Brickyards and Stone Quarries

Today’s post is from pg 29 of More Big Hill Country. This section of the book contains histories of early businesses.

The Big Hill Country had many sandstone quarries in the early years and many of the buildings in downtown Calgary are built with this sandstone.

The Shelley Quarry Company opened in 1908 and from 1911 to 1913, three quarries were operating up the valley of Big Hill Creek. Shelley Quarry sandstone was shipped to Calgary for finishing at the Headquarters of the Company. The sandstone was also sent to other parts of Alberta for use in buildings. 

The Glenbow Quarry was operating around the turn of the twentieth century and the Legislature Building and Government House in Edmonton are both constructed of sandstone from the Glenbow and Cochrane Quarries The quality of the sandstone was excellent and the quarries in the area provided much-needed work for many immigrants in the early days. 

In 1891, Tom Cochrane established a brickyard at Mitford which he ran a little over a year. In the late 1890s, Mr. Little established a brickyard and Pete Collins took it over, building the first kiln in 1902. brickyard shut down during WW1 but reopened after the war in 1918 and operated into the 1920s. The French Brickyard was established by E. Perrenoud and J. Boudreau in 1904. Gabriel Bruel bought them out a short time later. In 1914, Mr. Bruel and most of his employees were called back to France to serve in the army. The brickyard was shut down and did not reopen. Then in 1910, Mr. Quigley started a brickyard however it went bankrupt before World War I in 1914.

In 1911, J. Murphy and Mr. Loder established the Cochrane Brick Company and Charlie Burnham bought them out. This brickyard was situated near the intersection of the present Highway 22 and 1A (in the southwest corner). After the war, new sources of Brick were found nearer to Calgary and the brick business in Cochrane ceased. 

Collins Brickyard Cairn

Schools in Cochrane

This old article recently came in CHAPS possession.  The original photo was taken by Ed Arrol, a teacher at the school.

This article was written during the Covid-19 pandemic so the resources of the Cochrane Historical Museum have not been available. Fortunately, CHAPS recently started using G SUITE which converts pdf files to text. This allowed me to convert the article “Schools in Cochrane” on page 127 in More Big Hill Country for use in this post.

In the late 1890s, James Quigley and Donald Bruce decided that a school was needed in the Hamlet of Cochrane. They had enough children between them of school age and there were some of the Hewitt children ready for school as well so the application was made for a school and a one-room building was erected in the east end of Cochrane. The first teacher was Mr. George Bevan. 

The school soon became too small so the school, formerly the saloon, from Mitford, was moved to Cochrane and placed on the Grayson/Bruce property on what is presently Centre Avenue. The building was placed facing north and south and became a school for the small children around 1900. This building was later bought by the Masonic Lodge and is currently their home. 

These two buildings appear to have served the hamlet until 1918 when a two-room Brick School was built on Main Street near the present Holy Spirit School. In 1926 a second storey with two more rooms was added to the Brick School and the little school was used as a gymnasium for the children. It is said that there were sets of boxing gloves hanging on the wall of this small gymnasium and many of the boys learned to box there. 

This arrangement seemed to be fine for the population attending the Cochrane School until, as the population increased and roads were being built, it became necessary to have more room. In the late 1940s or early 1950s, a white clapboard sided one-room school was moved onto the property near the Brick School and this little school was used until about 1956. From 1957 to 1961 grades five and six were taught in the “white school” as it was called. It was later moved to the outdoor skating rink in Cochrane’s east end and was used for many years as the rink house. 

It was during this time that the number of children in the town was increasing and one-room schools were starting to close so some of the parents of the children and other citizens in Cochrane facilitated the building of a new elementary school on the Main Street site. Many children had to go to Calgary for high school as it was not being taught in Cochrane. These parents succeeded in getting a new school built to house all the students. At this time around 1955-1956, Mr. Grant was teaching grades nine and ten in the basement of the Community Hall. They used the upstairs for their gymnasium. 

