historical Museum more accessible than ever. Physical experiences make our museum displays more memorable, but modern technology will make our visitors more aware of the displays. This technology has helped to support our administration functions, our collection management system and our visitor services. The CHM provides a sense of our town and surrounding community and a place for celebrating our collective heritage, offering a great way to know our local history and identity Thereby building connections that will sustain our community in years ahead

Growth and development are inevitable, but keeping a piece of the way we were is important for our heritage. CHAPS helps to achieve this goal. CHAPS operates with the belief that a firm knowledge of the past will create a brighter future

CHAPS is located in a historical building that contains a small manageable museum. Programs include travelling exhibits that visits schools and libraries, lecture series for kids, adults, walking tours of the town of Cochrane and much more. The CHM serves as an onsite resource centre where interested parties can explore local photographs, newspaper articles, history books and materials. This is simply a small overview of the existing things that CHAPS is involved with

There is much more to come next year. 

Larry Want


 Cochrane Historical & Archival Preservation Society

Get involved

Become a member

Alexander Gillies

by Bessie (Simpson) Harris pg 310 Big Hill Country 1977

Alexander Gillies and his wife, who had been Mary Gillies of Morar, came to the Cochrane district from Inverness-shire, Scotland, in October, 1884. With them they brought their six children, John, Jessie, Kate, Mary, Alexandrina and Duncan. Annie was born at Cochrane and a little son, Donald, died in infancy. Mary Gillies made her husband keep travelling west till they found hills that looked like those of Scotland. They were undoubtedly influenced, too, by the fact that A. W. McDonald, who was married to Alexander’s sister, had been in the district since 1881. They stayed with the McDonalds while they built a small shack by the spring on the Mount Royal picnic grounds. There they lived while building the log house close to the east bank of the Ghost River. Both Alexander Gillies and his

Mrs. and Mr. Alexander Gillies

son, John, homesteaded near the Ghost River and had, altogether, a section and a half of land. They raised both horses and cattle. This place has always been known as the Ghost River Ranch. 

One day Alexander was away getting outbuilding logs and his wife was alone with the small children. She had just taken a pan of scones out of the oven when a big Indian with a gun appeared at the door with two or three companions behind him. Naturally, she was frightened. The Indian [sic] pointed at the pan of scones so she put them in his sack. A couple of weeks later the Indian [sic] came back and brought her a beautiful set of buffalo horns. These were hung at the front of the ranch house. From then on, the Gillies and the Indians [sic] remained very good friends.

Gillies home : Ghost River L to R Don Simpson, Alex Simpson, Jim Murphy, Enie Gillies, Eva, Irene and Helen Murphy, Jim Simpson

Alexander Gillies died in 1922. Mary, with John and Annie, moved into Cochrane after the ranch was sold. They lived in the house built by Mr. Tesky for Joe Murphy. Mary Gillies died in 1935. 

The following was written in May 1922, by Hugh Farthing, an old friend of the family: 

“During the early days in the West, Alexander Gillies’ strong, courageous personality and straightforward dealing endeared him to the hearts of all with whom he came in contact. Friends and strangers alike 

John and Annie Gilliles (standing) Mr and Mrs Gillies, and Duncan

were always sure of a hearty welcome and true Highland hospitality at the Ghost River Ranch. 

“The little cemetery at Cochrane is a fitting resting place for such an old-timer as he. Far below, the silver thread of the Bow River winds its way through the wooded slopes of the foothills he loved so well, and in the distance the Rockies, majestic and unchanged as when he first saw them thirty-eight years ago, complete one of the most wonderful pictures in the world.” 

John remained a bachelor. Jessie married John McPhail and their children were Lawrence, Mamie, Wallace and Alice. Kate married Alvin Rellinger. They had five children: Mary, Herbert, Alice, Josie and Catherine. Mary married William Simpson. The Simpson children were: James, Donald, Alexander, Edward, William, Bessie, Duncan and Theresa. Mary Simpson died in 1969. Duncan married Josie Elliott. They had no children. Alexandrina married Roland Gissing. They, too, had no children. Annie remained single.

Mary and Katy Gillies

Related reading:

Cochrane Ranche Cattle Drives

Excerpt from thesis of D.E. Brown U. of A. 1951

In the spring of 1881, plans were made to purchase the first herd of cattle for the Cochrane Ranche. Major Walker was sent to Montana, where he obtained six thousand eight hundred head at an average price of eighteen dollars per head with the understanding that the Montana ranchers from whom they were bought would deliver them to the boundary. 

The I. G. Baker Company contracted to drive the cattle from the boundary to the Cochrane ranch for two dollars and fifty cents per head. Frank Strong, a foreman for the Baker Company, was in charge of the drive and was assisted by thirty cowboys with three hundred head of horses. In order to make as rapid a trip as possible, Strong divided the herd in two. The “dry” herd, consisting of steers, was sent ahead and was driven at the rate of fifteen or more miles per day. 

The second group made up of cows and calves, was moved more slowly although it often covered fourteen miles in a day, Kelly says that “this drive has remained the criterion for hard-driving, and no such great numbers of cattle have since been moved so rapidly by trail”. The number of wagons came along behind the herds to pick up the calves that had fallen from exhaustion, hundreds of cattle were left to perish along the way. The herds were pushed across the Bow River near the site of the present Mewata Park in Calgary and turned over to Major Walker and his men.

Several of the Baker cowboys remained to work for Major Walker and quite a number of the saddle horses were sold to the Cochrane Ranche Company. The Baker Company had contracted to brand the cattle before turning them over to Major Walker but had been unable to do so because of the speed with which the drive was carried out. As a result, the cattle were accepted after a hair brand and proper branding was to be given at the home ranch. It was late in the fall when the herd arrived, however, and branding was postponed until the following spring. Winter came on before the cattle had a chance to recover from the hard drive and, although it was not an unusually cold winter, many died. 

Hooves of History image

The drive and the effect of the winter on the herd provided valuable information to the cattlemen of the west on the relative endurance of the various breeds of cattle. Black Polled Angus cattle proved most sturdy, Herefords rated second and Shorthorns were the least hardy. In the spring of 1882, the hair brand that had been put on the cattle the previous fall disappeared with their winter coats. 

The Company directors ordered Major Walker to round up every unbranded animal on the Cochrane range and brand it with the Cochrane 11CH. Several settlers in the area assisted for a time but, when they found that their own unbranded animals that were on the Cochrane range were to be included in the round-up, they quit in a body. The settlers were incensed at the prospect of losing their own cattle and, in order to avoid financial ruin, they set to work searching for scattered groups of cattle that had been missed in coulees and ravines during the general round-up. Any that were found were taken home and branded with the settler*s own brand. Quite a number of cattle ended up with the wrong brand and It is not unlikely that the settlers came out with somewhat augmented herds. 

Major Walker had been hampered in his management of the ranch on several occasions by the necessity of obeying orders from the company’s office in the east or from Dr. McEachren, who was his immediate superior and also manager of the Walrond ranch further south. These orders were often ill-advised since they were not based on sound ranching experience nor in accord with the conditions existing on the ranch itself at the time. During a trip to Montana in the summer of 1882, Major Walker was forced to follow a course of action that he found entirely against his better judgment and as a result, he tendered his resignation. Major Walker had arranged for the purchase of four thousand three hundred head of cattle from the Poindexter and Orr ranch in Montana. The deal was temporarily suspended when Dr. McEachren arranged for the purchase of the new herd by the I. G. Baker Company. This Company was planning to stock an Alberta ranch for itself and Dr. McEachren felt that the Cochrane herd could be more profitably purchased in conjunction with the Baker herd. The arrangements were tentative and opposed by Major Walker. The Baker Company finally abandoned the idea and Major Walker returned to the Poindexter and Orr ranch to find that the price of cattle had risen in his absence. The herd cost twenty-five thousand dollars more than it would have if the deal had been completed earlier and valuable time had been lost. 

Major Walker. was so incensed that he sent in his resignation, to take effect when a successor could be found. Poindexter and Orr undertook to deliver the new herd to the Cochrane ranch at a cost of two dollars and seventy-five cents per head. Deliveries were to begin July 1, but several delays occurred and the herd did not arrive until October. Poindexter was in charge of the drive and found it necessary to move rapidly to avoid being caught by an early snowstorm. The plan failed. At Fish Creek, near the present Midnapore, the weary herd ran into a bitter snowstorm and could proceed no further. Poindexter wanted to hold the animals there for a month until they had recovered from the long drive and the snow cleared, but Major Walker, acting on orders from the east, insisted that delivery be carried out as soon as possible.

Poindexter obtained a number of hardy steers from nearby settlers and sent them ahead to break a trail through the snowdrifts. The exhausted Cochrane herd was forced along behind them. The cattle were turned over to Major Walker on October 20. Poindexter was an experienced rancher but had been forced to move the herd too fast owing to the delay in purchasing it and was later forced to continue the drive after the snowfall because of the orders from the Cochrane Ranche Company directors, however, the Company had begun to learn a lesson. In a contract with the I. G. Baker Company signed on September 5, 1882, the Cochrane Ranche Company agreed to pay forty dollars per head for some four hundred and fifty to five hundred and fifty head of three-year-old steers, at the same time specifying that the herd was to be delivered to the Cochrane ranch and the drive was not to occupy less than three weeks. 

On September 7, 1882, Frank White, a former railroad man and bookkeeper, arrived at the Cochrane ranch to assume the duties of treasurer. On October 7, Mr. W. D. Kerfoot, a Virginian and an experienced rancher, arrived to take charge of the livestock and replace Major Walker. Major Walker subsequently established a very successful lumber business in Calgary. The winter of 1882-83 was a disastrous one for the Cochrane ranch. The storm mentioned above lasted until October 13 and was followed by a slight thaw that softened the snow. This thaw was followed by a severe cold spell and a hard crust formed on the snow. The cattle found it impossible to reach the grass and drifted continually. The directors in the east were advised of the condition of the range and the lack of feed but insisted that the stock be held on the Cochrane lease.


Hooves of History image

Camps of cowboys were established at the mouth of the Fish creek, at Calgary and along Nose creek to hold the herd. The whole winter was spent in holding the starving herd on the home range. This blundering policy was followed in spite of the fact that there was excellent winter range at Blackfoot Crossing and the Little Bow where only a small amount of snow fell throughout the winter. The winter of 1881-82 had been rather mild and the Cochrane herd had come through it without serious losses. As a result, no preparation had been made for the following winter. No hay had been put up and no one seems to have considered the possibility of a hard winter and the disastrous effect that such a winter would have on the cattle. The inability of the local manager to follow his own initiative compounded the disaster.

The extent of the losses of Cochrane cattle was not fully appreciated until June 1883, when the snow finally disappeared. Kelly, describing the Cochrane losses, says, “Dead bodies were heaped in every coulee, thousands of head having perished. Some of the long ravines were so filled with carcasses that a man could go from the top to the bottom, throughout its entire length, and never have to step off a dead body.

Indians made a very good wage for some time, skinning the animals for twenty-five cents each. Out of the twelve thousand head that had been purchased and placed on the Cochrane range, there remained now but a scant four thousand, counting natural increase.”  Other ranches in southern Alberta suffered but a fraction of the losses of the Cochrane Ranche chiefly because of a more practical policy of letting the cattle drift to areas where they could graze. 

In 1882 the Cochrane Ranche Company started a butcher shop in Calgary as a retail outlet for their beef. A camp was established at Nose Creek to hold the cattle for this shop and also to supply the beef required to fill the North West Mounted Police contract. About twenty steers a month were sold from this camp. Another camp at the Sarcee reserve supplied the twenty-five head per month required to feed the Indians there.

There were two other camps as well, one at Blackfoot Crossing, which supplied one hundred and thirty head per month to the Blackfoot Indians, and a second one at Morleyville, where twenty head of cattle were required each month for the Stoney. 

In the spring of 1883, the directors of the Cochrane Ranche Company decided that the winters in the area west of Calgary were too rigorous and a new lease was taken up in the Waterton Lakes area, southwest of Macleod. This new ranch was made up of land taken over from the ’’Rocky Mountain Cattle Company” and the ’’Eastern Township Ranch Company”,

Related Reading

History of Mathew Henry Cochrane

Excerpt from D.E. Brown's U. of A. Thesis 1951

In 1872, in an effort to encourage the settlement and development of western lands, the Dominion Government passed the first land act providing for the granting to settlers of the land adjacent to their farms for grazing purposes. This act was broadened in 1876 to allow for the granting of leases to anyone. Tracts of land, generally not in excess of one hundred thousand acres, could be leased by individuals or companies at the rate of one cent per acre per year. In the early history of ranching in southern Alberta, the strongly organized and heavily capitalized ranching companies greatly overshadowed the individually owned ranches. 

Generally, English or Eastern Canadian capitalists formed a ranching company, subscribed to the capital investment, took up an extensive lease, purchased a large herd of cattle in the United States to stock the lease and launched a large-scale ranching enterprise in a short time. Individual ranchers, on the other hand, were often hampered by a lack of capital and were forced to expand much more slowly. The great ranching companies gave the industry a tremendous impetus at its very outset and had very soon established an economically sound foundation for the future development of ranching in southern Alberta. 

