We’d like to have some fun and learn a little more of our colourful local history. Please share one of your favourite family photos on our Facebook page. Remember to include some details about why it’s an important memory.
Bill Watts of Ottawa recently asked if we knew of the Inglis Ranch. Frank Hennessey did some research and found an article in Big Hill Country.
CAPTAIN AND MRS. INGLIS – by Jo Hutchinson
William Mason Inglis, who was generally known as Captain Inglis, owned land north of Cochrane along Beaver Dam Creek. He received title to SW1/4 17-28-3-5 in 1907, the S 1/2 of section 8 in the same township in 1908, and the adjoining NW1/4 in 1912. This land is now the property of the Jansen family. It should be understood that he could have been living on his land, and possibly homesteading a part of it, a number of years before the title was registered. He received title to SW1/4 32-27-3-5 in 1910, and sold it to Ernie Bell the following year.
Captain Inglis was a veteran of the Boer War. His army saddle, that shows the mark of bullets, is now owned by Walter Hutchinson. It may be presumed that Captain Inglis left the Cochrane area to serve in the Boer War, since he did live here before its outbreak in 1899.
He was a prominent Thoroughbred breeder and at one time is believed to have a had a race track on his land, although it was probably only used by him, and his neighbour, R. F. Bevan. Captain Inglis took an active part in the operation of the Cochrane race track; he also entered horses in the races, and on occasion, rode in events himself,
During World War One Captain Inglis sold a number of horses to the Canadian Army for use in cavalry regiments. He and R. F. Bevan would trail the horses to Cochrane, where they were purchased by Army representatives and shipped by train to the East.
Records of All Saints Anglican Church, Cochrane, show that Captain Inglis was appointed to the Vestry in 1899, serving as People’s Warden. As he lived about 25 miles from Mitford, where the church was located until later that year, attendance at church would have been dependent upon a fast team on the buggy, or a good saddlehorse. Communication with the far-flung parishioners would have been difficult, too, without the benefit of telephones or automobiles.
Captain and Mrs. Inglis had three children, Ian, Robin and Evelyn. He sold out during the early 1920s, and it is believed that the family returned to England. Attempts at locating the family have proved unsuccessful.
The Inglis family are remembered north of Cochrane; when a Post Office was opened at McCrady’s, it was officially named Inglis. The school district that was organized in that area was also named Inglis. The site chosen for Inglis School was on land originally owned by Captain Inglis.
ROBERT INGLIS – by Jo Hutchinson
Robert Chalmers Inglis received title to NW14 16-28-3-5 in 1891. The title was transferred to R. F. Bevan in 1898, and the land is now the property of the Leonard Beddoes family.
It is believed that Robert (Bob) Inglis was related to Captain Inglis, and that he was a bachelor. There may have been several members of the Inglis family living in the Calgary area around 1900, since there are seven people by that name listed in the 1907 Brand Registry, all of whose addresses were listed as either Okotoks or Calgary.
INGLIS SCHOOL – by D. M. McDonald
The Inglis School District was formed in 1917, after a great deal of debate between the parents of school-age children and the many local residents who had none. Ernie Bell, who had three school-age children, and the Irish Kings, also with three, were the chief advocates for the formation of a new school district, as the nearest schools to these families were Weedon, Summit Hill or Lochend. After much discussion with Alberta Government representatives, the district was formed, and was named Inglis in honor of Captain Inglis, a veteran of the Boer War, and a local resident.
In the spring of 1917, the contract to build the school was let to Dan Fenton, and by the fall of that year the school was ready to open. It was the first of the new style of schools that was built in the Cochrane area. Most of one side of the school was windows.
The first teacher was Miss Ruby Wood, from Calgary. She boarded with the Ernie Bells, who just lived down the hill below the school, which was located on the SW corner of the Bell’s land, the SW14 32-37-3-5. The first pupils to enroll were three of the Irish King children, three of the Bells, the two Malcolm girls, John Milligan, Eric North and Douglas McDonald. The only one of these students in the Cochrane district at the present time is John Milligan.
The Bells moved away shortly after the school was opened. Eric North, who had been staying with the Bells, also left, so the enrollment was sharply reduced, then the Ferguson family moved into the district; they had two school-age girls who attended. There was never a large enrollment at Inglis School, and it was closed periodically owing to a lack of students. At one time it was kept open for four students.
Miss Lila Webster from Cochrane taught at Inglis for a time. She later married Tom Cairns. Miss Collier boarded with Mr. and Mrs. Angus McDonald while she taught there; Miss Janet Smith, who was related to the McCradys, boarded with them. She married Harry Jones. Miss Eva Whittle, who later married Ernie Peppard, boarded with the Edgar Youngs. As far as is known, other teachers at Inglis, not necessarily named in order, were Mr. Millar, Miss Wilson, and Miss Catherine Zuccolo.
Angus McDonald and Ab McCrady were among those who took an active part in the operation of the school, serving as trustees for many years.
The Inglis School was moved to Cochrane and used as an auxiliary classroom during the late 1940s. Later it was moved to the skating rink, to be used as a dressing room for several years.
Update from Bill Watts
FYI – he’s buried at Calgary, died suddenly in 1912. He was wounded in action in the Boer War (shot in the leg).
Heritage Day is the first Monday in August. How did you spend yours?
Some of our members chose to volunteer a few hours and did some much needed yard work around the Cochrane Historical Museum. Thanks to Shannon, Gayle and Larry who have been devoted members for approx. 20 years. They worked on weeding and seeding the berm we put up to protect the Museum from and future flooding.
Do you have a few hours a month? Why not volunteer with CHAPS and contribute to the cultural heritage of our area. We have many roles to fill.
This article originally appeared in More Big Hill Country 1999, Page 99.
In the early days in the Cochrane area, the spiritual needs of the community around the countryside were served by a visiting minister. Neighbours gathered in a local home and services were generally held by a son or a visiting minister who would arrive by horse and buggy or on horseback.
The Bow River, in the Cochrane, Mitford, Morley area were proved a bit of a disadvantage as there were no bridges to cross and everyone had to rely on certain areas that were safe enough to ford and that the river was low at the time. However, it appears that the people met regularly in various homes to worship, whether the Minister or Priest was present, or not.
With the growing community of Mitford, it appears that people were meeting in a building or home at Mitford. It was decided to petition the Bishop of Calgary for permission to build an Anglican Church at Mitford, Rupert’s Land.
Thus Lady Adela Cochrane (no relation to Cochrane Ranche) and other residents of the nearby district began the one hundred and fourteen-year history of All Saints Anglican Church in 1891.