The new Cochrane Elementary School was built in 1957 and it housed grades one to four. It had six rooms and a gymnasium and grades five and six were housed in the little white school. Grades seven, eight and nine were in the old Brick School and during this time the Cochrane School Board and the parents were working on plans for a larger school. In 1958 there were 250 students in grades one to twelve. 

The new Cochrane High School opened for the 1962-63 season and it offered grades nine, ten, eleven and twelve. By 1968-1969 construction began on a new elementary school addition to joining the Cochrane Elementary School. Construction was going along well on the new addition being added to the east end of the elementary school and the contractors had large propane tanks and their new construction area covered with tarps so that the cement would not freeze and work could continue through the colder months. One night a wind got up and blew the tarps onto the propane tanks and a large explosion took place. It did not damage the new building site but managed to move the old Brick School off its foundation. This then proved another problem, 

“Where do we put these students?”?

 The grade five and six classes were scheduled to move into the Brick School but that could not happen now as the old school had to be dismantled and removed from the site. These classes remained at Cochrane Elementary and in grade seven they were moved up to the High School. It was a scary thing to have to move up to that big school however they had a party at one of the homes where all the kids and a lot of parents gathered. Mr. Sly, a teacher from the High School came and they all got to know each other and support each other during this “BIG” move to the new big school up on the hill. 

The new elementary school was completed and officially opened in 1968-1970 with a new name, Andrew Sibbald Elementary School. The school was named after Andrew Sibbald, the first school teacher in Alberta who had come to Morleyville. The school now had a Library, a Science Room, a large double room, new administration offices and new entrances. It looked after students from grades one to six until Manachaban Middle School was opened in 1972. The name Manachaban was also chosen in a contest open to everyone, students, town and surrounding area residents. Manachaban means a hill of bows and arrows and is very fitting for that location. 

Shortly after Andrew Sibbald School opened portable classrooms had to be added to the north side for Mrs. Eddie Edge and Mr. Gunn to teach Math. Bruce Davies, Vice Principal and John Edwards taught science, Miss Armstrong, music, Mrs. Nu, Ed Errol and Jim Jenkins, Principal had classrooms in the new wing. The old wing was redecorated and Mrs. Otteson, Mrs. McPherson, Miss Bennett, Mrs. Scott, Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Elliot enjoyed the teacher’s lounge, the library and all the other up-to-date facilities. 

Many students passed through the doors of Andrew Sibbald Elementary School and the other Cochrane schools before it. More schools have been built as the town has grown adding Elizabeth Barrett, named after the first woman school teacher in Alberta who also came to Morleyville, an addition to Cochrane High School, Glenbow Elementary, Mitford School, Bow Valley High School and St. Timothy High School. Sadly. Andrew Sibbald School closed and was sold to the Catholic School System and is now Holy Spirit School. It is hoped that when a new school is built in Cochrane it will be named after Andrew Sibbald. As Andrew Sibbald taught in this area first it would be a great tribute to our history

Cochrane Legacy Statue

March is Women’s History Month. In light of that, I thought I’d research the “Chicken Lady” statue on main street Cochrane. Certainly not a complete list, the friends and families of 40 women had their names added to the base of the statue.

The sculptors are Don & Shirley Begg and the statue cast by Studio West here in town.

A Project of the Cochrane Centennial Celebrations Society. Unveiled June 17, 2003.  On the occasion of Cochrane’s 100th Birthday

A tribute to the women of character and perseverance who have built and nurtured the social fabric of our community. Those whose names are inscribed in the base have been so honored by the contributions of their families and friends. They represent generations of women whose hard work laid the foundation for the life of this community.

The project was also made possible by the contributions of the Cochrane and District Community Foundation, Fred Whittle, and the Cochrane Rotary Club.

Sculptors Don & Shirley Begg created this bronze statue of a woman feeding chickens as a tribute to prairie farm women. The original statue, “Egg Money”, is in Fish Creek Provincial Park, Calgary, Alberta. It includes the figures of a boy and a girl. This statue, and a second one in Saskatoon, are based on Egg Money.