The Cochrane Ranche Company (limited) whose holdings lay in the area under consideration, was the first of these great ranching companies. The Company was incorporated by the Dominion Government on May 14, l88l, although it had been formed sometime earlier. Senator M. H. Cochrane was President and his son, W. F.  Cochrane, was manager. The company also included Hugh MacKay, merchant, William Lawrence, manufacturer, William Cassils, Gentleman, William Ewing, seedsman, and Charles Cassils, manufacturer, all of the city of Montreal. It was capitalized at five hundred thousand dollars. Major James Walker, a former North West Mounted Police inspector, was appointed local manager and Dr. D. M. McEachren was made resident general manager.

Tom and Lady Adela Cochrane were neighbours from Mitford and not associated with the Cochrane Ranche.

Senator M. H. Cochrane, its founder, was the driving personality behind the Cochrane Ranche Company. Mathew Henry Cochrane was born at Hillhurst Farm, Compton, Quebec, in 1823. He took an early interest in farming, but at the age of eighteen, he went to Boston and established a leather business. In 1854 he returned to Canada and, in partnership with Cassils and Company of Montreal, opened a boot and shoe factory. By 1888 this business had a gross yearly income of half a million dollars. 

It was however as a successful breeder of improved grades of cattle that he was best known. In this respect, his reputation was worldwide. In 1864 he purchased Hillhurst Farm from his father and three years later obtained the services of Simon Beattie, an outstanding judge of cattle, as farm manager and adviser. With the help of Simon Beattie, Mr. Cochrane set out to secure the best Shorthorn cattle that could be bought.

In 1867 he purchased two outstanding animals in Britain – the famous cow “Rosedale”, who had no peer in the English show rings, and ’’Baron Booth of Lancaster”, a bull calf. “Rosedale” attained a greater celebrity than has ever been achieved by any cow on this continent. She was the sensation of every show.

“Baron Booth” subsequently passed into the hands of a cattle breeder in Illinois and his record as a show animal and a sire brought about a revolution in the Shorthorn industry of the United States mid-west.

In 1868, Mr. Cochrane imported the first of the famous “Bates” cattle into Canada. There were eleven head, and one of them, “Duchess 97th”, cost a thousand guineas, the highest price that had ever been paid for a cow. “Duchess 97th” was later sold to a New York breeder for a record seventeen thousand nine hundred dollars. From then on Mr. Cochrane carried on a campaign of importing the best English Shorthorns and selling them on this continent. 

There seems to have been no shrewder dealer in Shorthorns during the history of this breed of cattle. In 1882 Senator Cochrane abandoned the breeding of Shorthorns for a time and went into Aberdeen-Angus and Hereford cattle, importing some of the finest specimens of these breeds then available. He also imported choice lots of Southdown, Cotswold, Leicester and Lincoln sheep. A number of excellent Suffolk horses and Berkshire pigs were also brought to Canada. Senator Cochrane’s contribution to the improvement of Canadian, and United States, livestock cannot be overestimated. He had the courage, and the money, to buy the best animals. 

He was a pioneer in this field and his purchases made available to this continent’s livestock breeders the finest breeding stock of the period. He was called to the Senate in October 1872. Besides his interests in livestock, the boot and shoe factory and the Cochrane ranch, he was a vice president of the Eastern Townships Bank, a governor of the Sherbrooke Protestant Hospital, a trustee of Bishop*s College, Lennoxville, and a member of the Council of Agriculture in Quebec, Senator Cochrane died in 1903.  

I'd always assumed that since the cattle operations of the Cochrane Ranche was so short, it was due to the inexperience of the owners. Not entirely true. Cochrane had considerable experience in different conditions.

Mark Boothby - nephew of D.E. Brown Tweet

There seems to have been no shrewder dealer in Shorthorns during the history of this breed of cattle. In 1882 Senator Cochrane abandoned the breeding of Shorthorns for a time and went into Aberdeen-Angus and Hereford cattle, importing some of the finest specimens of these breeds then available. He also imported choice lots of Southdown, Cotswold, Leicester and Lincoln sheep. A number of excellent Suffolk horses and Berkshire pigs were also brought to Canada. Senator Cochrane’s contribution to the improvement of Canadian, and United States, livestock cannot be overestimated. He had the courage, and the money, to buy the best animals. 

He was a pioneer in this field and his purchases made available to this continent’s livestock breeders the finest breeding stock of the period. He was called to the Senate in October 1872. Besides his interests in livestock, the boot and shoe factory and the Cochrane ranch, he was a vice president of the Eastern Townships Bank, a governor of the Sherbrooke Protestant Hospital, a trustee of Bishop*s College, Lennoxville, and a member of the Council of Agriculture in Quebec, Senator Cochrane died in 1903  

Gilbert Ranch 1950 formerly Cochrane Ranche

The only original Cochrane Ranche buildings are the house and barn against the rock face on the hill-side.

More Reading

Elizabeth Barrett: First Woman Teacher in Alberta

by Madeline Freeman pg 89 Big Hill Country 1977

Tall prairie grasses screen a neglected cemetery plot on the Stoney Indian Reserve in the foothills of the Rockies. One of the headstones marks the grave of Miss Elizabeth Barrett, a gently-reared schoolma’am who, at the age of fifty years, ventured across the trackless plains in 1875, to take her place in Western Canadian history as a pioneer missionary teacher who was one of the signers of the famous Treaty No. 7 at Blackfoot Crossing. 

Elizabeth Barrett was a teacher in Orono, Ontario. When the Rev. George McDougall stumped up and down Eastern Canada in 1874, raising money and helpers for mission outposts in the West, Miss Barrett answered the call. 

She alternately shivered and sweltered in June and July of 1875, as the wagons jolted over the endless plain for five weeks of primitive travel. On arrival at Prince Albert, the party transferred to the York boats on the North Saskatchewan and made their slow passage upstream to Fort Edmonton. Here she again climbed aboard a prairie schooner. Her final stop was Whitefish Lake, the stockaded mission of the Cree missionary, Rev. Henry Steinhauer. 

Elizabeth needed the white heat of missionary zeal to sustain her over that first year in the great lone land. In January of 1876, she writes: 

“As regards myself, I thank God I can say by His Word and by His Grace, I am living and growing. Only for the sustaining strength of these, I think existence itself to me here would be unendurable … 

“As for letters, I have never received one from Ontario since last June, nearly seven months ago. I have written again and again, and am confident that my friends have done the same, but for some reason the letters have failed to reach here . . . seven long months and not a word from home.” 

Elizabeth Barrett talks about her work with the Indians in that same letter: 

“My not understanding the language has been the greatest drawback to my usefulness among the people. Just think, dear Sir, for a moment, of my position. Here I am surrounded entirely by Crees, speaking Cree always among themselves, almost without exception. I find the Indians’ hearts cannot be reached except through their own language. Kindness will win their favour and esteem… but their hearts … no, not till you approach that citadel through the avenue of their own language can you find entrance.’ 

Fellow missionaries subsequently reported that Elizabeth won the Indian’s love as she broke through the language barrier. Her homesickness gave way to enthusiasm. When Rev. Steinhauer despaired of raising enough money for a desperately-needed new church, Miss Barrett contributed the princely sum of one hundred dollars from her meagre earnings. 

She lived in a rough frame building with a clay floor and windows made from stretch-dried hides. When the hunters were unsuccessful in bitter weather, the precarious food supply dwindled to nothing but pemmican, rabbits, fish, even incubating eggs. 

The plucky teacher stifled her loneliness as she fought physical cold and monotony but she couldn’t overcome her longing for the refinements of the life she had left behind. On receiving some magazines she writes: 

“But to me here now, in this lone land, there was a deeper interest attached to them (the magazines) than ever before. I confess that never had pictures such charm for me as I now find in gazing on the many lovely forms and faces in those illustrated papers we received last month. It seems to bring me back again into refined and cultivated life, at least for the moment.” 

Elizabeth Barrett left Whitefish Lake early in 1877 to join the Rev. John McDougall and his family at Morleyville in the foothills of the Rockies. Once again she faced the hardships of prairie travel before the days of roads and bridges. Travelling south to Fort Edmonton and then taking the Blackfoot Indian Trail, the party made camp each night in coulees that would give them shelter from the bitter winds of the prairie winter. 

At the new mission, Miss Barrett coped with a new language, that of the Stoney Indians. She again experienced the hardships and discomforts of a frontier mission. But she was now tougher in body and spirit, and, working with the magnetic John McDougall she experienced the challenge of those earliest days in southern Alberta. 

The last great historical pageant of the West was held at Blackfoot Crossing in September of 1877, and a full party from Morleyville made the long trip for the occasion. The Rev. John McDougall was anxious that his Stoney Indians be given equal treatment with their natural enemies, the powerful Blackfoot when Treaty No. 7 was signed between the Government of Canada and the Indians of the southwest prairies. 

Rev. McDougall pitched his camp on the north side of the Bow River with the Stoney and Cree encampments. From her tent, Miss Barrett looked across to the orderly tents of the Mounted Police and the white tents of the Treaty Commission, pitched on the south side. Hundreds upon hundreds of Blackfoot lodges spread through the valley, and the preparation of meat, tanning of hides, the singing and the feasting went on, uninterrupted. On the hillsides, 15,000 or more horses of the Blackfoot grazed untethered. The fully-armed Indians were resplendent in smoke-tanned war shirts trimmed with ermine or fringes of otter and fox. Intricate beadwork adorned their moccasins and headdresses. Thick shields of buffalo hide were as gaily painted as their teepees in the valley. If trouble erupted here, the Blackfoot Confederacy had all the advantages. 

Elizabeth Barrett 1882-1893 Image courtesy Glenbow Archives

But the one hundred and eight officers and men of the Mounted Police were accepted as representatives of the Great White Mother’s authority. The signing of the treaty took several days and Elizabeth Barrett took her place in Western history when she signed her name to the document as one of the official witnesses. 

In 1878, John McDougall sent Miss Barrett to Fort Macleod to open a Methodist Mission and School. Accompanied by Gussie McDougall, daughter of the Rev. John’s first wife, she forded challenging rivers such as the Ghost, slithered in the mire and slept on grass saturated with rain as they travelled the open prairies to her new post. Unprepared for the lusty life of the Fort, she looked askance at the thirsty freight cadgers and gamblers who rolled through the swinging doors of the saloons. But she concentrated on the business at hand, and it is recorded that the children of the famous scout, Jerry Potts, were among those on her school register. 

Miss Barrett continued teaching at Macleod and then again at Morleyville until 1885 when she returned to Ontario for a well-earned furlough. She could not be persuaded to remain in the East and she returned to the mission in the shadow of the Rockies where she gave two more years of devoted service. When she became ill she was nursed by the McDougall family and died at their home on February 7, 1888. 

There is peace in the cemetery overlooking the old church at Morley, but the brown-eyed susans and tall grasses have started to encroach on the old headstones. 

Elizabeth Barrett was one who treasured the elegancies and refinements of life as she wrestled with this raw, new land. 

NOTE: Mrs. Pat (Madeline) Freeman of Toronto, Ontario, is a great-great niece of Elizabeth Barrett. 

Barrett’s death is listed in the article as 1893 and by her relative, the author as 1888.

Don and Dorothy Edge – Bar 50 Ranch

pg 413 More Big Hill Country 2009

Looking back, I often remember the day I first took notice of a tall cowboy handing out prizes at the Ghost River Pony Club’s first Annual Gymkhana and Horse Show held at Agness Hammond’s Ghost River Ranch. The year was 1948 and my Shetland pony, Stardust, and I placed in one of the classes. The tall cowboy was Donald Edge and he handed me a prize and a ribbon. I was eight years old; he was nineteen. My prize was a storybook about a horse named Chocolate. 

Donald John Leigh was born February 12, 1929, the second of five children born to Clem and Peggy Edge, who ranched in the Beaupre district nine miles northwest of Cochrane. After attending school at Beaupre Creek and Cochrane, Don completed his education at Olds School of Agriculture, graduating in 1949. He then worked three years for Calgary Power Ltd., at their Ghost Dam Plant and often rode his horse, Desmond, to and from work. By 1953 he was working for the Alberta Department of Agriculture as a brand inspector at the Calgary Stockyards. Later he went to Banff and spent summers working for Brewster Mountain Pack Trains as head guide and superintendent handling pack trips for the Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies. The majestic mountains and valleys in their flowered splendour were Don’s paradise.

Don spent nine winters schooling polo ponies: seven at the Santa Barbara and Palo Alto polo fields in California for Pat Linfoot and two at Boca Raton, Florida, for Leo Hulseman, an ardent polo player. Leo was the founder and owner of the Solo Cup Company in Illinois. Good polo players are a cross between a jockey, a dressage rider, and a cowboy. While playing a few practice chukkers with Will Rogers Junior at Will Rogers State Park in the Pacific Palisades, California, Don observed the rustic fireplace in the late Will Rogers’s ranch house and patterned ours after it. 

While in the U.S. Don found time to travel with Gene Holter’s Wild Animal Show, headquartered in Anaheim, California, featuring racing camels and ostriches. They had everything from monkeys to elephants. Don helped with the demonstrations when the camels and ostriches came to the Calgary Horse Show one year. When he fed an orange to an ostrich you could see the round lump sliding down inside its long bare neck. 