“To the Right Reverend Father in God, Cyprian, by Devine Permission, Bishop of Calgary:
“The humble petitions of the Rev. W.F. Webb, BA, Curate-in-Charge, Thomas Cochrane, Lady Adela Cochrane, Robert Cowan, Frank White, W.D. Kerfoot and others, resident of the mission district of Mitford, Alberta, N.W.T., whose names and signatures are hereunto subscribed, for themselves, and in the name of the members of the Church of England in Rupert’s Land residing in and around Mitford … members of All Saints Congregation, within Your Lordship’s Diocese and jurisdiction showeth:
“That a certain parcel of land containing half an acre, as fully described in deed of same, has been given absolutely and entirely by Thomas B. Cochrane and William Brabizon Lindsay Toler, Earl of Norbury, Trustees of the Canada Northwest Coal and Lumber Syndicate Limited, for purposes of a burial ground and erection of a church in connection with the Church of England in Rupert’s Land and are desirous to have it set apart from all profane and common use whatsoever.
Your Petitioners, therefore, in their own names and the names of the constituents, do humbly beseech Almighty God to accept of this their sincere intent and purpose and do humbly pray that your Lordship will be pleased to separate the said portion of land from all profane uses and to dedicate and consecrate the same for the purposes of Christian burial in connection with the Parish of All Saints Mitford.”
“And your petitioners will ever pray.”
The following signatures are listed on the petition: W.F. Webb, B.A., Thomas B.H. Cochrane, Adela Cochrane, Adriana Macbean Kerfoot, W.D. Kerfoot, Ella M. Cowan, Robert W. Cowan, F. White, H.C. Hickling.
Bishop Pinkham evidently received the petition favourably for, in 1892, All Saints Anglican Church was built at Mitford.
Lady Adela Cochrane was instrumental in raising money for the church’s construction. She collected many funds in England and a grant of twenty pounds sterling was sent by the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge in England. A few parishioners also gave donations.
The site chosen was on the north side of the Bow River, on a small hill, northeast of the few houses and buildings that already existed. The building was constructed of native wood from Tom Cochrane’s sawmill. The total cost was fifteen hundred dollars and most of the work was probably done by volunteer labour. Eleven pews, the altar and lectern were built by Tom Cochrane, Stephen Brisco made the motto, “Cease not to give thanks” which was hung above the altar. Some years later, the motto was carved on a piece of polished wood and hung in place of the original.
Stained glass windows were shipped out from England and Lady Adela’s friends and relations contributed many of the furnishings. The beautifully carved Bishop’s chair was given by Mrs. King, who lived in the Beaupre district in later years. The carved seat at the back of the church was one of Lady Adela’s gifts. A purple cloth was embroidered by Mrs. John Phipps and the white Communion cloth was given by Lady Adela’s sister. Mrs. Hickling embroidered a white silk cloth. A Communion Set was given by Mrs. Carr Rayden, mother of James Rayden, who homesteaded on Horse Creek. Mrs. Rayden may also have given the pair of candlesticks.
Like other pioneer churches in Alberta at the time, All Saints was a very simple structure. One storey, fifteen wide by thirty feet long, it is a rectangular, steeply pitched gable-roofed structure with ship-lap wood siding. The church building is distinguished by the quality of workmanship on both the exterior and the interior. A bell and tower summoned the parishioners to church.
The new church was consecrated on All Saints Day, November 1, 1892, with Bishop Pinkham, Rev. Webb and Rev. Cooper in attendance. The churchyard was also consecrated at that time. The records show that the first baptism was held on October 23, 1892, when James William, infant son of Walter and Frances Jones was christened in the new church. Service was conducted by Rev. A.W. Cooper, Rural Dean of Calgary and his sponsors were Alfred Foster and Annie Shaw. The Parish register lists twenty-four other children baptized at All Saints, Mitford.
The history of All Saints Church is to a great extent recorded in the minutes of meetings held since January 1, 1893. On January 1, at the closing of Divine Service, a meeting with the Rev. Cooper, Rural Dean of Calgary in the Chair, was held with the following steps taken for the purpose of the organization: the Chairman appointed Mr. Thomas B. Cochrane as Incumbent’s Warden and the parishioners elected Mr. Frank White, Merino Ranch, People’s Warden. The following were elected Vestrymen: Mr. Horace Hickling, Mr. R.W. Cowan, and Mr. S. Hambly
The minutes of 1894 were not copied into the Minute Book and it was found impossible to hold a meeting in 1895. However, at a meeting of the parishioners on May 10, 1896, it was moved by R.W. Cowan and seconded by R. Smith that the churchyard be surveyed and laid out in a proper manner for a permanent burying ground. Again in 1897 and 1898 no minutes were entered in the minute book thus information of the church at Mitford is scant.
Records do show however that the only Confirmation Service conducted at All Saints Mitford was held on December 1, 1895. The candidates were John Haigh, Mary Alice Haigh, Thomas Haigh, Walter George Bestwick, Laura Phipps and George Wills. The Bishop of Calgary, Right Reverend Cyprian Pinkham conducted the service. There were five marriages solemnized at all Saints Church, Mitford. The first was that of William Gray and Maggie McMullan, both of Springbank on April 23, 1893, then; Andrew Franklin Sibbald of Morley and Janet Emily Johnstone of Cochrane, on November 23, 1893; Charles Mortimer and Emily Wainwright, both of Mitford were married on June 11, 1894 and on December 26, 1893 was James Sweet Carr Rayden and Agnes Evelyn Phipps. The last couple married at All Saints Mitford was Richard Copithorne of Jumping Pound and Sophia Wills of Springbank on June 12, 1895. Rev. W.F. Webb officiated at all the services. Rev. Webb also conducted the first marriage ceremony after All Saints was moved to Cochrane when Charles Perrenoud and Laura Phipps were married on April 2, 1902.
According to the Register of Burials, the first burial to take place at Mitford was that of Francis Bell-Irving aged three, who died on March 21, 1896. Two burial services had been conducted at all Mitford, those of Elizabeth and Clara Webb. on March 19 and May 8, 1894, respectively, but interred near the Elbow River. Reason given: no cemetery near. Mitford cemetery was used until 1910 the burial being that of Francis Coombes on Jun 22 1910. Others buried in the Mitford cemetery are:
- William Joseph Wade, 1859 – 1896;
- Peter Robert Wainwright 1846-1899;
- Mary E. Wainwright, 1846 – 1900;
- George Bevan, 1837 – 1901;
- infant McEwan, 1901:
- Richard Smith, 1858 – 1902,;
- infants Evelyn Annie and Mary Elizabeth Townsend, 1902;
- Frank Woodhead. 1905.
- James William Jones, 1892 – 1905;
- John William 1873 – 1909.
The years 1890 and 1899 proved to be fateful for Mitford as a disastrous fire swept through the area destroying many buildings and causing a large number of people to leave.
By 1896 the Cochrane’s had returned to England and the All Saints Records indicate that the Parish of All Saints almost died with the town of Mitford. Finances were low, church attendance was poor as no doubt many of the original supporters of the church had already left the area.
At the Annual Meeting on April 2, 1899, the parishioners of All Saints decided, at the urging of their priest, the Reverend W.Eugene-Perrin, to move the church to the little village of Cochrane.