Names are impressed into the base of the statue:

Violet DesJardins

Rose McGonigle

Eleanor (McArthur) Berwick

Sarah (Ellis) Edge

Mabel Robena Turner

Gertrude Copithorne

Annabelle (Quigley) MacKay

Mildred Camden

Helen Scott

Mary Crowe

Edith (Callaway) Towers

Annie Beynon

Jemima "Mamie" Callaway

Lady Adela Cochrane

Janet (Johnston) Sibbald

Amy Begg

Letha Whittle

Susanna Nagy

Ethel Margaret (Munro) Crawford

Bertha Harbidge

Ida (Brodie) Edge

Christine Jacobs

Glendale Women's Institute est 1925

Winnie Wearmouth

Emily Lathwell

Yvonne Callaway

Sophia Beynon

Flora Garson

Vernice (Towers) Wearmouth

Marjorie Spicer

Ellen (Ullery) Bryant

Christina Smith MacKay

Jessie Louise Bateman

Isobel (Allan) Fenton

Alice Miriam Callaway

Betty (Hanes) Birchall

Claudia Edge

Nan Boothby



Cochrane Today has an article on the original model for the statue here.

Cochrane 2003 Centennial Calendar

One of the treasures we recently received from Edith Edge is a calendar from not too long ago.  It’s a calendar from Cochrane’s 100th anniversary. Produced by the Centennial Committee assisted by the Town Of Cochrane and CHAPS it contains some fascinating information about our history.

We’ll give an overview here and each month display the calendar from that month on our social media pages.

Click image for larger view

There are so many changes since 2003.  It’s also nice to place what used to exist with what exists now! The Murphy Hotel sat where the Royal Bank is now.

Click image for larger view

Cochrane became a village in 1903.

1908 A small pox epidemic caused isolation tents to be setup near the river.

1909 Davies house built that became first hospital.

2002 Population at census 12,074


Recovering from the flood, Looking forward

Our exhibits this summer are really coming together. We cant wait to show you.

All our exhibits will reflect how horses impacted the growth of our town. We’re certain well have some facts that you didn’t know.

This past year has been a challenge with 2 floods of the Cochrane Ranche. The Museum is put back together but we’re still working on restoring or replacing some of our exhibits. Here is a slide show that shows our progress.


Famous Cochrane Horses

Article by: Tim Collard & Mark Boothby

This article was published in the Cochrane Times March 4th, 2020

CHAPS exhibits at the Cochrane Historical Museum for the 2020 season will be on the impact of horses on the town and area. From the practical use of horses to horse racing, polo, steeplechase, rodeo and serving in World War 1 many famous horses were raised in the area. This article focuses on race horses and will be the first of several. Photos courtesy of the Glenbow Archives.

“The Dude”:

Owned by D.W. Kerfoot, The Dude won one of the first recorded horse races in Cochrane. In 1891, W.D. Kerfoot and his brother-in-law, William Bell-Irving, competed in a match race which Kerfoot won by a nose. The Dude was the first of many Kerfoot horses to win races in Cochrane.


Purported to be the first thoroughbred in the North West Territories (then comprising Alberta and Saskatchewan) Konrad (sometimes spelled Conrad) was imported from England by the Bow River Horse Ranch around 1886. Konrad and another horse called Moss Trooper were the first thoroughbred sires used in the Cochrane District.

“Dixie Land”:

Dixie Land was another Kerfoot horse. In 1895, Kerfoot won races at both the Cochrane and Mitford race meet and the Calgary race meet onboard Dixie Land. The horse would go on to win races across the continent, including in Winnipeg and San Francisco before eventually being sold and shipped to Australia where it continued to win races on the Australian racing circuit.