I was born March 16, 1940, the second of three children born to Dave and Ellen Bryant, who operated a mixed farm in the Grand Valley district northwest of Cochrane. I started school in 1946 riding Stardust the two miles to Chapelton/Horse Creek School along with my brother, David, and our cousins, the Pattersons. The winters in the early 1950s were cold and harsh with large snowdrifts on the roads. Our Dads, Dave Bryant and Don Patterson, often rode partway with us, each carrying a scoop shovel over their shoulder to dig a single file pathway so we could ride through the crusted snowbanks. By the time my sister, Lillian, started school, we were travelling on Chet Baldwin’s bus to the new consolidated Westbrook School built-in 1953 on the west side of Highway 22 some 15 miles north of Cochrane. 

When I graduated from Grade Twelve at Westbrook in 1958, Don was operating the horse rental corral at Lake Louise for Brewsters. He had hired my cousin, Bill Ullery, as ponyboy and recruited me to work for his friends, Floyd and Lillian Smith, at the Lake Agnes Teahouse up by the Big Beehive Mountain. All the groceries arrived there by packhorse and the food was cooked on a wood-burning stove. One menu choice was coffee or tea with three fresh hot baking powder biscuits served with butter and liquid honey. People loved it. That was the greatest summer. I made more money in tips than wages. The tourist season ended with a staff appreciation night in the Chateau Lake Louise ballroom with an orchestra playing the big band sound. I didn’t know it then, but that evening I was dancing with my future husband. At Christmastime, Don dropped by our house with a present for me. The gift was a beautiful gold and silver watchstrap handcrafted by his friend Steve Cody, a Canmore silversmith. I was thrilled. The next day, I found a cute Christmas card, signed it, and addressed it to Mr. D. Edge, Cochrane, Alberta. Well, David Edge received the card and he kidded me about it for years. 

In May of 1959, the Department of Northern Affairs and the Northwest Territories Council agreed to permit buffalo hunting north of the Wood Buffalo National Park. Claude Brewster obtained an outfitter’s licence and instigated Brewster Buffalo Hunts and recruited his right-hand man, Don, who became the first white man to be issued a guide’s license to guide persons hunting the exclusive wood bison in Canada’s remote northland. Don’s sister, Edith, went along as a camp cook. Thirty trophy hunters signed up for a five-day hunt the first year at a cost of $550 each. Carrying their guns, they flew out of Edmonton to Fort Smith, staying overnight at the Pine Crest Hotel. The next day, in a floatplane that held four hunters, bush pilot Pat Carey flew them to Le Grande Detour campsite beside the Slave River. The buffalo hunting venture lasted three years until anthrax broke out in the herds and the Federal Government discontinued the trophy hunting expeditions. New York businessman, Charlie Stoll, bagged an animal in 1961 that measured second, at that time, for the record by the Boone and Crockett Club. Charlie’s photographer made a 38-minute wildlife video that we enjoyed showing visitors and folks at bison conventions. 


After completing a Comptometer course and attending night school at Henderson’s Business College in Calgary in February 1959, I landed a job with Socony Mobil Oil Canada, Ltd., working in the steno’ pool, as they called it. I was eighteen and making $219 per month. While participating in Mobil’s Pegasus Club, I discovered some very good musicians were working for the company. I recruited twelve people and we started a country and western band and entertained in the Mobil Tower lobby during Stampede Week. Talk about fun! We were called “The Dry Hole Drillers’ (we weren’t a very successful outfit). We played at many functions including United Way campaigns and once played for the Zoological Society at Heritage Park. Over the years, I worked in several different Mobil departments and became the Administrative Assistant for the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Arne Nielsen. When he retired, I was asked by Mobil to work for Bobby Kimberlin, President of the newly formed Hibernia Management and Development Company to be headquartered in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Four Calgary-based companies owned the new company with Mobil owning the biggest percentage. This was a joint venture project whose mandate was to construct and operate the Hibernia offshore drilling and production facility at a location 200 miles east, southeast from Newfoundland, in the formidable North Atlantic, iceberg alley. I went to St. John’s to help restructure Mobil’s former East Coast office and set up the new company. My assignment with the Hibernia project was the highlight of my 32-year career with Mobil Oil Canada, Ltd., now ExxonMobil Canada. Time Magazine recognized the magnitude of Hibernia, calling it one of the eight wonders of the modern world. Both Bobby and I were retired before the first barrel of oil was extracted from the Hibernia field in 1997. I retired in 1990 but kept busy doing volunteer work. 

I helped five authors produce books: Included are Jack Fuller’s Red Saddle Blankets (one of seventeen books printed in 1980 to commemorate Alberta’s 75th Anniversary); Leonard Friesen’s Cows, Cowboys. Cattlemen, and Characters, and Roundup of Memories Pierre Macullo’s 45 Years in Canada; and Wilf Britton’s millennium project The Life and Times of Wilf Britton. 

I enjoyed being the secretary-treasurer for the Ghost River Pony Club for some 20 years and enjoyed being the secretary for the Beaupre Community Association for 12 years. Don served a time as president of both organizations. 

When Donald and I were married, March 12, 1966, he was again employed as a brand inspector at the Calgary Stockyards. Meanwhile, he was raising Thoroughbred horses and Black Aberdeen Angus Hereford cross cattle, black baldies. His stallion, Tip 

The Cap, was a beautiful chestnut. Don’s horse and cattle brands were (DM, left thigh) and (DM Bar, left rib), respectively. His grandfather, Donald Campbell Morrison, a pioneer to the country in 1887, initially registered these brands. In 1972 we built a house and settled down on the home place of his parents Bar 50 Ranch Sec 21 Twp 26 Range 5 W5M and SW Sec 27 Twp 26 Range 5 W5M. Later, Don also operated a business he called “Agricultural Enterprises” doing custom haying and combining. 


Our first summer grazing area for our cattle was in the Bow Crow Forest Reserve north of the Bar C Ranch in the Burnt Timber region. Sheep Meadow Mountain stood stately in the background. It was a long haul and we trucked our cattle in and out over the dusty Forestry Trunk Road, now Highway 40. There were some 14,000 acres of wilderness with drift fences everywhere and no shortage of muskeg. The forested area had several large meadows with grazing along the trails. We loved riding there as the cowbirds (initially buffalo birds) would land on our horses’ rumps and ride along with us. We used a packhorse to carry salt to the salt licks. We often stayed overnight in our little green cabin that was surrounded by a thirty-acre holding pasture. One night a mouse ran under my neck and got tangled in my long hair. I flew out of bed screaming. I told Don a mouse attacked me. He said, “Oh, I thought a grizzly got in here.” We rode most weekends until the dirt bikers invaded the scenery. Finally, we hired a cowboy, Jim Kewley, to range ride for us during the week. He had a string of horses that he was breaking for Dr. Rowe, our dentist, and wanted to put some miles on them. One day he told us about meeting some bikers. They wanted to know where the best trails were, so he told them Manitoba. 

During the fall harvest, October 6, 1969, at two o’clock in the afternoon, Don lost the fingers on his right hand in a combined accident. He was unplugging the straw buncher attachment when his glove got caught, jerking his hand into the hammer mill type mechanism. The safety guard stopped him from being pulled in further. Our good friend and neighbour, rancher Jim Kerfoot, whose field they were combining, drove Don in the fuel truck to Graham’s Pharmacy in Cochrane to get nurse Alice Graham to bandage his hand while Jim went to borrow a car from Graeme Broatch’s Texaco Garage. Alice couldn’t reach the bandages on the top shelf so she jumped up and knocked them flying all over the place. Rushing, she kindly took care of things. Within a flash, Jim showed up at the drugstore door driving Graeme Broatch’s brand new car and away they went to the Foothills Hospital in style. Jim told me, later, that he’d been all through WWII and he’d never seen a tougher man. Don seemed to have a high tolerance to pain; he didn’t say anything, but it was a sad time in our lives. He was up and dressed early every morning visiting the rest of the people on the ward with similar accidents. After five amputation operations, Don retained 50 percent of his hand’s working ability. Luckily, he always shot left-handed, but it did end his polo game. When people asked him how he was managing, he’d say: “Fine, but I am working a little short-handed.” 


Our ranching business was a cow-calf operation; however, we started raising plains buffalo in 1976. Our first two buffalo cows were purchased at the Odd and Unusual Management sale and were originally from Al Oeming’s Game Farm at Sherwood Park, Alberta. Unlike those in the Territories, ours were somewhat domesticated. These two animals arrived at the Calgary Stockyards in December when Don was at the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City hosting Canada Rides Tours. A ‘surprising’ telephone call from the yards related that Don’s buffalo were in and to hurry in here and pick them up. “You’re calling the wrong Edge,” I said, “They’re not ours.” The caller informed me that indeed they were Don’s and that he wanted them removed immediately because they were knocking down all the pens. I phoned Don and he quickly explained, “Yes, they’re ours, calm down, don’t worry, just tell them I’ll pick them up when I get home,” which he did. Next, we purchased a big bull that came from Wyoming. In 1984 this amorous buffalo decided to tour the countryside, headed north, made it down the main street of Crossfield and across the ball diamond into the cemetery before the authorities managed to tranquillize him so we could haul him home. His picture made the front page of the Edmonton Journal one morning and my Mobil boss, then, Neil Blackburn, placed the newspaper on my desk and asked if this was my buffalo. I said, “No, it’s Don’s.”

Then there was the sacred buffalo. God bless her. She was having trouble calving and our nephews, Terry and Marty Edge, cousins, brought her in from the field and put her in the chute. While the boys pulled the little lifeless orange calf, Don put a yellow tag in the cow’s ear. He opened the crash gate on the front of the chute and then slapped her on the rump. She popped out of there, doubled back around, hooked him, and tossed him up higher than the chute. She managed to knock him out and get a few more jabs in that lacerated his forehead. As I was driving him to the Foothills Hospital he kept telling me “the crash gate must have hit me.” I said, “No, the boys tell me your buffalo cow had you cornered. They rescued you.” This scary episode led to the discovery of Don’s early-stage lung cancer, which was averted for six and a half years. 


For many years, we attended the Canadian and American Bison Conventions. One good quality offspring, sired by a huge bull we sold to US buyer Tony Heim, won an honour at the Gold Trophy Buffalo Show and Sale in Denver, Colorado. Because of the sire’s huge size, after using him as a herd bull for two years, Tony put him on display as a tourist attraction in Bear Butte State Park, South Dakota. Don had a great love for these majestic animals. We both loved and promoted buffalo meat. I can’t say as I ever enjoyed a thrilling buffalo chase, though. We got many folks started in the business. We mainly sold the breeding stock and our markets were in North and South Dakota and Saskatchewan until BSE curtailed shipments, at which time we decided to get out of the business. Thanks to Scott McCaffrey, our hired hand, for selling the remainder as organic meat, my herd now consists of a buffalo pin collection. I don’t have to feed or chase them. Guess I’m still a buffalo gal at heart! 

When the former Cowboys’ Protective Association was incorporated on July 15, 1945, Don was the 431st cowboy to join. Today it’s known as the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association and Don was declared a Gold Card Life Member in 1974. In his younger days for fun and excitement, he competed in steer decorating, wild cow milking, and wild horse race events. He was also a chuckwagon outrider for Gordon Dingwall’s outfit. He judged many “Little Britches“ and “All Girls” rodeos. Don enjoyed working with the Cochrane Lions rodeo crew for some 30 years handling various arena jobs. Oftentimes, in his earlier days, he was a pickup man and used his horse, Tom, for that job. Next, he along with Doug Rodgers worked the calf and bulldogging chutes. Don was one of the 18 founding members of the Canadian Rodeo Historical Association and served on the selection committee. which inducts qualifying individuals and/or animals into the Canadian Professional Rodeo Hall of Fame. Don was the Wagon Master for the successful “Hooves of History 1990 Cattle Drive,” the big fundraising event staged by CRHA to promote the Western Heritage Centre. 

With Don, life was never dull. He always referred to our little team of Thoroughbreds, Flash and Dandy, as the girls, the sweethearts, or his little darlings. He and his retired warden friend, Mac Elder, took them along with the fancy black carriage to the 1993 Grey Cup Parade in Calgary. It was a cold day as they were hooking up and the sweethearts were lively. Mac said. “Don, you better be careful.” “You worry too much.” was the reply. As Don attempted to put on his ‘brand new souvenir red and white Grey Cup coat,’ while standing beside the carriage, the lines slackened and the horses made a fast getaway down through the stage ing area. Some experienced guy down the line stopped them, but not before the carriage was somewhat dilapidated. Don was about half frozen when he got home and told me he’d had a wreck: “Them little pair of “bitches’ ran away on me today!”

In 1964, Don joined the Calgary Stampede as a volunteer, became a shareholder in 1970, and a Senior Associate in 1971. For 18 years he worked in the Stampede infield calculating scores for the rough stock events and discharging livestock for the timed events. He also served on the Calgary Horse Show Committee for 25 years. As a devoted member, Don always helped organize the Stampede Parade Section honouring the Southern Alberta Pioneers and Their Descendants. This is a unique organization; you have to be born into it. Each year honorary dignitary members are chosen to climb aboard the old-time buggies and participate in the Calgary Stampede Parade. Don was Pioneer Son in 1967 and was the Honorary Pioneer Gentleman in 2001, and I was Honorary Associate in 2003. Consistently, he also worked with the Downtown Street Attractions daily mini-parades using 15 old-time rigs and some 30 head of horses strung out a block-long transporting Stampede visitors through the streets of downtown Calgary. This one-hour five-mile tour is one of the nicest free things the Calgary Stampede does to welcome visitors. Don’s tenure volunteering at the Calgary Stampede spanned 42 years. 