“The Chairman then stated that since the town of Mitford was dead and All Saints Church left alone by itself, he had sounded the feeling of the people with regard to its removal to Cochrane; the Bishop had just telegraphed authority for the removal and the Cochrane Townsite Co. had presented a lot. It was next decided (for the Bishop’s approval) that the name of the Parish should be changed from All Saints Mitford to All Saints Cochrane.”
No records remain to indicate who was involved in moving the church building however it was almost certain that it was volunteers. Twelve teams of horses were used and that the building was transported on to rollers, to what was to become, in time, the corner Second Avenue and Second Street in Cochrane.” land had formerly been designated as CPR land was donated to the Town in 1902. It was a slow arduous task as each log would have been removed from behind the building and placed in front of it as the church rolled over the logs. One observer related the difficulties involved when the church got stuck on the Big Hill Creek Bridge, west of Cochrane. This is certainly possible but not a proven fact. Various other reports suggest there
was a considerable delay and a great deal of difficulty involved in the move. Lady Adela Cochrane, then living England, is said to have refused to believe that Mitford was dead and vigorously opposed the removal of the church.
At any rate, the records show that the first service following relocation of the church was held on April 30. just twenty-eight days after the decision to move it was made.
From the Minute Book:
On the fourth Sunday after Easter, April 30, 1899, His Lordship Cyprian (Right Reverend Bishop Cuprian Pinkham) Calgary, reopened the Parish of All Saints Church Cochrane, which had been moved the previous week from Mitford. The congregation numbered thirty-two. This was due to a stiff blizzard and snow which may be calculated by the fact that it took Richard Smith and George Reid four hours to come from two miles the other side of the Phipps ranch to attend the baptism of R.Smith’s son. The incumbent drove His Lordship to Calgary at 4:30 pm, the blizzard still blowing.”
In 1899, Cochrane consisted of a few buildings scattered along main street paralleling the railway line. All Saints rested alone on the treeless, undeveloped flatland to the north of the existing buildings.
Following the relocation of the church and the renaming of the parish to All Saints Cochrane, the records show many ups and downs in the finances, attendance and other affairs of the parish through the year.
After 1905 a new trend became evident: for the first time, ladies were present, and took part in the business of the meetings. However, their presence was not officially recognized until the annual meeting of 1908 when the ladies were allowed to vote in matters of the church.
This was long before women were allowed the vote by law.
As the population of Cochrane grew and the church became more established, All Saints became home to a Missionary Society, a Sunday school and an Anglican Church Women’s group, known as the Ladies’ Guild. The first mention of the Ladies Guild was made in the minutes of a meeting held on July 30, 1909.
Between 1909 and 1913, many members of the Ladies’ Guild (mostly rancher’s wives) left town. This was likely due to the fact that rural families no longer had to live in the town during the school year now that rural school districts were being established.
Luckily, the women’s commitment to the church was strong even without representation.
All Saints parish and the wider community of Cochran suffered many financial hardships in the years following the church’s relocation and it was largely thanks to the parish ladies that the church community was able to struggle on. Money had to be found for repairs, insurance, lighting and the priest’s stipend.
Much of the necessary maintenance work was carried out by volunteers from the parish but many times the Ladies Guild raised funds to cover church expenses such as those needed for a stone foundation in 1905, and a much needed exterior paint job in 1911. The ladies did this, as they do now, by entertaining, holding “box socials” (where decorated lunch-boxes were auctioned off to the highest bidder), concerts and other entertainments. Later the ladies took on the extra cost of insurance premiums, incurred after electricity was installed in the church.
The First World War took its toll, as described by the Reverend J.P. Dingle:
“1916 was for us a year of just carrying and keeping things going. We feel the loss of familiar faces, some removed by death, others away doing their duty. Our church has been hard hit by the war in many ways.”
Electricity was finally installed in 1914, but at times the supply was cut off “until further notice” because of unpaid bills.
After the war came the Depression and parish finances remained in very poor shape. In 1930 the Books showed a balance of $1.43. As usual, any urgent maintenance work was done by members of the Parish to save money.
In 1921 the church was closed for six months due to lack of funds and again in 1953 after sharing a priest with Canmore and having a service every other Sunday, the church was closed for two years. Likely this was due to the difficulty of finding a priest to conduct services in Cochrane.
The Ladies’ Guild never ceased to exist but was officially re-established at All Saints in 1954 as the Anglican Church Women. It was strong and active for many years contributing greatly to the financial and social needs of the parish.
In 1956 Cochrane became part of the parish of Exshaw and Canmore and once a month services were officiated by the Reverend O. Foster, the incumbent at Canmore. When the Reverend T.F Wright took over St. Michael’s in Canmore services in Cochrane became more frequent until he was taking regular weekly services as well as celebrating Holy Communion on All Saints days and other occasions. The Cochrane Masonic Lodge presented an organ to the church in 1958.
By 1963, there were seventy families on the parish roll and a Sunday school had been established. The parish budget rose from $300 to $2500 and many improvements were made to the church. A new gas furnace was installed, the wood floors sanded and refinished, a carpet was laid and the exterior was repainted.
It was not until 1966, and a decision to invest in a rectory, that the parish of All Saints Cochrane finally acquired its own incumbent priest. This was a discussion that had been ongoing since 1909. Finally, in 1966, a rectory was purchased and the Rev. Douglas Blackwell and his family moved into 110 Cochrane Crescent. Subsequent residents in the rectory were Rev. Alan Howes (1970 1972) and Canon Leonard Hill (1972-1978). In 1978, the parishioners had a mortgage burning ceremony when the rectory was fully paid for and they put a torch to the last bill.
The Rev. David Asher followed Canon Hill in December 1978 as a deacon and then remained as a priest in charge from 1979–1981. Bishop Douglas Ford arrived in October 1981, having recently retired as Bishop of Saskatoon. He and his wife Dorothy remained in the rectory during the four years of his incumbency.
A much-needed parish hall was built onto the original church structure in 1984 during Bishop Ford’s tenure. It was named Ford Hall in his honour.
Succeeding Bishop Ford in 1985, the Reverend Richard Lemmon served All Saints as parish priest until 1990 when the Reverend Derek Dunwoody came to us from Ireland, via Winnipeg and Didsbury. Since he did not need the rectory it was sold and the proceedings were put into a Diocesan Trust Fund for future use. Derek Dunwoody’s focus during his incumbency was to introduce parishioners to some of the ideas of more modern Christian thinkers and to some of the ways in which the Anglican Church is evolving.
In 1992, the members of All Saints celebrated the 100th anniversary of their church’s consecration. The celebration kicked off with a pancake community hall, followed by a wonderful special service of commemoration with soul-inspiring music.
It was soon after this milestone that the congregation and vestry members decided to work with a consultant to help them re-examine the parish’s mission and role in the community. After exhaustive discussion, several surveys and many evening meetings at homes the congregation envisioned All Saints as “a thriving and expanding Christian community embodying God’s welcoming presence and offering healing, hope and inspiration to those who seek them.”