Cyclone was bred by G.E. Goddard of the Bow River Horse Ranch and was the offspring of another famous horse imported by the Bow River Horse Ranch, “Juryman” who had won the Belmont Stakes before being imported to the Cochrane area. Goddard raced Cyclone as a two-year-old before selling him to A.J. Murphy of Cochrane in the 1890s, Cyclone and Dixie Land were the most famous racehorses in the West. Cyclone won almost every race he entered, with victories in Cochrane, Calgary, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Grand Forks, ND, and Windsor. Sporting Murphy’s green and gold silks, Cyclone was one of the most successful horses to come out of the Cochrane area.


Another famous Cochrane horse, Smokey, owned by D.P. McDonald, was famous for his jumping ability. In 1914, at the Calgary Horse Show, 17-year-old Smokey set a record for the highest jump by an Alberta bred horse when he cleared a seven-foot hurdle with Cochrane boy, Percy Sawtell, riding him. This was Smokey’s last public appearance and his record stood until 1925. Though Smokey rose to prominence under the ownership of D.P. McDonald, Smokey was bred on the Kerfoot ranch before being sold to D.P. McDonald.

Remembering Library Founders

Once called the Nan Boothby Memorial Library, now the Cochrane Public Library, CHAPS held a meeting last night to gather information on the original volunteers who established and maintained the Library.

Thanks to Fay Lewis, David Beatty and Gordon Davies who gave their families history of how the library came into being, why it was so vital to a small community and how a group of volunteers gave it life. 


David Beatty, Fay Lewis, Gordon Davies

Our goal is to put together a history for the Museum as well as to present the information to the Library Board in April.

Signage when called the Nan

Pat Hutchinson Interview

CHAPS is searching for family histories before those memories are lost. We are attempting to record family stories in 5-10 minute videos.

If you’d like to participate please get in touch.

Pat has provided us with interesting photos of the Hutchinson and Perrenoud homesteads north of Cochrane. We’ll put this information in a video in the future.

Thresher at Perrenoud's
Steel wheeled tractor

Cochrane Cafe

I came across this menu from the Cafe on my desk this morning. The Cafe was such a Cochrane favourite that I want to share. I’ll also see if the Museum wants it as an artifact. The menu was from February 2015. Interesting that the directions are from Mackay’s.

Getting off the ranch for a meal, even one so close as ours was a real treat. I can’t imagine how many Ginger Beef and fried rice I had.

Grand Valley Steeplechase

It is written about on page 54 of the Big Hill Country.  We are interested in more details of the steeplechase,  but also would like to see if we can get the “Presidents Trophy” for inclusion in the equine exhibit next summer.
We’ve heard the “Presidents Trophy” may be held by Tim Lawrence who was once living on a ranch east of Red Deer.  
If you have a story about the Grand Valley Steeplechase or know of the whereabouts of the Trophy, please give us a call at 587-777-6926 
Steeplechase at Cochrane - photo courtesey Glenbow Archives

Does Research interest you?

CHAPS can use your help. Just get in touch.

Cochrane Lions Rodeo History

Cochrane Lions and CHAPS held a joint event at the Cochrane History Museum last night. The topic was about the history of the Cochrane Lions Rodeo which has been a local favourite since the mid-60s.

Thanks to Ted Westerson and Keith Garner for their wonderful stories of the rodeo and Cochrane.

Cochrane Lions have allowed us to copy the photos used. Ask if you’d like to take a closer look.

Team Roping

Cochrane Ranche Photo Gallery

Larry Want received some photos of the Cochrane Ranche and area from the Stockmen’s. We had them on display at our Christmas celebration. We’ve scanned them and made them available here.

The feature photo is one of the few I’ve seen of the Cochrane Ranche herd. (1882/83)

All photos courtesy of Glenbow Archives.

The photos are:

  1. Bow River Ranch Dining Room
  2. John Beams 12 miles north of Cochrane
  3.  Grand Stand 
  4. Howard Chapman’s General Store 1904
  5. Rev. Wood Sam Wigmire Morley late 1800’s
  6. Picnic Grand Valley Kerfoots mounted
  7. Main Street 1890
  8. Cochrane no year listed

Thank you Cochrane Foundation!