As a founding director of the Cochrane Lake Gas Co-op, Don served on the Board of Directors from 1973 to 2007. He helped plan and install gasification in the Cochrane rural area and was the director in charge of rural Tap 3 northwest of Cochrane. In the early stages of the Gas Co-op’s mandate, directors were like ‘staff’ and this included Chairman Garnet Ovans. Don always told the story about the freezing cold day they helped unload rolls and rolls of plastic pipe from boxcars, some 300 miles of orange-coloured Dupont gas pipe! They stockpiled it where the Nan Boothby library is situated today. In 1976, on our ranch property, they started plowing in gas lines. Don was presented with a plaque from the Gas Co-op in recognition and appreciation as a founding director in March 2006. 

In 1973, Don was one of the 50 founders of the Cochrane and District Agricultural Society. He served on the directorship for 34 years, serving as president for 18 of those years. I, too, served as a director for several years. The Society’s first president was Nellie Spicer. One of the Ag. Society’s claims to fame is the fact that it brought horse racing back to Cochrane for five years in the early 1980s while operating at Griffin Park under the direction of President Jack Hawkwood, 

a Bearspaw dairyman. He and director Bill Short were avid racehorse enthusiasts and they obtained a Racing Charter for the Ag. Society. When the races were on, we needed half the town as volunteers. Don was the paddock judge and I worked in the pari-mutuels. One day when the races were over, I was closing my pay window so I could balance my payout sheet when all of a sudden a hand shoved in two tickets and a mumbled voice ordered “pay-me-now.” Looking at the tickets in a slight panic, I determined they were not winners. I looked up and the tall cowboy, my husband, laughing, had just picked them up off the ground!” In June 2007, a very nice tribute was extended to both of us, when Ag. Society President Duncan Stewart and fellow directors presented me with a plaque in appreciation of our volunteerism, 1973-2007. 

On the day of the grand opening of the Cochrane Ranche Historic Site, May 21, 1979, Don enjoyed the privilege of unveiling the Men of Vision statue, sculpted by the late Malcolm MacKenzie, in place of the late Honorable Clarence Copithorne, the Park’s originator. Riding his horse, Tom, Don rode toward the helicopter where the ailing honourable minister and his nurse were stationed inside, saluted his buffalo hunting friend, rode up the face of the hillside, and pulled away the striking red shroud. It was truly a spectacle to remember. Also, Don was instrumental in floodlighting the Men of Vision statue. 

From 1980 to 1989, Don was a councillor for the Municipal District of Rocky View and was the Chairman of its Agricultural Service Board for several years. Noxious weeds were his pet peeve. In 1994, he was commended with an Outstanding Citizenship Award from the MD of Rocky View for his dedicated involvement in community and agricultural affairs. 

Don helped instigate and worked many years as a director with the Pine Slopes Ranchers Association at Water Valley, Alberta. The workers built corrals and livestock auctions were held. We sold our calves there every fall for quite a few years. This organization was instrumental in initiating pre-sort calf sales now the norm at local auction markets. I helped, clerking, at some of the sales. 

For many years, Don was a director for Action for Agriculture, an organization formed in 1990 consisting of individuals concerned with maintaining agriculture awareness in Alberta. Don was seriously concerned about urban sprawl and wished more people would get involved and support agriculture.

Together, in 1984, Don and I received the Community Builder of the Year Award from the Cochrane and District Chamber of Commerce. 

In 1998, representing area ranchers and local cowboys, we were asked to be Parade Marshals for the Cochrane Labor Day parade, the theme of which was “Salute to the Cowboy”. 

In July 2005 the Old Time Range Men’s Dinner Association presented Don with the “Range Man of the Year” award at the 74th Annual Dinner in appreciation of his service to the industry. 

Later that same year, referring to us as a ‘tag team, we were each conferred with an Alberta Centennial Medal honouring outstanding Albertans. 

One of the most memorable occasions in our lives was in March 2006 when the Edge and the Bryant families pulled off a surprise 40th wedding anniversary party for us at the Beaupre Community Hall. My sister, Lillian, was the entertaining M.C., and the Edges belted out a song they had written to the tune of the Beverly Hillbillies that pretty well summed up our life’s story. Our neighbours, Dave and Carol Whitehead made us a video of the whole affair that we cherished and enjoyed watching many times.

The end of this story begins when three rodeo pioneers were honoured prior to the Classic Bull Riding even staged by Jason Borton et al. on April 14, 2007, at the Totem Arena in Cochrane. Norman Edge, his brother the late Don Edge, and Leo Brown were recognized for their contribution to the sport of rodeo and to the Cochrane community. I stood in for my dear husband Donald and was proud to be there for him as he had been looking forward to this momentous occasion 

In September 2007, as a tribute, the Labor Des Parade committee invited the Edge families to be parade marshals in memory of Don. We were most happy to be there and 33 Edges with two horse drawn rigs and a mounted contingent were in the big parade 

Each day, before the afternoon rodeo performance the Cochrane Lions coordinators acknowledged the missing cowboys: Wayne Cunningham, Frank Wenman, and my husband Don Edge. These men we remembered through the powerful words in one of Baxter Black’s poems. When announcer Gerry Miller read the bottom line you could have heard a pin drop “God needed three more cowboys and Wayne, Frank and Don fit right in.” 

Don departed this world on April 2, 2007, and I miss him greatly. When God called, Don kissed me good crossed the big divide and rode into the sunset.

Tom Wilson

by Jean L. Johnson pg 97 Big Hill Country 1977

One of the best-known characters to live in the Morleyville Settlement, in the early days, was Tom Wilson, though he is more widely remembered as a guide and outfitter of Banff, where he moved in 1893. For a time, in 1881 and 1882, he worked with survey parties planning the route of the C.P.R. through the mountains. 

Pierre Berton, in his book The Last Spike Vol. 2 of The Great Railway), describes in dramatic detail how Tom Wilson saved the engineer, Major A. B. Rogers, from drowning when he made a foolhardy attempt to ford a swift and swollen stream, in July of 1881. This stream, which flows into the Bow River from the Daly glacier near the eastern end of the Kicking Horse Pass, has been known ever since as Bath Creek. This occurred before Rogers had discovered the pass through the Selkirks which bears his name, so it is quite possible that had Tom failed to pull the Major from the icy waters, the railway would have followed a different route and the subsequent development of Alberta and eastern British Columbia might have taken a very different course. 


Tom Wilson was born at Bond Head, forty miles north of Toronto, on August 21, 1859, of pioneer stock. Like many Ontario farm boys, he had read romantic tales of the Northwest and heard the yarns of soldiers returning from the Red River Rebellion. At the age of sixteen, he set out looking for adventure, heading for the Canadian West, via Detroit and Chicago. He got as far as Sioux City, Iowa when a surge of homesickness sent him home again. However, four years later the urge for adventure was strong in him again. This time he joined the North West Mounted Police and was sent to Fort Walsh in the Cypress Hills. He started from Barrie, Ontario, and went to Sarnia. From there he went by steamboat to Duluth, Minnesota, where he boarded the Northern Pacific to the end of steel at Bismarck, North Dakota. From Bismarck, he travelled by boat up the Missouri River to somewhere above Fort Benton and then across the prairies to Fort Walsh. 

In April of 1881, the talk and the excitement was all of the coming railway and Tom Wilson felt he had to be part of the action. He applied for, and was given, his discharge from the Mounted Police and took a job as a packer with the I. G. Baker Company, which had a contract to supply the party searching for a route through the mountains. He proceeded south with the freight company to Fort Benton where there was a wait of a week, for the arrival of Major Rogers’ survey crew. He was hired by Rogers’ deputy, a man named Hyndman. At nineteen, Tom was the youngest of the crew. 

The party started out for Bow River Gap where they were to rendezvous with Major Rogers. It took three weeks for the party of nine prairie schooners, pulled by twenty-four teams of horses, as well as eighty pack animals, to reach Old Bow Fort. Crossing the Old Man River at Coalbank, (now Lethbridge) they had to convert the wagons into boats. When they reached Fort Calgary, they found some semblance of civilization – four log buildings: Mounted Police Barracks, Hudson’s Bay Post, I. G. Baker store and a mission. They left Fort Calgary on July 5 and camped that night on Big Hill Creek, at the site of the present town of Cochrane. 

Here they were joined by Rev. John McDougall, the Methodist missionary, who offered to guide them, as the wagon trail ended at Morley. From there west there was only an Indian [sic] trail. At Bow Fort, where the Baker Company’s contract ended, they pitched camp, and next day, Sunday, heard a sermon by Rev. John McDougall who took for his text, “As sure as Christ.” This was not taken from the Bible but from the words of a Montana packer: “Just as soon as the snow begins to fall, I am as sure as Christ, getting out of this Godforsaken country.” 

Tom became a great friend of Major Roger who wanted him to go on foot alone to explore Howse Pass. Tom quit. Later, guiding for the C.P.R., he discovered Lake Louise. The next he again met up with Major Rogers and he did explore Howse Pass. He was the first white man to view Takakkaw Falls in Yoho Park where later, a bronze plaque was erected in his honour. 

The fall of 1882 he left the mountains and spent the winter with Mr. and Mrs. David McDougall at Morley. Possibly it was about this time that he built the little log cabin on land taken later by James Potts. 

In April 1885 he received a wire from Maj Steele asking him to join Steele’s Scouts organized to assist in putting down the Riel Rebellion. When the rebellion was over he returned to Morley and homesteaded the SW 29-26-6-5, on the School Section west of the James Potts place. His buildings are long gone but there is a spot in a hollow up on the School Section hill that shows some faint signs of human abode. And there one day, I discovered rhubarb growing among the grass. During the three years, we lived on the old Coleman place, I went up regularly to pick the stunted stalks. Strangely enough, I discovered Tom’s rhubarb the year he died. 

From Frank White’s Diary: “Sept. 29, 1885, Wilson informed me that the object of his trip to Edmonton was to marry Miss Minnie McD.” 

The lady that Tom married was Minnie McDougall, a niece of the Rev. George McDougall. They had four children born at Morley, Ada, John, Rene and Thomas E. Jr.; Bessie and Dora were born in Banff. 

The family moved to Banff in 1893 where Tom became renowned as a guide and outfitter. In 1898 another well-known outfitter and mountain man, Jimmie Simpson, became one of Tom’s men and cooked for him on the trail when they took a party of Philadelphians into Emerald Lake, another lake which had been discovered and named by Tom. 

About 1901 Tom Wilson established a horse ranch on the historic Kootenay Plains. This beautiful ranch was on the flats of the North Saskatchewan River, surrounded by mountains. The plains were rich in hard grass and were swept by Chinook winds in winter so that there was excellent winter range and no cultivation of the land was necessary. Tom had A fences and good log buildings and corrals close to the river. He packed his water up from the river with a yoke across his shoulders. This yoke was carved from a log and a pail was hung from each end, making the load very easy to carry. 

Tom wintered his horses on the Kootenay Plains and in the summer took his saddle horses and pack horses to Banff where he carried on as an outfitter and had a pony stand at Lake Louise. In 1919 the Government took over his ranch and made it part of the Forest Reserve. He was 

forced to part with his Powder Horn horses which had greatly increased in numbers. Frank Wellman bought the horses. 

Tom Wilson went back to Banff and his beloved mountains. There he worked for the C.P.R. giving information to the tourists. He became a Justice of the Peace in Banff and there on September 20, 1933, he died. The bronze plaque was brought from the Yoho and placed over his grave in Banff. 

More reading

A Man for the Times

by Mary B. Mark pg 95 Big Hill Country 1977

Dominion Day, 1974, has a special significance and one with many satisfactions for the citizens of Alberta, marking as it does the first day in office of the new Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable Ralph Garvin Steinhauer. His appointment has proven a stimulating and happy choice for Albertans. 

Ralph Garvin Steinhauer was born on the Morley Indian Reserve on June 8th, 1905, the year Alberta became a province. He lived also at Brocket and in residence at the Red Deer Indian Industrial School for his primary grades. Early memories are centred around his life on the Saddle Lake Indian Reserve where his father, James Steinhauer, had come with family and friends to establish a new community. Their home was built on that part of the nineteen and one-half sections of the reserve later purchased from the native farmers by enterprising white men. 

The Steinhauer family, greatly influenced by the life and teachings of their grandfather, the Ojibway missionary, Henry Steinhauer, knew the value of education and the benefits of agricultural practices. James Steinhauer, however, had no mind to send his children away to the residential schools. They must attend Doucet School, a public school where mostly French was spoken, a good six-mile hike from home. Ralph Steinhauer and his sister Winnifred were the only two children from the reserve to attempt this integrated type of schooling. (At first, they were given a bad time by the other children but soon they were accepted.) 

Mr. Steinhauer recalls: “Later we went to Roseneath School, south of Ashmont, again the only two children from the reserve. We had a regular League of Nations there – a good teacher, good discipline. I liked history and geography best of my studies, and we had outdoor sports – lots of fun. 

“My father, who also acted as interpreter on the reserve and did a lot of carpentry work, had established quite a farm by this time. We children had our share of chores to do. After threshing in the fall, we had the long haul to bring grain to the elevator at Two Hills. At 18 I was one of the first members of the Alberta Wheat Pool.” He proudly shows the leather plaque presented to him as a founding member.