In 1999. All Saint’s celebrated another centennial, anniversary of the church’s “rebirth” as the Anglican parish church of Cochrane, Alberta. Over the previous 100 years, the 15 by 30-foot building had become a focal point of downtown Cochrane, one of the oldest surviving buildings in a town whose population exceeded 10.000 people.
Although the church still served a thriving community it’s small size had become problematic, making it difficult to grow, or even celebrate those occasions such weddings and funerals that are part of the life of any church community. Many ideas to overcome the span problem were considered, including building onto the church or buying land on which to erect a new facility but nothing came of these ideas despite many attempts to reach a consensus.
After ten years of service, Derek Dunwoody left All Saints in order to retire in 2001. Several interim priests filled in for many months and became an integral part of our parish until the current incumbent, the Reverend Greg Clark became our new priest in September 2002.
A solution to the problem of the All Saints’ growing congregation came in 2004 when the members of Cochrane’s Roman Catholic Church, St Mary’s decided that they, too, had outgrown their church building and offered our congregation the opportunity to purchase their beautiful facility up on the hill on 5th Avenue. After making the decision to move, the parishioners of All Saints decided that, if possible, their historic little church building should stay in the community of Cochrane and continue to function as a sacred place.
These wishes were fulfilled when representatives from Cochrane’s Bethany Care Centre expressed a need for a place of worship for the elderly residents With support from the Anglican congregation, Bethany Foundation, the Town of Cochrane and many donations from near and far, our small wooden was moved once more. Not by a team of horses this time, but by a house moving truck, to its new home on Quigley Drive and the Bethany Care Centre. It is not For from its original home at Mitford. Sitting on a small wise on the grounds, attached to the Bethany Care Centre, our church continues to serve as a cherished place of spiritual reflection for people of all faiths among residents, staff and the wider community.
The congregation of All Saints worshiped in the gymnasium of the Holy Spirit School for three years, in anticipation of the move into our future home up on the hill. During this time of transition, the congregation has continued to reflect on the kind of church it wants to be within the thriving community of Cochrane. At the start of the new millennium, parish members came to the conclusion that people are looking for a base community to help them live more meaningfully and humanely in their families or household units, as well as within the larger society.
After having their services for three years in the school auditorium, they finally moved to their new home on the hill, formerly St. Mary’s Catholic Church. They had their first service in the “new” All Saints Anglican Church on March 25, 2007. How delighted they were! some changes, painting and upkeep were made. They the pleased that a Daycare for Cochrane will be opened in the former Rectory soon. They plan to continue to embrace and serve their community.
They welcome newcomers to their church.
George Teply provided this photo of the current Cochrane Ranche site from Cochrane Heights from 1977. You can see the Gilbert Ranch buildings as well as what I believe is the brickyard pit in the background.
Here is an article from by Noel Edey in Cochrane Now about the current archeological dig and future construction of the intersection.
This article was written by Tim Collard and appears in the Cochrane Times. Photos courtesy of Glenbow Archives.
On a mild May 14th, 1930, the Town of Cochrane bustled with excitement. Though it was a Wednesday, most businesses in town closed at noon, as this was the first day of the Spring Meet of the Southern Alberta Turf Association. The crowd, many travelling from Calgary by train or automobile, buzzed with anticipation as the horses for the second race shifted restlessly, awaiting the starters pistol. A purse of $250 awaited the winners, nearly $4,000 in 2019 dollars, the bets placed using the newly popular Pari-Mutual betting system reached even higher. The Cochrane Races held in 1930, a four-day event with professional jockeys and horses from across Western Canada, were a far cry from the early days of horse racing in Cochrane.
The first recorded horse race in Cochrane took place in 1891. I was a match race between W.D. Kerfoot, former manager of the Cochrane Ranche, and his brother-in-law, William Bell-Irving, an early settler in the Grand Valley. Kerfoot’s horse, “the Dude” one the race by a nose, this was the first of many victories for W.D. Kerfoot in Cochrane races. In 1893 at the Mitford and Cochrane Races, Kerfoot’s cream and old gold racing silks occupied the winners circle after every race. In 1895, Kerfoot continued his dominance, this time on “Dixie Land”, a horse that went on to win races in Calgary, Winnipeg, San Francisco, and Australia.
By 1910, the Cochrane Races had become the premier social event in Cochrane. The CPR ran a special train to bring spectators from Calgary and the Cochrane Racing Association had built a brand-new track, including a grandstand and stables, on land purchased from Robert Howard. This new grass track was the only one-mile grass track in Western Canada which the Calgary Herald referred to in 1927 as “the mecca of a summer throng, keen for the bangtails.” During this period, the big names in Cochrane racing included D.P. MacDonald, Clem Gardner, E. Howard Abell, and Walter Hutchinson. While racing looked to be taking off in Cochrane, the outbreak of World War I hindered this development. Race meets were still held during the war, but attendance was reduced and the field of horses and riders was diminished due to the demands of the war.
The Rhodes Brothers
In 1924, the Rhodes brothers, know familiarly as “Dusty” and “Bumpy”, undertook to revive the Cochrane track.
They established the Southern Alberta Turf Association and expanded the meets to four days, attracting professionals from across the Prairie West. Initially, this proved to be a great success, with the races in 1927 and 1928 attracting huge crowds from Calgary and establishing Cochrane as the lead-off event on the Canadian racing calendar. It was this new-found prestige that brought two young, aspiring jockeys to the Cochrane race track in May of 1930.
Red Pollard & Johnny Longden
As the starters pistol sounded, “Billy Wisp” and “Prodigal” shot off the line and barrelled down the course, their jockeys spurring them on. At the finish, “Prodigal” nosed ahead to cross the line first, giving jockey Johnny Longden an important win. Close behind, “Billy Wisp” placed with jockey Red Pollard on board.
Red Pollard would go on to become a successful jockey, most notably as “Seabiscuit’s” jockey through most of that famed horse’s career. Johnny Longden went on to become one of the most successful jockeys in the history of racing, with a Triple Crown and over 6,000 victories to his name.
Unfortunately, the future of the Cochrane racetrack was not as bright. The onset of the Great Depression brought the Rhodes’ dream to an abrupt end, with the final race meet held at the Cochrane track in 1931. While the memory has faded, Cochrane was once one of the premier racing venues in Western Canada.
To learn more about the Cochrane racetrack, be sure to visit the Cochrane Historical Museum.
Many of the stories this month have been of short term businesses. I want to finish off the month with a story about a long time land mark and successful business the Cochrane Creamery. But did you know, there was a another earlier Creamery in the area.
An 80 Year Industry By Jo Hutchinson
The availability of a steady income, however small, was one of the greatest problems faced by pioneer settlers. Frequently the shortage of cash forced men into off-farm employment, sometimes at a distance from home. This could cause great hardships for his wife and family, and often resulted in the neglect of the farm they were trying to develop.
When D.M. Ratcliffe built a creamery at the present location of Big Hill Springs Provincial Park in the 1890s, an important industry was begun in the Cochrane area. Settlers were able to eke out a steady income from milking cows and selling cream. There was a growing demand for butter, in railroad construction camps and in towns that were being established.