CHAPS wants to thank the Cochrane Foundation for their support. We just had a grant approved that we’ll use to improve our exhibit cabinets. We’ll celebrate with the rest of the grant receivers later this spring.

You’re invited to come out to the Museum and see the results when we open for the spring/summer season.

If you’d like to know more about the Cochrane Foundation and the work they do click the button.

A Question of Why? – Warren Harbeck

Warren Harbeck talks about his long-running newspaper article from when Cochrane was a small town of 13 or 14 thousand. He talks about the spirit of small-town Alberta and has a nice story of Bil Keane (Author of the Family Circus). He mentions other highlights of his column and a world renown astronomer.

Is there a Hot Chocolate with Warren?
Click image to read about Father Lucien Kemble

Has Harry become a “Remittance Man?”

Of course not. Although, the current headlines made me smile when I jokingly drew the similarity to earlier times. There was a time before W.W. 1 when British families sent wayward sons to Canada and paid them a monthly stipend.

Remittance Man, a term once widely used, especially in the West before WWI, for an immigrant living in Canada on funds remitted by his family in England, usually to ensure that he would not return home and become a source of embarrassment.

John Colombo - The Canadian Enclycopedia Tweet

I remember stories from Dad about local remittance men. It sounded as though they led very interesting lives. 

The following poem confirms that some of their lives were better for it.

There's a four-pronged buck a-swinging in the shadow of my cabin, And it roamed the velvet valley till to-day; But I tracked it by the river, and I trailed it in the cover, And I killed it on the mountain miles away. Now I've had my lazy supper, and the level sun is gleaming On the water where the silver salmon play; And I light my little corn-cob, and I linger, softly dreaming, In the twilight, of a land that's far away. Far away, so faint and far, is flaming London, fevered Paris, That I fancy I have gained another star; Far away the din and hurry, far away the sin and worry, Far away — God knows they cannot be too far. Gilded galley-slaves of Mammon — how my purse-proud brothers taunt me! I might have been as well-to-do as they Had I clutched like them my chances, learned their wisdom, crushed my fancies, Starved my soul and gone to business every day. Well, the cherry bends with blossom and the vivid grass is springing, And the star-like lily nestles in the green; And the frogs their joys are singing, and my heart in tune is ringing, And it doesn't matter what I might have been. While above the scented pine-gloom, piling heights of golden glory, The sun-god paints his canvas in the west, I can couch me deep in clover, I can listen to the story Of the lazy, lapping water — it is best. While the trout leaps in the river, and the blue grouse thrills the cover, And the frozen snow betrays the panther's track, And the robin greets the dayspring with the rapture of a lover, I am happy, and I'll nevermore go back. For I know I'd just be longing for the little old log cabin, With the morning-glory clinging to the door, Till I loathed the city places, cursed the care on all the faces, Turned my back on lazar London evermore. So send me far from Lombard Street, and write me down a failure; Put a little in my purse and leave me free. Say: "He turned from Fortune's offering to follow up a pale lure, He is one of us no longer — let him be." I am one of you no longer; by the trails my feet have broken, The dizzy peaks I've scaled, the camp-fire's glow; By the lonely seas I've sailed in — yea, the final word is spoken, I am signed and sealed to nature. Be it so.
Robert W. Service
The Rhyme of the Remittance Man

Intro to Cochrane Ranche Archaeology

Through our collaboration with the Stockmen’s Association we came across photos of the archaeological dig at the Ranche summer of 1977.

It’s very exciting to see these photos. We’ll dig deeper into the results in a future blog. For now, here are just a small sample.

The Ranche was nearly 4 Townships in size

Cochrane Ranche is an important historic site in Western Canada. As the first attempt at a large-scale ranching operation, the ranch may have provided only modest returns for its investors; but for Western Canada the experimentation and developments encouraged more ranching that was to provide a foundation for the future. -

Roderick Heitzmann​ - Author of Study Tweet
The bunkhouse and Managers residence were studied

Thousands of artifacts were recovered. The dig was summarized in the following document.


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