Another vivid memory is the arrival of the railway to Ashmont in 1919 and to St. Paul in 1921. He recalls when many acres of the reserve land were sold. 

“I was about 20 when white buyers came with many ten-dollar bills in their pockets. I didn’t like to see the land sold. I told my elders that it would be a great loss to my generation, but because I was not 21 they didn’t allow me to speak at the meeting.” 

Many a moccasin mile he pondered, knowing full well the land was worth much more than the paltry sums paid. 


The next year after threshing he found winter employment in the General Store and Post Office at Vilna. It was there he met Miss Isabel Davidson, the soft-spoken and lovely schoolteacher. 

“I didn’t see him until late in November,” Mrs. Steinhauer says with a laugh. They skip lightly over this time, but it was a romance, a love match. To be brought “home” to the reserve, to live the first summer in a tent, cook in a granary, to help with the building of the first log home, are happy memories today. Many pioneers can share such memories with them … the frogs chorusing in the nearby slough in the evenings, the fresh spruce-scented air, the strawberries and other wild fruit, fried partridge, roast duck … making tea, making lunches, suppers . . . summer at Saddle Lake. The young teacher, born in Buffalo, New York, who had come west to Edmonton at the age of 15 with her widowed Scottish mother, would wonder and marvel. 

“It took me a little while to get used to being a farmer’s wife,” Isabel Steinhauer says, “But I finally adapted.” She had become a teacher after taking business training at McDougall Commercial College in Edmonton. 

“Mr. Percy Page was my teacher. I worked as a bank teller at Provost for a couple of years and then went to Normal School. I taught school at Vilna, and I loved it, but Ralph wanted to farm, make our home here. It has been a good life, a busy life – a real home.” Mrs. Steinhauer states simply the sum of their 47 years of married life. 


I taught school at Vilna, and I loved it, but Ralph wanted to farm, make our home here. It has been a good life, a busy life - a real home.”

From the beginning, the young couple had much to do. There were people to meet, to understand. The Steinhauer family had several branches, notably Uncle Robert who maintained the Mission Church located at the far end of the reserve. For Ralph and Isabel, it meant a 13 mile trip in a lumber wagon when weather permitted. Also when weather permitted, Ralph coached his baseball team. 

In 1929 their daughter Muriel was born and a year later, Doreen. The birth of Kay, in 1932, came at the end of a sports day in St. Paul, when Ralph’s Saddle Lake baseball team won the day. “It was a great day,” Ralph remembers, “Win ning the ball games – and another beautiful daughter at night!”. 

At 25, Ralph Steinhauer was increasingly concerned and affected by the problems that affected the reserve. Without adequate fences, stray cattle pastured on the reserve and their own cattle often became lost. Too, the farm advisor provided by the government was a man who didn’t know a neck yoke from a singletree, or anything about the handling of livestock.” 

A native person wishing to speak to the Indian Agent had to talk to him through a wicket. If the agent didn’t like the discussion or if he thought it went on too long, he shut the wicket down in the face of the speaker. Also at that time, the Indian Agent did not meet with the native band councillors. Chief Moses acted as the go-between in those early years. Progress and communication did not exist. 

After much frustration, Ralph decided to call a council meeting. The councillors came to the waiting room. “We’re here to have a meeting,” he told the Indian Agent. “We want you out here with us.” Each band member had his say. They wanted regular meetings and open discussion of problems with the Indian Agent. Maybe this could be arranged. 

“The council meetings were the beginning of change. People began to take an interest in their own affairs. A new Indian Agent came, Mr. Bill Pugh. He brought more changes. He welcomed the council meetings, had the councillors in for lunch!” 

(The Indians had to have a permit to sell a load of grain or a calf. Through the efforts of Ralph Steinhauer, this was changed and permits are no longer in use.) 

The little girls were now well past school age. With no day school on the reserve, Isabel Steinhauer had to send her children away to the residential school at St. Albert. This went on for three unsatisfactory school terms. Not at all pleased with the quality of education, her children were receiving, Mrs. Steinhauer applied to the Correspondence School Branch and taught the children at home. Later the girls were registered in the Duclos Mission School at Bonnyville and went on to complete their education in their chosen fields of teaching and nursing. In 1937, the fourth daughter, June, was born, and in 1945, their son Kenneth arrived. B this time a day school had been built on the reserve, taught by Catholic sisters. 

The years have been filled with active community work both on and off the reserve. Neighbours and friends have always found a warm welcome in the Steinhauer home, built close to the highway in the corner of their 1800 acre farm, where cattle and grain crops are raised. 

Ralph Steinhauer’s work with the band council, begun in 1932, was to continue for 37 years. Three of these years were served as Chief. Active for many years in the work of the Indian Association of Alberta, he travelled the province, a well-known and respected figure. Later he sat on the board of the Alberta New Start Program and in 1971 the Alberta Indian Development Systems Limited. For his valuable contributions to Indian and agricultural organizations and his community, Ralph Steinhauer was invested with the Order of Canada in 1967 and made an Officer of the Order in 1972. 

Remarking on the progress and changes over the years, Mr. Steinhauer notes the population of the Saddle Lake Band is now 1600. There is a library, a playground, a kindergarten and a day school with seven grades, with Cree teacher aides helping the youngsters. There are sports facilities for the active young people, and graduating students may choose to go to the Blue Quills Residential School, now programmed and staffed by the native people, or to surrounding schools. 

“We are just as much a part of the farming community of Brosseau — all are friends and neighbours,” Mr. Steinhauer added. “We’ve known each other and worked on projects together for many years now.” 

Their family now includes 16 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Messages from the grandchildren, bursting with pride in their grandfather, have come as posters and cards, carefully written and decorated. The hand-carved sandalwood chest they had bought two years before in Zanzibar is filled with letters and cards all bearing good wishes and congratulations from friends near and far. 

Bit by bit the pattern emerges, the pattern of the past that has shaped the present and the future and made Ralph Garvin Steinhauer the first native Canadian to become the Lieutenant Governor of his province. The story is one of heritage and destiny, courage, intelligence and far-sightedness; and the great good humour and wisdom of this kindly and generous-hearted man who now becomes a historical figure in Alberta. 

Beside him, his wife Isabel gives her whole-hearted and loyal support to every decision of this remarkable man who clearly is a man for the times.

Catholic Church in the Cochrane Area

— by Marjorie Spicer  pg 172 Big Hill Country 1977

The latter part of the 19th Century witnessed the invasion of the white man to the wild and unknown country of the Blackfoot and Stoney Indians [sic]. 

In 1832 the Hudson’s Bay Company had built a trading post at Bow Fort but it had to be abandoned due to the hostility of the Indians [sic]. In 1840 missionaries started to come into the area. Explorers and surveyors were already here. Before the Palliser Expedition was sent west to seek a pass through the mountains, Rev. Father Pierre Jean DeSmets came to the valley of Bow by way of the Whiteman’s Pass. This was in 1845. He spent some time with the Stoney Indians [sic], and while among them performed what were perhaps the first baptisms in the Calgary diocese, when he brought six Indian [sic] children and one elderly man into the church. 

Eleven years before the hamlet of Cochrane was founded, the first manifestation of Catholic life in Southern Alberta began when, on October 19, 1873, Reverend Fathers Fourmand and Scollen with their guide, Louis Dazé, left St. Albert (now a district in Edmonton) and travelled to the Elbow River, taking up residence in a log cabin built by Alexis Cardinal. This was a small cabin, 12 x 12. It was heated by an open hearth built of flat stones. The one window in the cabin was a thin parchment, and for a door, they used a tightly stretched rawhide. The parishioners were Blackfoot, Metis, and some trappers and traders, most of them having arrived in the area from the United States. 

When winter was over Father Fourmand and Louis Dazé returned to St. Albert, while Father Scollen left to visit the camps of the buffalo hunters, who were mostly Metis, and other Indians [sic] who were scattered over the vast prairie. It took Father Scollen six months to make the trip ending at St. Albert on August 5, 1874. 

In the summer of 1874, another great event was taking place; the North West Mounted Police were establishing themselves in the Northwest Territories. Having assisted at the annual retreat in St. Albert, Father Scollen, in company with Father Bonald and Louis Dazé, arrived back at the Elbow River Mission on November 2, 1874. Father Bonald was put in charge of the Mission, while the others organized a hunting party to get provisions for the winter. During this hunting trip, Louis Dazé was frozen to death in a snowstorm on November 22, 1874. 

Louis Dazé’s body was taken to St. Albert for burial in the spring of 1875. Father Bonald and Alexis Cardinal took the body back, leaving on March 8, and arriving on March 22. 

Two new priests were given their obediences for the Elbow River Mission, Fathers Touze and Doucet. They arrived at the Mission, on May 18, 1875. 

In the fall of 1875 Father Scollen, who had been visiting at Fort Macleod and St. Albert, returned to join Father Doucet at the Mission. The North West Mounted Police were establishing a fort, and it was decided to close the Elbow River Mission and move to the same area as the Police Fort, which was twenty-five miles further east on the Elbow River. They felt that there would be a need for their services at the Fort, as there would be more white people arriving and more Indians would visit the post regularly. Thus, after two years, the missionary centre of Southern Alberta moved to Fort Calgary in October 1875. 

The invasion of the whites, when it did come, was fast and furious. A number of ranches were being taken up in the Cochrane District. Some of these ranchers were Catholic immigrants from the Highlands of Scotland. In 1883 the arrival of the C.P.R. made transportation easier for the missionaries. They were able to visit mining and lumbering camps in the area, as well as hold services in private homes. 

During the winter of 1894, a census was taken of Catholics in the Cochrane area, and it was found that there were eighty. Father Comire was asked to build a church. This was approved. James Johnstone, the father of Mrs. Frank Sibbald, donated one acre of land for the church. On September 25, 1895, Father Comire and Brother Patrick Bowes set to work building the church. Residents of the area, including many Protestants, were very generous, and the church was built free of any debts. The church was blessed Sunday, November 24, 1895. Father Lestanc performed the ceremony. 

Father Comire was transferred from Cochrane and was replaced by Father Fouget. He remained until 1899. During his stay, he erected the Way of the Cross and started a collection for an organ loft. Father Culerier attended the Cochrane Parish for a few months in 1899. 

On January 15, 1900, Father Seltman took charge of the Mission west of Calgary. In 1901 he built a small rectory at St. Mary’s in Cochrane. He obtained permission to take up residence there, remaining for only a few months. In Oc tober 1907, Father Hubert Hermes had charge of the missions west of Calgary. He remained with the Mission until 1921. During the summer, he would reside in Banff, and in the winter would alternate between Canmore and Cochrane. In 1908 an addition was added to the church. This was made necessary by the influx of Belgian and French workers at the Cochrane brickyards. 

During his long tenure of ministry, Father Hermes was highly respected for his genuine concern for the human race. He had a charming manner and was a popular participant in sporting events. 

After the departure of Father Hermes, diocesan priests took over the missions. First Father Greene and Father Stavinski resided at Cochrane. They were followed by Fathers McLaughlin, Dunbar, Cunningham, and Clancy. The last four visited Cochrane from St. Mary’s in Calgary. Father Jacob resided here for one winter, and Father Fitzpatrick for two years. Father Lyons made bi-monthly visits from St. Mary’s, Calgary. 

In 1940 Bishop Carroll authorized the return of the parish to the Oblate Fathers and Father Lessard took up residence at Cochrane. Father Lessard, well remembered by all who knew him, was dedicated to helping the young people in the district, and through his efforts, a young people’s club was formed. Both Catholic and Protestant youngsters attended the weekly get-togethers and enjoyed many good times together.

 With his help and encouragement, a newspaper came into being in Cochrane. It was called the Old Timer and was circulated to the four corners of the globe. Father Lessard took a great interest in all sports and was truly a sportsman. In 1946 he was transferred from Cochrane to a mission among the Blackfoot Indians. He passed away in 1966 and was laid to rest at St. Albert. 

In 1939 a cairn was erected, nine miles south of Cochrane, at the site of the first Catholic mission in Southern Alberta. The land in the Mission Valley was owned at that time by the Mickle family. Charles Mickle donated the land for the cairn. It was dedicated to the memory of the first hardy missionaries that braved the wild country to help bring religion to the native people, as well as to the white settlers. When the cairn was dedicated, records of the mission were enclosed in a vault on the cairn. Someone broke into the vault, destroying all the valuable papers. 

In 1945 St. Mary’s Church at Cochrane celebrated its fiftieth year. In 1959 a new church

was built. A replica of the first St. Mary’s Church was built by the Franciscan Order and can be seen on their spacious lawn at the Mount St. Francis Retreat, north of the town of Cochrane. 

Part of the information for this history comes from material written by Father Lessard in 1945.

History of St. Andrews Church

by Edna Copithorne, assisted by Ruth Davies pg 169 Big Hill Country 1977

About 1962, Mrs. Sara Robinson, who was living with her daughter Annie in Banff, invited a few older Cochrane-ites in for tea. I gleaned some interesting bits of the history of the church from this group. 