Difficult access to Ratcliffe’s, later Brealey’s creamery, due to the steep surrounding hills, was probably the reason for its closure, and the establishment of a creamery in Cochrane about the year 1910.
The Cochrane Creamery Association was formed by a number of farmer-shareholders. At first the creamery was on the present site of the Shell Service Station. In about 1921 it was moved west to a location on the banks of Big Hill Creek, immediately north of the 1A Highway.
It is believed that Jim Loughery was hired as manager of the Creamery when it opened. He had previously managed a cheese factory, and later a creamery, at Bottrel; presumably it closed when Cochrane’s facility was started. Mr. Loughery had a brick house built in 1910 near the west end of Main Street. Legend has it that he used to walk to Bottrel on weekends to visit his fiancée, Irene Atkinson. They lived all their married life in this house, which is still standing and has undergone renovation.
During the 1930s, the Lougherys purchased the Creamery from its shareholders. The business served a wide area; for years Mrs. Loughery’s brother, Sam Atkhinson, hauled cream from farms as far away as Bottrel and Dog Pound, while other farmers delivered it directly. There was a big stack of cream cans on the platform outside the Creamery door; each shipper had two or more cans with their name and the letters CCA painted on. When they delivered cream, they found their empty on the stack and took it home for refilling.
Most farms had poor facilities for keeping the daily accumulation of cream; some cans were hung down the well, while the odd farm was lucky enough to have a spring near the house which could be utilized for keeping the cream cool. In other cases, it just soured, in which case the grade was reduced and it was priced lower. Butter makers at most creameries had numerous anecdotes about what was found at the bottom of cream cans. However, health regulations were scanty and dubious additives such as mice or the odd lost dishcloth just added to the flavour of the ensuing butter. Regardless of occasional disturbing “finds”, the Cochrane Creamery took many awards over the years for its butter.
For a number of years, the buttermilk was sold to Beynon and Davies, who had a dairy and hog operation near the present site of the Cochrane Ranche House.
Jim Loughery died in 1938 and in 1939, Sam Peverell, a nephew of Irene Loughery, became the manager of the Creamery. He purchased it from his aunt in 1954. Sam and his wife Muriel were Cochrane residents until the Creamery was closed and sold in 1975. The last churning took place in December 1974. By then there were few area farmers who wished to ship cream, as agriculture had changed direction. Small mixed farms were no longer a means of making a living, and ranching, hay or grain operations had taken over. Another chapter in the history of the development of Alberta closed.
An interesting anecdote regarding the parking area at the Creamery is the fact that it was often filled with unlicensed vehicles during the Depression years. Farmers would bring their cream in and leave their vehicles at the Creamery while they walked into Cochrane for groceries. Apparently, the police turned a blind eye to illegally driven vehicles outside the village limits!
The First Creamery in Big Hill Country By Jon Hutchison Reprinted from Bill Hill Country
In the early 1890s, D. M. Ratcliffe established a creamery straddling the line between the NW and the NE Sec 29 Twp 26 Range 3 W5M, beside the spring-fed creek which flows into Big Hill Creek. This site is in the present Big Hills Springs Provincial Park. This creamery is believed to be the first to produce butter in what is now the Province of Alberta.
The Ratcliffe children attended school at Mitford. It is not known how long Ratcliffe operated the creamery or to what extent he built it up before selling to Brealey (Breeley) and moved to the Red Deer, Alberta area. From the records at Land Titles office, it is apparent that neither Ratcliffe nor Brealey held title to the land. The first registered owner was D. P. McDonald in 1919.
No record remains of how long Brealey operated the creamery but it must have been quite a few years, as the creek generally came to be known as Brealey Springs. It was not until years later that the name “Big Hill Springs” was substituted.
Brealey had a complete set of farm buildings and corrals as well as the creamery. A part of the stream was channelled along the hillside in a ditch to the mouth of the coulee and then down a flume to the Pelton wheel, which supplied the power for churning the butter. The clear cold water was also the refrigerant for the cream and butter. Some local help was employed.
During the time the creamery was in operation, there was no road down the Big Hill Creek valley. The butter was hauled by wagon or democrat across Big Hill Creek through a shallow rocky ford, then south and east along the lower slope of the main valley and then up a narrow dry coulee to the east. From there it was hauled to Calgary, or possibly Mitford, and later Cochrane. Almost no trace of the old trail remains.
From the northwest there was a trail of sorts that curved steeply down the point of the hill There is a story of one farmer, bringing his cans of cream by team and democrat down the tricky trail, who had the misfortune to have his rig tip over. One can imagine the unfortunate driver, himself dumped down the hill, still clinging to the lines, and trying to keep the spooked team from running away with what was left of his democrat, while his hard-earned cream went spilling down the hill.
Until the mid-1940s, some evidence of the old creamery was still in existence. Part of the old ditch and parts of old building foundations could still be seen. Some of the sandstone slabs, part of the barn floor, were also visible.
It seems a shame that the old name “Brealey Springs” was dropped. The name “Big Hill Springs” is not really correct. It is located 5 or 6 miles from the Big Hill. Big Hill Creek got its name from the fact that it enters the Bow Valley at the foot of the Big Hill.
The Cochrane Creamery Association and The Cochrane Creamery By James Whittle
On Saturday, March 13, 1909, Mr. C. Marker, the provincial Dairy Commissioner, held a meeting in Cochrane to provide information about the establishment of a creamery. However, it was not until late in 1910 that things got started in earnest. At that time, the firm of Marlatt & Clark of Fort Atkinson Wisconsin was building a creamery at Cardston. At the invitation of the Cochrane Board of Trade, the firm surveyed farmers and dairymen of the Cochrane district in December 1910 and determined that there was sufficient interest, shareholders willing to put up capital for construction, and farmers with cows to supply the milk. A site was to secured at the west edge of town, at what is now the northwest corner of 1st Street and 5th Avenue. A well was dug, and on Monday, March 20, 1911, construction began. The completed building was opened for inspection i on Monday, May 8, 1911. Meanwhile, The Cochrane I Creamery Association was organized under the provisions of the provincial Dairymen’s Act, the necessary declaration having been filed on April 20, 1911. The first Board was elected at a meeting of the shareholders on May 22, 1911. It consisted of J. Cook, President, N. Phelps, Vice-President, J. A. Campbell, Treasurer, G. A. Stringer, Secretary, and J. C. Craig, W. Steel, W. Milligan, and S. Spicer, Directors.
The Board had difficulty in arranging for operating funds, with the result that the Creamery did not open for business until the middle of April 1912. By that time, a new Board of Directors was in control, having been elected at the annual meeting of shareholders on February 10. 1912: J.G. Tweed. Earle Whittle. J. A Campbell, J. Cook (President), G. Claxton, D. McEcheren, and S. Spicer. The Creamery was briefly under the management of Mr. L. Pilon, but on May 23 The Cochrane Advocate announced that Mr. J. W. Loughery had taken over. Despite a promising start, the first season was a disaster. A major customer, The Alberta Ice Cream Co., went bankrupt, some produce shipments were not paid for, and some patrons went unpaid for cream delivered. The Creamery closed for the winter at the end of September and did not open for business in 1913.
In 1914, a fresh start was made. The annual meeting of shareholders on Tuesday, February 3, 1914, elected a Board consisting of Earle H. Whittle, President, J. Campbell, Vice-President, J. Cook, Secretary, and J. Elder and D. Morrison, Directors. Patrons agreed to accept 50 cents on the dollar in settlement of outstanding accounts, and the Creamery opened for business on
May 18, 1914. The manager for the 1914 and 1915 seasons (the Creamery closed in the winter of 1914-15) was George Neilson, apparently a capable, conscientious creamery man who placed the operation on a solid footing. He aimed to create a steady market by giving the consumer a better grade of butter than they could obtain elsewhere. His high standards raised questions and complaints from local cream producers, but in the issue of September 8, 1915. The Cochrane Advocate reported that Cochrane Creamery butter had won first prize and a gold medal at the Brandon fair.
Two significant events took place in the fall of 1915. At the beginning of October, George Neilson resigned and Jim Loughery returned, beginning his 20-year tenure as manager. And the Creamery commenced year-round operation, remaining open throughout the winter of 1915-16, and continuously thereafter. A cheque to Sam Spicer dated February 20, 1919, reproduced in Big Hill Country, representing his “2nd Creamery Dividend and Bonus,” indicates that by that time the operation was financially secure.
The supply of water at the Creamery site soon proved inadequate, and a second well, drilled in February 1917, didn’t solve the problem. So it was decided to move the Creamery to a site west of town, on the east bank of Big Hill Creek. Big Hill Country records that this was Bob Beynon’s “first big carpenter’s job” after he came to Canada in 1920. The move probably took place in the winter of 1920-21, for, at a meeting of the Cochrane Social and Athletic Club on September 14, 1921, the Creamery Association was able to offer the use of the old Creamery site” for the building of a skating rink.
During the Great Depression in the 1930s, the steady income from the Creamery was sustaining for many farm families in the area. But many shareholders saw better use for their money and sold out to Jim Loughery. Earle Whittle, still the president of the Cochrane Creamery Association, died on November 8, 1936, and Jim Loughery died about the same time. Loughery’s widow Irene emerged as the sole owner of the Creamery. The Association passed from the scene, and the Creamery operated from that point onward as a private business under the name Cochrane Creamery Limited.
Sydney Reed had joined the staff of the Creamery in 1935 as a butter maker, working with Jim Loughery. When Loughery died, his widow Irene first engaged her brother Sam Atkinson as manager. But Atkinson wished to return to his farm at Bottrel, so, in 1939, Sam and Muriel Peverell moved to Cochrane, and Sam Peverell replaced Sam Atkinson as manager. Sam Peverell was Irene’s nephew, the son of her sister Elizabeth. Peverell and Reed operated the business through the war years and after. When it became apparent that Peverell planned to take over the Creamery (which he did in 1954, purchasing it from his Aunt Irene) Reed moved in 1953 to the creamery in Okotoks, where he worked as butter maker until his death in 1958.
Sam continued to operate the creamery with his son Brian and they collected many awards for their butter, known quite widely. CCC Butter was the consumer’s choice.
The churns of the Cochrane Creamery ceased to turn around 1970, and Peverell developed a domestic milk supply and delivery business. In December 1974, he sold the building and business to Mel Roland, who in turn sold out to the provincial government, to round out the boundaries of the Cochrane Ranche Provincial Historic Site, which opened in May 1979.
The Creamery building was demolished to make way for the Park. But the Cochrane Legacy Statue unveiled on June 17, 2003, the one-hundredth anniversary of the incorporation of the town, includes a reproduction of a Cochrane Creamery Association cream can to serve as an enduring reminder of an institution that for sixty years contributed in an important way to the economy of the Cochrane District.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this months daily dose of history. We have a couple more to tell before month end. Then, we’ll be out enjoying the spring.
This article about Graham’s Pharmacy from “More Big Hill Country” is one of the best stories of small town Cochrane.
“Big Hill Country” was published in 2009. The story is presented here as it was printed.
In 1955 Bob and Alice Graham sold their home and furnishings in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, packed up their wedding presents, their two red cats and headed to Calgary. They had no idea what the future would hold for them.
Bob was a pharmacist and Alice was a Registered Nurse.
The Graham’s purchased Hart’s Drug Store in Cochrane, Alberta, a small town in cattle ranching country, located fifteen miles west of Calgary, Alberta on what was then the number 1 Highway. The pharmacy proved to be the closest thing to a first aid station or emergency ward for the people of Cochrane. The nearest doctors and hospitals were located in Calgary.
When the new Trans-Canada highway was constructed in 1958 it was a blow to the Town of Cochrane as it would bypass all the communities until it joined the 1A Highway four miles outside of Banff, Alberta.
The Graham’s chose to remain in Cochrane. They reduced the long hours they had been open from 9 am to 10 pm every day of the week, from 10 am to 6 pm and closed on Sundays and Wednesday afternoons. Most all of the businesses in Cochrane were closed on Wednesday afternoons at that time.
Ice cream sales, which had been so brisk during the Hart’s time, decreased significantly and a big day for prescriptions never exceeded six to ten. Two-digit figures on the cash register were an everyday occurrence for nearly three years. Although business wasn’t booming their medical knowledge was being tested to the limit.
The Graham’s had met Dewey Blaney when he was an employee of the Gordon Callaway. Dewey had at one time been a part-time policeman for the village. His job, as the Graham’s knew him, was the official town gravedigger. Periodically the job was too heavy for him so he hired Bert Lancons to help. Bert was never very good on his feet and one morning he fell into a grave, gashing his head. The grave had to be dug on time as Dewey was dedicated to his job. He packed newspapers on Bert’s head to soak up the blood and covered it tightly with a plastic vegetable bag, the only supplies available for such an emergency in Dewey’s tool shed at the cemetery. At noon they finished digging and walked the mile and a half into town to the pharmacy.
When Alice carefully removed Bert’s skullcap, she was shocked to see another skullcap at least a half-inch thick of congealed blood with the classified section beautifully stamped on it. Underneath that layer was an exposed pumping bleeder. Bert was becoming quite pale so Alice replaced the dressing with pressure and moved them to the back yard, She served them lunch and coffee. They had to wait until 1 p.m. for Dr. John D. Milne to arrive. Dr. Milne did a good job of suturing and they all decided that printer’s ink was an excellent disinfectant!
It was not unusual for Alice to be kept busy giving injections. The Graham’s boiled many needles and syringes for those who needed their services.
They also took blood pressures as many veterans preferred to stay rather than spend time at home rather than at the Colonel Belcher Hospital in Calgary.
The door-to-door and area gratis nursing, when they were called upon, was a challenge and fun but there were a few tragedies as well.