They all agreed that the first minister in Cochrane was Mr. Ternie, who held church service in the tiny schoolhouse and later in the section house. This section house was a spacious, two-storey frame building painted “CPR red”, housing the C.P.R. foreman and his family. The first Presbyterian church was built between 1901 and 1902 and was located on the site of the present church. Mr. Simpson was the pastor. The Rev. J. A. Claxton arrived in 1903. Mrs. Claxton taught Sunday school and played the organ every Sunday. Mr. Claxton purchased a team of ponies and held services at Mitford, Grand Valley, Lochend, and in homes in the area called the “Burnt Ground.” I remember a barn behind the church, where there was a nice yard with a pump in it. That area is now taken up by the Andrew Sibbald School. In 1904 a frame two-storey

the manse was built beside the church and the Claxtons lived there. This manse was torn down in the 1960s, and the space is now used as the church parking area. The church was a wooden structure, heated with two wood stoves. This church was so crowded at times that latecomers were obliged to stand during the service, so it was decided to build a new one. The old church was hauled to the back of the lot, where it was used as a gymnasium for years and sometimes as a schoolroom. Later it was sold to Bill Beynon Sr. and moved to his farm, where it is still being used as a barn. The original church windows are still in it. 


The new church (the present one) was built by Robert and Andrew Chapman, built with local bricks from the Collins Brickyard. The drop lights in the church were taken out of the hotel and donated to the church. The cornerstone was laid in October 1908, by Mrs. James Quigley, and the trowel she used was framed and hung by the door inside the church. While she was laying the cornerstone, Billie Wright dropped a coin un der it just for fun. In 1934 Mrs. Quigley was given the honor of burning the church mortgage. 

On February 10, 1909, the new church was dedicated. The first organist was Mrs. Park (the Doctor’s wife), and she was assisted by Mrs. Claxton. Rev. Claxton invited the following speakers for the dedication: Rev. Bacon Hillocks; Rev. Hollingsworth, of the Methodist Church at Springbank; Rev. R. Harrison of the Anglican Church in Cochrane and Rev. Kennedy. In 1925 it became the United Church. Ministers down through the years were: J. A. Claxton, 1903-1912; W. A. R. Whiteman, 1913-1914; W. F. Burns, 1915-1916; 1917 – vacant; W. A. Greer, 1918; A. W. K. Herdman, 1919; in 1920 and 1921 – vacant; W. S. Brooker, 1922, student supply, Per cy Halstead, 1928-1931; Doctor McKeen Reid, B.A., B.D., 1932-1933; A. R. Aldridge, 1934-1935; E. Pow, B.A. (was at Springbank also), 1936 1939; W. Little, B.A., 1940-1943; 1944 – vacant; W. B. Leard, 1945; C. W. MacKay, B.A., B.D., 1946-1948; J. R. Brown, B.A., 1948-1951; L. A.

Thompson, 1952-1956; W. E. Julian, B.Sc., 1957 1963; K. G. Syer, 1964-1966; William Dickson, Murray Armstrong, 1967; Rev. Randy Naylor, B.A., B. D. Honors, 1971 to the present year of 1976. 

During Rev. Julian’s service, a fine church hall was built onto the back of the church, and in 1974, church offices were added to this building. 

The first couple to be married in the new church was William Beynon and Chris Davies. 

At the dedication service in February 1909, the Ladies’ Aid gave a “New England Supper” and a program of music and addresses. 

The earliest history of the Ladies’ Aid is scarce. Mrs. Sarah Robinson said, “I joined it before I was married, going to it with my mother (Mrs. James Quigley). I was married in 1902.” Members she could recall were: Mrs. Adam Baptie, Mrs. Bruce, Mrs. McEwen, Mrs. James Quigley and herself, Miss Sara Quigley. 

Members of the Church Board will always be remembered with gratitude. Bob Beynon was secretary for 42 years. Ed Davies was on the Board and Session for 22 years. Hugh Wearmouth has now taken their place. 

The Sunday school superintendents with their staff of teachers have served this community since the year 1886; 89 years of volunteer service

teaching and guiding our young people! The earliest superintendent the Quigleys could remember was Mrs. Morophy, the blacksmith’s wife. Incidentally, their blacksmith shop was located where Jimmie McKay’s store now stands. Alex Quigley said, “Mrs. Morophy was so religious she would peel her potatoes, and do all the other work she could do on Saturday instead of on Sunday.” 

Vivian Riddle, nee McNamee, contributed this information: “Thomas Davies was superintendent and teacher about 1915. He wore his hair longish and it and his beard were white.” Vivian, a very young child then, thought God must look like Mr. Davies. He travelled in a buggy pulled by his buckskin pony. 

Hazel White and Dorothy Grayson were both active teachers in the early Sunday school. Sunday school picnics and garden parties were held in Mrs. White’s or Mrs. Bruce’s beautiful gardens, amid tall shady trees. The Crawfords later were hosts to the annual Sunday school picnic, held in their field near the Jumping Pound Creek – an ideal spot! In the church, you can see a plaque in memory of Arthur Crawford, a generous supporter of the church. 

Andrew Chapman, one of the first superintendents, taught a Bible Class of senior

boys and girls, and was a strict disciplinarian. His class would get out of line sometimes, especially at Hallowe’en, and he did not hesitate to bring them into court, as he was also the Village Magistrate. The church had a little vestry at the back, which was used for classes as well as the sanctuary. At times there were more than one hundred children attending. Mr. Chapman carried on his good work until the mid-forties when he and Mrs. Chapman retired and moved to the Coast. The children saved their extra pennies and bought a lovely chair for them as a parting gift. 

T. Boucher and George Bunny were also very good leaders in the Sunday school. Nancy Boothby was secretary and leader for many years, 

June Morris was the next leader. June was quite young and introduced new and different ideas. 

Winnie Neilson was the next leader and proved to be an excellent choice. Her music was a great help to the children. Every Christmas, we had a Christmas party with Santa Claus and candy bags for all. Everyone enjoyed this, especially the little children. 

Rev. L. Thompson, our minister in the fifties, was the leader of the Sunday school and taught a class of boys. 

Later on George Woods, the bank manager took over the reins. His wife was C.G.I.T. leader and taught a class of girls. Their two daughters also helped with church work. Mr. Woods took the pulpit in the absence of the minister. He retired from the bank and the family moved to Calgary. This was Cochrane’s great loss, but St. David’s gain. 

Betty MacDonnell then became the superintendent and leader of the C.G.I.T. This was no small task, by this time the Sunday school had about 125 to 130 pupils. Betty also belonged to the U.C.W. The MacDonnells (Jack and Betty) went to England, where Jack taught school for two years. 


We had had an education building added on to the church, and a new curriculum was introduced. Clarence McGonigle, the new leader, was very active in many organizations that helped children. Clarence was one of the first men to work at the new Shell Oil plant south of Cochrane. The Sunday school picnic was then held at McGonigle’s. 

At present, our minister, the Rev. Randy Naylor, is the leader. We also have a baby-sitting service so the young mothers can go to church and leave their wee ones in competent hands. 

The first St. Andrews church choir had 17 members; some were: Mable, Ivor and Bruce McNamee; Myrtle, Lila, Bessie and Ruth Webster; Steve, Charlie and Lily Peyto; George Bunny, Bill Beynon, Margaret Chapman, Dot White, Dr. Park, and Andrew Chapman. This choir, along with an active Bible class, raised money to install the church bell still being used in the tower. Mrs. Brooker and daughter Dorothy organized a choir in the 1930s, especially for Easter and Christmas services. 

Andy Chapman later organized a choir with Kelly Siple as the leader; Dorothy and Maybelle Colgan; Florence and Freda Getty; Pat and Doreen Flynn; Cathie, Vivian, and Don McNamee; Bill Graham, Tom Pratt, Muriel Raby and Bernice Fletcher. 

Later, Mrs. White, the school principal’s wife, became choir leader. The Cochrane relief camp, established by the Government in the 1930s, provided work for the unemployed men during the depression years. Some of these men joined the church choir and Ben Skinner, a well-known Calgary tenor, sang with them. On special occasions F. L. Gainer, a member of the Cochrane Roman Catholic Church, who sang tenor, would sing a solo. Many names should be mentioned here in connection with the later choirs such as Vi Desjardine and her daughter Donna, Miriam Callaway, Claudia Edge, Winnie Neilson, and the present Ecumenical or Inter-Faith choir conducted by Claudette McLenahan of St. Mary’s Church, Cochrane. 

There were many fine organists throughout the years. Bessie Webster played for a couple of years; then Ruth Seal (who later married a student minister, F. R. Vanderburgh) played for 15 years. She also played occasionally in the Anglican Church. During 1929-30 she played at 22 funerals held in the church. The Ladies’ Aid gave her two of J. D. Curren’s paintings. In 1921 she was given a watch inscribed, “To Ruth M. Seal By Church Friends, Cochrane, Alberta.” This she used until 1953 when it wore out! Her sister, Margaret Chapman, also played for years; then Vivian and Cathie McNamee. Dorothy Brooker played when her father was a minister. Alice Moore and Aileen Copithorne also played for a number of years. Vernice Wearmouth now plays for the church and the choir. Dolly Callaway and Helen Scott also deserve thanks for playing the piano at Sunday school. 


In 1953 we bought a new organ and Fred Gaskell from the Ghost Dam played for us. In 1974 this organ was sold and Alice and Bob Moore gave their organ to the church in memory of their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Andison, and Mr. and Mrs. Alex Moore. 

There have been many youth groups in the church. Dorothy Grayson and Julie Carscallen were two excellent leaders. Mrs. McKeen Reid and Mrs. McBey started the first C.G.I.T. in Cochrane. Other leaders were Mrs. Clare McKay, Margaret Klassen, Mrs. Woods and her daughter (Marilyn Whittle). 

The first Boy Scout group was formed in 1912 with Andrew Chapman as Scout Master. He took a group to Calgary to see the Duke of Devonshire, 

In 1962, when the Boy Scouts celebrated their 50th anniversary in Calgary, two of Mr. Chapman’s 1912 Boy Scouts, Ernest Craig and Ivor McNamee, were honoured by the Governor-General of Canada, Roland Michener. 

There have been other groups established since, such as the Hi-Cs, Tuxis Groups and a “Drop-In” for young marrieds. 

The people of Cochrane and the district can look back into the Church’s history with honour and respect. Missionaries of every faith, with great courage and devotion, zeal and patience, established the foundation for the present churches. The St. Andrew’s United Church has added much to community life. 

Mr and Mrs John Park

– by Bessie MacEwan  pg 774 Big Hill Country, 1977

In 1898 my father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. John Park, came to Canada, to Calgary and on to Cochrane. With them came my brother Andrew, aged three and a half. My sister Peggie and I remained at school in Scotland for seven years.

Mother and Father, and of course Andrew, stayed at the Queen’s Hotel in Calgary for six weeks. Calgary then consisted of Eighth Avenue (Stephen Ave.), it being from Second Street East to First Street West, with wooden sidewalks and mud. 

Father had come to Canada after his business in Scotland went into liquidation because he and “Johnny Walker” were much too friendly. No, he was not a remittance man but did have a bi-yearly allowance from his father’s estate. He could have had a homestead within the (then) City of Calgary limits but as “Johnny Walker” seemed to have relations here, he preferred to go further west. They proceeded to the XC Ranch and I believe were there two or three years. Finally, Father took up a homestead on NW14 16 25-5-5; later he bought two other quarters, one homesteaded by Herb (Soapy) Smith, and the other by Uncle Bob, who came to Canada in 1903. Soapy Smith was a guide in the mountains and only lived on his place part of the time. My father bought another half section of land in the same area later. The fourth quarter of sixteen was reserved by the Government for water reserve. My father’s brand was Bar reversed LR. 

Father built a log house on his quarter; it was lined with fir and in one of Mother’s letters we read incorrectly and thought it was lined with fur. When we were prepared to come out, we had with us a huge packing case of the very warmest clothing, for which we never had a use. We cut and braided them for the beautiful rugs my mother fashioned. Father still hob-nobbed with “Johnny’s” relations but Mother was a wonderful woman. While they were at the XC, Clem Gardner, then a boy, and his two sisters used to all get on one horse and jump over barrels, hence Clem’s great horsemanship. 

For months on end, Mother never saw a white woman. The Indians [sic] came, and Mother fed them; always they wrapped up the food they couldn’t consume and said, “Squaw [sic], papoose.” 

Water was carried from the spring and woodcut in the bush and chopped for firewood. Mother made furniture from apple and orange boxes or whatever was around; made drapes from bleached flour sacks and embroidered them. Later she advanced in her carpenter work and made the most beautiful and durable furniture from lumber, painted it with a green heart stain, and varnished it. She made a buffet, china cabinet and even a table with extension leaves. Mother also made upholstered chairs from apple barrels. The windows were draped with embroidered flour sacks. There were lots of flour sacks around because Mother did all her own baking, including bread. 

My brother had no little playmates but he did have his little dog, “Curly.” She pulled his sleigh in winter and a play hayrack with his favourite rag doll in summer. When he later went to school, he had to ride nine miles, regardless of the weather, and Curly used to meet him one mile from home at the exact time of his return. 

My sister and I came to Canada in 1906. The ocean trip onboard the Corinthian was exciting to us because it took fourteen days. We ran into icebergs and fog and the Captain lost control of the ship; for three days we were on our homeward journey, as the ship had about turned. We ran out of food, were given ship’s biscuits, life jackets, and we were shut off the decks. Upon arriving at Quebec, we were free to go ashore for the day as the ship had to have repairs. There were billboards telling of the loss of the Corinthian, with so many lives lost. 