The Graham’s also worked closely with the Cochrane RCMP. Early one morning Alice was lowered into a small gully near a small bridge in order to recover one local who had fallen asleep at the wheel of his car. He and his wife were returning from British Columbia when the accident occurred. The grateful gentleman and his wife supplied the Graham’s with fresh vegetables from their garden for many years to come. Alice was also paid for small favours with gifts of cream, eggs, chickens, preserves, cakes and plants. She said, “There is no amount of money could replace these gifts.”
Cochrane’s two-man RCMP Detachment was also a two-bedroom home for Cpl. Len Clevette, his wife and their three children.
In those days there was no mixed drinking allowed in Calgary bars so people travelled to Cochrane to the local hotel. Many ladies in distress were left on the streets of Cochrane by their companions. When the inebriated ladies passed out in the streets, Len would remove them with the help of passers-by either to the Graham’s living room or to the one cell which had been the third bedroom in the Clevette’s home. One time they picked up one girl, sobered her up in Graham’s living room and Len, in all good faith drove the girl to the city limits and let her out. Two days later in the “Albertan” newspaper Court News, the same lady’s name appeared. To the embarrassment of Len, she stated: “that the Cochrane people and the RCMP were much nicer to her than the City Police.”
Over a period of two years, tabletop surgery was done in Graham’s home as Dr. Bill Prowse and Dr. Milne carried on many services. One evening a lad was brought in from a pipeline crew. His foot was severed from his leg. The foot was on the floor of the truck. Alice cleaned and bandaged the foot in place while waiting for the ambulance. They also notified the neral Hospital in Calgary. It was a sensational piece of surgery performed by a tremendous group of surgeons. The foot was saved! The patient walked into the store months later with a perfectly good foot. He had only lost two toes.
Mount St. Francis also experienced Alice’s nursing skills. They made many emergency trips to the Munt. Brother David scalded his legs and feet badly when he was scalding butchered pigs in the fall. Alice did the dressings for him for 8 months.
Free deliveries were also the order of the day. One night the Graham’s were called out at 1 am during a storm to deliver a breach baby girl in the back seat of a car. This was Bob’s first experience at being a nurse’s assistant. There were no streetlights on the side of their premises to aid them in the delivery. The next delivery occurred at 10 am on Main Street. An Indian lady had just left Morley when nature produced a baby across the street from the pharmacy. The little papoose was named Alice by her mother. All went well except that a Chartered Greyhound bus of forty people was parked directly opposite them and all the people watched the entire performance. “Good nursing was a challenge in Cochrane”, said Alice.
The Graham’s loved animals and many were abandoned on their doorstep. They managed to find homes for most of them but when they built their new pharmacy, they moved the cats into their new quarters which were especially designed for their nine extra permanent pets
The new store, Graham’s Pharmacy Ltd. was unlike any other modern-day building. It was a two-storey cement block building; the second storey was the living quarters but it was the pharmacy itself that intrigued customers. It was as large as many chain stores but it had a pleasant mixture of antiques, Indian handicrafts and present-day inventory.
Cliff and Ben Henry, bachelor brothers who ranched in the Bottrel area, raising Black Aberdeen Angus cattle, were good friends of Bob and Alice. The Henry Brothers knew that the Graham’s were planning on building a new and larger store. Alice and Bob had to promise them that they would build their new store to look old in order to make sure that the farmers would always feel welcome in their work clothes. In addition to this, they suggested that Graham’s preserve some of the artifacts of this district, which they did.
When we moved into the new store in October 1962 Cliff and Ben arrived carrying two beautiful old framed pictures of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert which their parents had brought to Alberta from the Maritimes in the 1880s. They also brought along an old English Enfield Rifle. The two portraits and the rifle graced the entrance of the pharmacy. Customers were encouraged to enjoy the casual atmosphere which prevailed. Stools and chairs were located near the counter and people enjoyed free cups of coffee and a short visit while their prescriptions and purchases are made.
When health studies produced data in 1971 that smoking could be dangerous to their health, the Graham’s butted out. They also stopped carrying all tobacco products but their customers could still enjoy their own cigarettes while sipping their coffee. Bob maintained they never lost any business because of their decision. He always said “You can’t be curing them in the dispensary and poisoning them in the other end. It appears that Graham’s Pharmacy was somewhat ahead of its time in 1971.
Due to health problems, Graham’s Pharmacy closed in 1989. Bob passed away but Alice still lives in her home with her beloved cats.
Do you want to get involved?
“More Big Hill Country” has lots of stories of early businesses.
There was a time when most homes in Cochrane had a barn for the horses. There were also several Livery stables in town.
Murphy’s Livery Stable
The Murphy Livery stable was built next to the Murphy Brothers Hotel in 1898. It appears that the Murphy brothers leased the Livery Stable out to others to operate it. Beynon, Davies and Hewitt are recorded as running the business and in 1910, it was leased to the Quigley Brothers. In 1911, Beynon was operating the Livery and George Raby and Son operated it for a couple of years when Benton Denny took over in 1917. W. Crowe took over in 1918 and ran the business until 1922. As the motorcar began to take over the Livery Stable’s use diminished and the Murphy Livery Stable was torn down and some of the lumber was used to construct the Nelson Cabins.
Cochrane Livery Stable
This business was located on First Avenue West, today the site of the present Telus Building. Charles Burnham operated here followed by W. Tempany in 1909. Charlie Mickle took over and then in 1913 George Bevan ran the livery stable. In 1915, H. Johnson was running it and it later became the site of Sibbald Motors. This was also the site of C. Linds Barbershop and Pool Room.
R.A Webster Livery Stable
Webster’s Livery Stable was situated north of the Cochrane Hotel and was added to the Feed and Flour Mill.
When cars were first introduced into Cochrane you could hire a car and driver from one of the Livery Stables to go to Calgary. In the 1950s Harold Callaway had a taxi service that he operated out of Hart’s Drug Store. Later in 1972, Bob Standen started a taxi service. Les Wigemyr took over the business and ran it for fourteen years and in 1999 Raymond and Donna MacDonald bought the business and ran it until 1994. In 2007, Cochrane Taxi is owned by Ken Wilson and at least two other taxi companies have started up.
Though most livery stables did some repair to harness and other equipment, Mr. Fisher offered repairs in the early days and then in 1924, Nick Cosis, the shoemaker also did harness repairs until the 1950s. Roy Fenton has done a lot of harness work and repair when needed into the 1980s.
George Pitter opened his Blacksmith before moving to Bottrel to operate a Webster owned a Blacksmith Shop in Milne was the “Smithy” also S. Christi from the Morley area where he had a blacksmith shop and bought a shop in Cochrane in 1911. Some of the men who worked for him over the years Fenton, Scotty Allen, George Hope and Geo George “Geordie” Hope then bought the shop from Mr. Christianson in 1916 and operated it until he George Bunney in 1919. Geordie bought the business back in 1922 and ran it until 1928. Dave bought and ran the business until he sold it in 1952. Bob Cudmore operated Pioneer Blacksmith out of the old Murray building. Blacksmith shops have given way to welding shops. Today the only blacksmith work being done is by a farrier or individual farmers or ranchers doing their own.