We arrived in Calgary, May 23, 1906, where Mother and Father met us. They boarded the train and travelled to Cochrane with us and that was to be our first shock. What a transformation! We had made our home in Scotland with our grandmother Park in all luxury. We had to stay overnight at the Murphy Hotel. The next day the ground was white with snow, a great experience to us. We drove to Joe Clemens’ ranch for lunch. He was a bachelor and had tin plates and enamelled mugs, more fun to us. Finally, we arrived at the little log house which was to be our home for a few years. It was a picture, I would say a “dream house” from a storybook and so sweet and spotless. Father and Mother had almost been burned out by a prairie fire on May 4th. 

We could ride horseback, having had our own stables and ponies in Scotland. Then came the fun of learning to milk. Mother used to read from the “Home Preacher” (which I now possess) because there was no way of going to church other than driving to Cochrane 14 miles. 

The roundup used to be held on the water reserve of section 16. My brother and I used to ride the range, too, in search of our lost animals. 

Frank Ricks’ ranch adjoined Father’s and Frank was a wonderful neighbour. He built a lovely house and a covered passage to a new hayloft. We had many wonderful dances up there. The Masonic Ball and that of the Old Timers were the social events of the winter, held in Cochrane of course, and believe it or not there was a band with drums, otherwise, we danced to a mouth organ and fiddle. We really had a good time and arrived home usually in time for the a.m. milking, then off to bed until lunchtime. We always drove in a democrat as there were no cars. I remember the first car to come out there, and how the horses in the field stampeded and snorted when it was visible on a hill four or five miles away. 

Of course, we all rode horseback, and at first, I used Mother’s sidesaddle, but one day Father weakened and brought home a lovely Australian saddle for me. Previously he had said it was unladylike for a girl to ride astride. I also rode a little racing saddle. I learned to break the odd horse and one day my brother dared me to break a cow to ride. The cow was a stray and simply wouldn’t stay away. She was unbranded and we named her Emily Jane. One day down at the water hole Andrew dared me to spring from my horse onto her back and that’s how it all started. 

At one time we milked 31 cows by hand and I have milked all 31 by myself. We drove about 12 miles to Batemans with milk and cream. When we made butter in hot weather, I arose at four a.m. to get the churning done and butter made into pounds before the heat of the day. Yes, I also made bread, and Mr. Bateman sold it at his store. I was really making money. I think I realized about two dollars after making up 100 pounds of flour. I made bread for Stanley Cope and then I could really study Eaton’s Catalogue, known as the “Prairie Bible.” What fun! It was a very valuable book. 

In winter we used to fill ticking with hay and put these under our mattresses because the wood stoves usually burned out by morning and the temperature in the a.m. was just about that of outdoors, sometimes 30 degrees below. We also put flat stones in the oven before going on any trip, then wrapped them in old blankets to keep our feet from freezing. We needed the warmth in spite of wearing felt boots and overshoes. The good old flat irons were heated at night and again wrapped in old pieces of a blanket to keep our beds warm during the cold nights.

SS Corithian courtesy NorwayHeritage.com

Frank Sibbald was one of the first neighbours we were introduced to upon our arrival in Cochrane and what a wonderful person he was. He and Mrs. Sibbald and their three children became our dear friends, a friendship which has lasted these many years. 

I was driving home from Cochrane alone one day and got caught in a blizzard. I thought I was driving along a wire fence and would soon come to the gate. After some time I decided to tie my team up and walk to the gate, only to find I had been driving around a haystack. 

Willy Robb, later a bit of a horse thief, was around our country for a few years and I remember him arriving at our ranch one day with a horse that was fully grown. He had tried to make it into a hackney by cutting off its tail and it had become infected. I was to ride the horse but I didn’t take time to change into my divided skirt (which incidentally I had bought with my bread earnings) and my skirt worked its way over the horse’s sore tail. What a ride it was! Full speed uphill and down dale for miles and miles. The poor horse was more afraid than I was and however, we came home I just don’t know. I never did accept the invitation to ride it in the Cochrane Races. 

I always wanted to become a nurse but my father objected, so one fine day when Andrew was going to Cochrane, I threw my saddle into the democrat, tied my horse behind, and off I went. I put my horse in the Cochrane stable and went to Calgary, made my arrangements and returned to Cochrane, then rode home. The fat was in the fire! My mind was made up and I went to the Columbia Hospital on, I think, Fourth Avenue West. It was a private hospital where all the elite went as patients. While there I had the honour of nursing the famous Bob Edwards and that was a barrel of fun. One evening Bob and his great friend went out and visited the “Holy Rollers” then returned to demonstrate to us what took place, Bob had a player piano in his office home in the old Commercial Block and we young hopefuls used to enjoy playing it. I went to the newly opened Typhoid Hospital on 16th Avenue North East. 

The First World War broke out and my boyfriend, later my husband, went Overseas for what we thought would only be a short time. He was there four years. I went in training at the Calgary General Hospital and became the first Gold Medalist of the Calgary General. I was night supervisor for 16 months until I resigned to be married. My fiancé had then returned from the war and was discharge officer at Calgary Military District No. 13. We had two daughters Margaret (Peggie) Struthers MacEwan of Long Beach, California, and Vera Elizabeth, now Mrs. Luyendyk of Ottawa. Vera and her husband have two daughters, Karen and Jill. Karen has just entered University to take her B.Sc. in Nursing, thus carrying on a family tradition.

My sister Peggie only stayed on the ranch for about two years, went in training at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal and then went Overseas with the McGill Unit. After three years of war service in No. 2 Canadian General Hospital, she married and had three children, a son Cyril, a daughter Ann and a second son who was killed in action in World War II. 

My brother Andrew, now deceased, ranched around Vega, Alberta, having moved there about 40 years ago with his wife and six children, now all grown up, married and all over Canada. 

I can remember when Andrew and I chopped blocks of snow and hauled piles of them to the house for Mother to melt as the spring was low. What a lot of snow it took for a washing! 

Mother and Father moved to Cochrane and Mother’s lovely handmade furniture and rugs that had graced the ranch home were taken to their little white house in town. It was there that my dear mother passed away on November 24, 1922, at age 51. I nursed my mother until the end. Father remarried. Later I also nursed him, as I did my stepmother until they too passed on. 

There is a ridge out at the old ranch named Park Ridge from which one day I hope my grandchildren may see oil flowing. Alberta’s Centennial film “West to the Mountains” was filmed on the Park Ridge. The opening scenes and the closing scenes with Burl Ives singing the title song, West to the Mountains, show this very beautiful country where we lived with our wonderful neighbours, the Sibbalds, Copithornes, Watts, Robinsons and many more. 

Mr. and Mrs. Frank Brooks later purchased the Park’s house in Cochrane. It is now owned by Edgar Pears. 

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Peyto Family

– by Annie Kovaks pg 258 Big Hill Country 1977

In 1890 Bill Peyto came from Kent, England, to Cochrane. He took out homestead land west of Cochrane in the Montreal Valley on the SW14 30 27-5-5. When the Boer War broke out he went Overseas, then came back to the Cochrane area and took out more homestead land beside his first homestead. He kept trail and pack horses there during the winter. During the summer he did guiding and packing in the Banff area. He served Overseas in the 1914-18 War, and when he came back he joined the Warden Service in the Banff National Park. Peyto Lake is named in his honour. He passed away during the 1940s in Banff. 

Steve and Maria Peyto and family, Steve Jr., Charlie, Lily, and Annie came to Cochrane from Kent, England, in 1906. They were actually on their way to Banff but Maria Peyto stepped off the train at Cochrane. The town was under quarantine for smallpox and they wouldn’t let the Peytos back on the train, so they had to make Cochrane their stopping place. 

Steve went to work for the C.P.R. and stayed there for a number of years. He quit the railroad and went to live on a farm owned by Tom Fisher, east of the C. W. Fisher home. There they operated a dairy and shipped milk by train each day to a son in Banff, who delivered it from door to door. Steve Jr. and his brother Charlie worked for the Chapman brothers in 1910, in the construction business. Steve Jr. worked at Collins’ Brickyard for a while. 

In 1910 and 1911 Peytos ran a bakery in Cochrane. In 1923 the Peyto family left Cochrane and went to Anthracite, near Banff, to run a dairy business there. 

Bill Peyto’s homestead is now in the possession of the Griffin family.

Anthracite AB 1895 courtesy Wikipedia

Peyto Lake is the most famous lake in Banff National Park you may have heard of. It’s a turquoise blue glacier-fed lake 40 km north of Lake Louise and a popular stop on the famous Icefields Parkway. The brilliant display of blue is fed by the Peyto Glacier high above the lake and part of the Wapta Icefield.

Cameron Seagle and Natasha Alden, The Banff Blog Tweet

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Peverell Family

— by Muriel Peverell pg 258, Big Hill Country 1977

Sam and Muriel Peverell moved to Cochrane in 1939. Sam went to work for his aunt, Irene Loughery, taking over the duties of his uncle Jim Loughery who had passed away in 1938. His work included a trip north of Cochrane once a week to pick up cream in the Dog Pound and Bottrel area. In 1954 Sam purchased the creamery from his aunt and for a number of years his son, Brian helped in the creamery. 


Cochrane Creamery
Current King Solomon Lodge

Sam was active in community affairs, was Scout Master for a number of years and draw secretary of the Cochrane Curling Club. He held this position until 1964 and at that time his son, Brian, took over and remained draw secretary until 1972, then he moved to Castor, Alberta. Sam was in the Reserve Army in Cochrane during World War Two. He was a member of King Solomon Lodge (Masonic) and was secretary of the Lodge for twenty-three years. He was also Worshipful Master in 1949, and District Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Alberta in 1964. He has been a member of the Vestry of All Saints Anglican Church in Cochrane since 1940. Sam played hockey on the Cochrane Hockey Team in his earlier years. 

Muriel taught Sunday School in the United and Anglican Churches and was a member of the All Saints Anglican Church Ladies Guild. She served in office for twenty years in the Order of the Eastern Star, Zenith Chapter, and Grand Representative of the Grand Chapter of Alberta for three years. 


Muriel and Sam were Worthy Matron and Worthy Patron of Zenith Chapter in 1960. 

They have two sons and one daughter, Brian in Castor, Lloyd in Delta, British Columbia, and Kay in Toronto. They have eight grandchildren. Sam and Muriel sold the creamery and their home in Cochrane and retired to Salmon Arm, British Columbia, in March 1975. 

I've attached 3 photos of historic Cochrane to this story that are not the story in Big Hill Country. I did that because I've not read a story with as much community involvement as this one.

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Clarence and Hattie May Ullery

- by Ellen Bryant pg 417 Big Hill Country 1977 

Dad was born in Viola, Idaho, in 1886. Mother, Hattie May Shawver, was born in Aguilar, Colorado, on May 22, 1894. She was one of eleven children and was brought up to be a strict Seventh Day Adventist. On July 1, 1904, her parents, Mr. and Mrs. William Shawver, moved by covered wagon to Viola, Idaho. My parents were married on September 19, 1913. They had two children, Earl Wesley (Bud), born January 1, 1915, and Amy Ellen, born August 15, 1916. 

Dad came to Canada in 1915, to Saskatchewan, but did not like it there. He returned to the United States and brought his wife and family to live at Champion, Alberta, in 1916. 

He loved grain farming and did all his work with horses. His draft horses were all well trained and he flatly refused to ever drive them off the walk. 

When he bought his first and only car, a Model T Ford, well past its prime, he soon sold it because, “It just went too fast.” 

 He would drive down the road pulling back on the steering wheel with his feet jammed on the floor boards. Bud was not too popular at the time because he could not keep from laughing. One day on the way to town, a tire came off the wheel and bounced down the road ahead of them. Dad stopped the car, jumped out, spanked Bud and told him if he hadn’t laughed it would never have happened. 

Dad was a very good farmer and raised some excellent wheat crops, but the dry years of the twenties forced him to move elsewhere. He moved with his family to the ranching area northwest of Nanton, where he worked for Jim and Charlie Dew, Walter Ings, and Arthur Crawford-Frost. 

My parents drifted apart during the Depression, and Mom and I went to Blackie, Alberta, where Mom worked for a widower, Howard Thurber, who had three young boys. Bud went to work on ranches at Havre and Browning, Montana. 


My mother and I moved to Cochrane with a team and wagon on August 15, 1931. Mom had been to Cochrane earlier in the year to look at land owned by my schoolteacher, Miss Ritchie. This land was later bought by Henri Andersen and Peter Hansen. Mom met Ed Stewart the day she came to see the land and he told her that, due to early frosts, you could not grow a good garden in that valley. A good garden was part of my mother’s life so she lost interest in that land and rented 20 acres from Dr. Waite, just across the C.P.R. tracks, south of the creamery in Cochrane. 

Determined never to accept relief during the Depression, Mom hauled log firewood with her team and wagon from the north end of Grand Valley, which was sixteen miles from Cochrane, sawed it into blocks with a crosscut saw and sold it for $5.00 a load, or in the log for $1.00 a foot measured from the front bolster of the wagon. She traded wood for animals and hay. Soon she had a collection that would compare with Noah’s Ark, but — not enough land. In case anyone wonders what became of the faithful horse that George Bunney drove on his milk route in Cochrane for so many years, well, it ended up in our corral too — and was the only horse I was ever brave enough to harness. Mom’s cow brand was a joined MA Bar and her horse brand was B Heart, the horse brand her father had used in Colorado. 

In 1933 she rented three-quarter sections of land in the Grand Valley district, W12 and NE 14 28-27-5-5, owned by Harry Parker and his son. After turning left off the Grand Valley road there was just a wagon trail leading to the buildings. The house on the Parker place was a one-roomed log house with an open ceiling. It was built in 1914 by Earl Whittle and Harry Parker Sr. There was a lot of timber on the property and the first morning we were there we could not find our milk cows. We soon bought cowbells and strapped them around the cows’ necks. 

In 1935 Dave Bryant built a log addition to the house and Mom held many parties and dances there. Often we danced until daylight as everyone had come on horseback or by team and buggy. Bud was not at home very much, but when he was he took wrestling lessons from Ace Charters, who lived on the old Hornbach place. Bud wrestled in several matches in Cochrane. If Mom got after him for something, he would just lift her up and throw her over his shoulder as if she were a rag doll. Bud married Vivienne Crane and they have three children, Bill, Jim and Heather Ann. 

After Dave Bryant and I were married we lived across the valley one mile east of Mom. In the winter she would ride over and get our children and take them home in a box on a homemade hand sleigh, which she pulled with her lariat wrapped around the saddle horn. If the weather turned too cold for us to go and get them, she was delighted, and so were they, because she would bring the Shetland colt into the house for them to play with. 

One day Andy Garson came and saw the colt in the house and I don’t think he ever got over the shock. 

Mom really liked to cook and she never worried about being short of anything. She cooked supper for my family one night and brought some corn on the cob for a special treat. I was short of saucepans and, much to her grandchildren’s delight, she cooked the corn in the teakettle. 

My dad moved to Cochrane in 1933. He worked in the hayfields both north and south of the Bow River. He worked for Paul Swanson for a number of years. 

In his later years, he lived in a one-roomed bachelor shack on Harold and Ike Griffin’s rangeland and worked in the winter cutting rails. Once, while living there, he thought he’d better investigate a noise he heard in the attic, only to find that a black bear was sleeping in the upper bunk. Dad backed down the ladder and there was no argument as to who would pay the rent. His closest neighbours were the Frank Brooks family and Jim and Joan Storey. 

In 1952, while Dad was living on the Griffin place, he collapsed due to a cerebral hemorrhage and if Joe Allen hadn’t stopped by just at the same moment, the hemorrhage would have proven fatal. Dad was in poor health for three years but made a complete recovery. 

He retired in 1956 and went to live in Calgary. He moved into the Brentwood Nursing Home in 1969 where he still resides. He will be 90 years old on October 12, 1976. His mother lived to be 103 and was never bedridden. 

I never remember my dad going to church, but he never swore, and two things he really taught me were: “Never mind what the other person is doing, just watch what you are doing yourself,” and “In a crisis, there is no time for tears.” 

Although my mother continued to live on the Parker place, it was sold in 1940 to Harold Menzies of Hammill Motors in Calgary. He sold it to my mother in 1943. In 1946 the land was sold to my husband and me. 

Mom went to cook at the a7 Ranch at Nanton, which was under the management of John Cross. Once, while cooking at the a7, she cooked dinner for several friends of the Cross family. After dinner one of the guests, Major General Worthington, head of the Western Army Command, came to the kitchen and said, “Anyone who could cook a dinner like that is certainly not going to do the dishes.” The party ended up in the kitchen, and they didn’t even leave when the kitchen was tidy. Mom also cooked for Brewsters at the Kananaskis Guest Ranch for several summers. 

Although she loved outside work and would ride miles to take part in a gymkhana, she did beautiful sewing and crocheting.

She loved to write and recite poetry. Music was written by Dutton and Coyle for one of her songs, “The End of The Trail is My Home.” A copyright was secured by Westmore Music Corporation, Portland, Oregon, in 1944. It was recorded by The Pals of the Golden West. 

My mother went back to the United States in 1952 and remarried in 1957. She passed away in 1962 and was buried in Clarkson, Washington. 



I’ve wandered all over God’s country, over desert and mountain side, 

Through the heat and the cold, vainly searching for gold, 

Out west of the Great Divide. 

I’d start out each morning at daybreak, over valley and hill and dale; 

Wherever I’d roam, I’d call it my home, 

When I’d come to the end of the trail. 




The end of the trail is my home 

No matter wherever I roam. 

Through life’s storm and gale, 

There is rest without fail, 

For the end of the trail is my home. 



There’s some I know have been lucky, in their search for gold and fame, 

Though I’ve searched far and near, in my eyes there’s a tear, 

For I’ve played a losing game. 

And now I’m tired and weary, and my eyes they begin to fail; 

I’ll find rest bye and bye, up there in the sky, 

When I come to the end of the trail.

Dog Pound Picnic, Sports Day, Stampede, Hall and Dance

-- by Dorothy J. Shand pg 426 Big Hill Country 1977

In the early 1900s, the Dog Pound Stampede or Rodeo began as a 24th of May Sunday School picnic, which was held on the flat land of the Botterell Ranch, close by the present Bottrel store. People in the surrounding area soon became very interested in visiting with their neighbours and enjoying the many events associated with horse racing and exhibition bucking horse riding, which were added to the usual foot races, jumping and games. Attendance was either on foot, horseback, or horse-drawn vehicles. 

A few years after Bottrel Store and Post Office opened, the location of the picnic was moved to the Charlie Chouinard ranch located on the NE 14 33-28-4-5. In 1912 this community event was held at the present Dog Pound Stampede grounds on the NE14 3-29-4-5. 

In 1913 the Dog Pound Hall was built and used for community affairs of all descriptions. A judges stand, which was erected near the east end of the hall, was used until the early 1930s. There was a picnic shelter attached to the north side of the hall and though it was “open-air”, it had picnic tables, and food could be purchased and eaten there. A refreshment booth, which served ice cream, candy, lemonade, and many other things, was attached to the west end of the hall. 

In the early years, the Dog Pound Picnic began at 11 a.m. and continued throughout the rest of the day and evening. Many people attend ing took a picnic lunch. Entry to the grounds was from the southeast corner up a steep hill. 

Nearly every family was involved in the sports which included all types of foot races, jumping, tug-of-war and games which started the day and were followed by horse races, stampede events and a ball game in the evening. There was a race track that circled the top of the hill at the grounds. Some of the races which required skillful riding on horseback were: tilting at the ring, egg and spoon race, threading the needle and others too numerous to mention. Competition for prizes in all events was very keen. 

Before corrals, chutes and an arena were built, bucking horses, which were wild horses unaccustomed to being handled, were snubbed to a saddle horn, blindfolded and saddled. The rider mounted, the blindfold was removed and rider and horse competed as they struggled with each other. Riders on trained horses were near in case of need or to pick the rider off if he was still on at the end of the ride. 

The Indians [sic] were an attraction with their very intricately beaded buckskin costumes and wearing very flashy paint. Their colourful tents were erected on the grounds. They conducted Indian [sic] pow-wows, demonstrated their accuracy with bows and arrows and participated in many, if not all, events. Their descendants still compete in the stampede events but they no longer display their tents. 

An announcer, using a megaphone, informed people about what was taking place. 

More recently, an electric public address system, in the announcer’s stand above the chutes at the west end of the arena, allows the announcer to give information with clarity and ease. 

In the very early years of the Dog Pound picnic, a platform was laid down for the open-air “jitney” dance which was held in the late evening. Tickets for the dance were bought at the ticket booth located near the platform, presented and collected upon entering the floor. A cement platform has replaced the original one, and, very recently, instead of buying individual tickets, a flat charge is made, a stamp placed on the hand, and the stamp shown upon entering to dance. The music has always been provided by a live orchestra. 

The Dog Pound Hall became the property of the United Farmers of Alberta who had a very active locally in the area. They had title to the 40 acres which comprised the grounds, and though the U.F.A. didn’t interfere with the management of the hall they legally owned it. This building with its excellent dance floor had served the community well but it was in need of repair. The Busy Beavers, a very active club in the area, were considering the possibility of building a new hall to replace the original one and it was decided the land should belong to the community first. After a continued effort by the local stampede board, with the capable assistance of William Bagnall, Reeve of the County of Mountain View, the U.F.A. gave up the title to this land and building. To fulfill the required regulations a registered association had to be formed to accept the title, so the Dog Pound Agricultural Society was organized. In 1965 the title was transferred but the U.F.A. reserved the oil rights. 

In 1967 the new Quonset type hall was built. The Busy Beavers Club had sponsored a number of community projects to obtain funds. They were also assisted by the Dog Pound Agricultural Society. This new hall is referred to as “the Old Dog Pound Hall” to prevent confusion with the Dog Pound Community Centre at the site which was Dog Pound School. 

In the late 1930s, the foot races and horse races were discontinued and the event became a stampede or rodeo only, which was directed by the local stampede board and commenced at 1 p.m. It was, for as many years as can be remembered now, and still is, held in July. Formerly it was nearly always held the second Wednesday after the Calgary Stampede but recently it is sometimes the first Wednesday after. 

For a number of recent years, the Dog Pound Stampede was affiliated with the Foothills Cowboy Association but has been an amateur show for the last two years. Beginning with a Grand Entry the events include saddle bronc riding bareback riding, calf roping, boys’ steer riding steer wrestling, bull riding, wild cow milking and a wild horse race. All must adhere to rules and regulations with judges and timekeepers busy. Pick up men on fast, trained horses do an excellent job as well as many helpers at the chutes and catch pens. Sometimes the prize money has to be split between contestants. 

Upon completion of the stampede, there is a ball game between two local teams in the early evening, followed by the open-air dance which continues to draw crowds from near and far. 

Concessions on the grounds featuring games of chance, booths serving refreshments, supplemented by meals served in the hall, are all part of the day. Entry to the grounds has been for many years at the southwest corner. Tickets are sold upon reaching the top of the entrance hill. 

Excerpt from Wrigley's Alberta Directory - "Bottrel – 1920

Alberta Government Telephones long distance service – 

William Bercov – Agent Rebecca Bercov – General store 

William Bercov – Postmaster.” “Bottrel – 1928-29 

A.G.T. phones – H. Pearson – agent Ed Arndt — Blacksmith Durward H. Blatchford — farmer William Houghton – trucker Wanda Huston — school teacher 

Harry Pearson – General store, garage, A.G.T. phones and Postmaster 

Patrick Spence — garage mechanic Frank Winchell – fox farm.” “Dog Pound – 1920 

A Post Office – Section 3-29-4-5. Cochrane Provincial Electoral Division. Reached by bi weekly stage from Cochrane on CPR 20 miles south. Atkins nine miles distant is nearest telephone office and has public school. Average value of land is $15. an acre – 40 farmers reside in area. Mixed farming – dairying and stock raising. A.G.T. long distance service. C. A. Grain 

– Postmaster.” “Cochrane — 1890 

Botterell – Proprietor Dog Pound Horse Ranch.”

Exciting Day at Pete Collins’ Brickyard

pg 37, A Peep into the Past Vol 1, Gordon and Belle Hall

Pete Collins’ brickyard was situated about 300 yards directly south of where the old Cochrane Ranche house sat. The house and property at that time was owned by Beynon and Davis, who operated a dairy and pig farm from 1919 until about 1948. However, the year I am writing about was the summer of 1928, which was the last summer the brickyard was in operation. 

The brick factory itself was composed of three brick kilns, 10 drying sheds, a big work shed, a steam engine and a boiler room with a high smokestack about 50 feet in the air. The three kilns were situated facing the spur railway line which crossed the road and came in so that bricks could be loaded directly from the kiln into a boxcar, and I imagine it took a few boxcars to empty a kiln. 

My father worked there also. His job was to dump the car full of clay that was pulled up out of the pit by a winch cable. The car ran on a narrow-gauge track and carried about a yard of clay. This was dumped overhead into the huge mixing machine, which looked like a huge meat grinder. At the bottom of this large machine, two or three men worked. They had moulds that had to be washed and sanded, then a man would stick it into the machine just like a modern tape going into a cassette. When it kicked out, the moulds were packed with clay. This was dumped upside down on a pallet of wooden slats, and there lay the five bricks. The pallets were then wheeled by wheelbarrow to the drying sheds, where they were placed in rows up to about five-feet high. Each shed held 5,000 bricks, 2,500 to a side. The bricks sat there for three days, and on the fourth day, my job was to turn them on edge. I could do about 1 1/2 sheds per day at $3 per shed, which amounted to about $4.50. Gloves were of no use, as a pair would wear out in about an hour, so we used strips of belting from machinery belts, 2 – 3 inches wide and cut slits for our fingers to go through. 

There was a bit of fun with a Chinese cook. It seems the men must have been tormenting him earlier. The cookshack stood close to the boiler room near the creek. Someone was throwing mud balls down the alleys and one went in the cookhouse door. Just as quickly, the Chinese cook came out with a huge carving knife, and he was ready for war, pigtail flying, screaming in Chinese. He cleared everything as he went. I ended up in a kiln, out of sight. The machinery was running, but there wasn’t a man anywhere. Finally, he ran out of wind and went back to the cookhouse. 

Redcliff, down near Medicine Hat, started to make dry-pressed bricks. They could do it faster, and cheaper, and soon put the brickyards like Collins out of business. 

Photo courtesy Wikipedia

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