An original welding shop existed in the old Murphy Brothers livery stable owned by Scotty McConachie. In 1955, S. Wilkinson purchased a portable welder and had a mobile business. O’Neill’s Welding was also in existence in the 1960s. Oatway’s Welding was located across the railway tracks and southeast of the Texas Gate Restaurant. Also, the 1970s saw Town & Country Welding come into town. Garney Baker and his dad started EGB after he had worked for Spray Lake Sawmills. They now service all the welding needs of their customers.
Automobiles and Repairs
Henry Ford and his Model T started a business that allowed nearly everyone to own a car. Cochrane was no exception as Tom Quigley opened a Ford dealership and repair garage on Pope Avenue which was built by Chapman Brothers in 1911. This replaced the horse and buggy days, which even featured a stagecoach from Cochrane to Bottrel and by George Raby and son William. This usually involved hauling the mail.
In 1918, Chapman Bros. built their own garage on Main Street, operated by Robert Chapman. He sold Chevrolet vehicles. This business was sold to Marshal Baptie in 1935. Baptie Motors, owned and operated by Marshall Baptie was located on Main Street between 3rd and 4th Avenue. Marshall continued to sell Chevrolet vehicles and later sold Dodge vehicles with BA Gas. In 1950, he was also the dealer for Case Farm Machinery. He operated this garage until the 1960’s when he sold it to his nephew Bob Baptie. Later this business was sold to Bill Thomas and renamed Big Sky Service. The building still exists on 1st Street West and houses Cochrane Valley Automotive.
Bert Sibbald Garage
In the 1920s Quigley’s Garage was moved to Mountain Street which formed part of the main highway through town. C.E. “Bert” Sibbald operated this service garage called the Regal Service Station. It was sold in 1938 to Clem Colgan. Soon after Imperial Oil, along with Colgan, built across the street on the site of the present Royal Bank. Robbie Webb and John Milligan bought this station in 1940. They sold Esso Gas and Ford cars, Ford Tractors and Farm Machinery to compliment their business. The first car wash was built ” the corner named “The Car Wash” and was a real novelty for the customers. Most residents of the time washed their cars at home using their garden hose and a bucket. Today, times have changed as it is against the law as the dirty water drains into the Town’s sewer system contaminating the rivers, streams and aquifers that supply our freshwater to our homes and businesses. Currently, there are two car washes in town, one of which has a Dog Wash attached. Webb and Milligan sold their Service Station and Garage to Wayne Hilland and Mel Holland in 1966 and they operated it for many years as Bow Ridge Motors. Wayne and Mel switched to selling Datsun (Nissan) cars. A few years later, Ski-doos, Polaris Quads and other recreational vehicles and services were offered until the land was sold to the Royal Bank. Bow Ridge Motors Limited relocated to River Avenue and Griffin Road where it currently operates Bow River Motors and Bow River Sports.
In 1930, Texaco built a service station at the west end of Main Street which was operated by Alvin and Maggie Nelson until 1934. Graeme Broatch arrived from Saskatchewan to manage the station and eventually bought it. He operated under the name Cochrane Auto.
Service and sold Plymouth, Dodge and Fargo Vehicles. Graeme also operated full mechanic services for over 40 years. In 1939, Graeme added tourist cabins to his business.
Imperial Oil had an Esso Bulk Plant operated by Charles Grayson in the 1940s. In 1946, Charles sold to Ed Raby, who operated the business until about 1958. Ed sold the business to Lorne Helmig and he operated it delivering bulk fuel to the many farms and ranches in the Big Hill Country.
Whittle Implements had been selling International Trucks as far back as the 1940s, including the four-wheel-drive Scout. This business closed in 1978. Eventually, the car dealers separated from the gas stations and Tire Shops, Autobody Repair, paint shops, repair garages and gas bars with convenience stores emerged.
George A. Bevan built this building and ran a confectionery and fruit store. Jack Beynon took over the building, made it longer and started a restaurant, serving meals but also maintaining the confectionary. Jack’s wife Annie did the cooking. Jack left to join the war efforts in 1915. There is mention of a Cochrane Restaurant in 1918 operated by Charley Sing and in 1924 there was a Club Café. These may have been in the same building as Jack Beynon’s restaurant. The Braucht family came to Cochrane in 1925 and they were operating the Elite Café when the Fisher Block burned down and almost took the café with it. This family also mentions they had the Rose Café in Cochrane after 1930. In the 1930s the Kwongs ran the Elite Café and in 1946 it was purchased by Bill Sinclair. The Elite Café was a family affair advertising “the Biggest Ice Cream Cones in Town, Take-out Fried Chicken Dinners and Deluxe Hamburgers.” The building was then sold to Gordon Hinther and run as a Chinese Restaurant “Seven Stars”. In the late 1960’s R.E. Moore purchased the café and old butcher shop, demolished them and added an addition to his Modern Supermarket.
Stanley and Ruth Waters came from Calgary to Cochrane in 1920. They rented a business section in the Chester Block (Howard Block) and started the White Café. Ruth stated, “We were busy from the first day.” They also enjoyed the Cochrane Races and ran a refreshment booth there.
Mrs. Allan’s Tea Room
In 1924, Sam and Marion (Minnie) Allan took over the Tea Room and Confectionary from Ruth Webster that was located in the Cochrane Hotel and later they moved the Tea Room to a Building right next store and to the west of the Hotel. (presently the Hotel Parking Lot). They advertised “Lunches Put Up For Tourists”. They operated Mrs. Allan’s Tea Room until 1942 when they sold it to Enid Gammon. She sold the business to the McCurdy’s in 1949 who in turn sold it to the Steinmetz family in 1955. The Steinetz’s renamed Allan’s Tea Room, the “Chinook Café – Home of Fine Foods.” They also made the café larger when Mr. Brodie sold them his barbershop space that was in their half of the building. The Chinook Café was then run by Ellen Bryant in the late 1950s.
This café was located behind the Cochrane Hotel and the building is still standing. It was built by Eustace Bowhay and he sold it to the Sailors in 1945. Later Laura Kells purchased the business and ran the Coffee Bar. Yvonne (Blow) Callaway worked for Laura and in 1952 Yvonne’s mother Mabel Blow ran the business while renting the building. Laura returned to operate the business in 1958 and renamed it the Range Grill. It was a popular place for teenagers and Laura was a wonderful mentor to them. Then the Fraser family ran the café for a short while. Laura sold the business to Gus Graff in 1966, who in turn sold it in 1967 to the Veselic Family and the restaurant was renamed the “Ponderosa”.
“Charlie’s” Café was located on Main Street on the west side of the Kerfoot and Downs Hardware and in the 1960s – 1980s it was a very busy place. Charlie Quon and his family operated this café until the early 1980s. Their son Harvey graduated from Cochrane High School. Later it was sold and expanded to the west and is presently called Cochrane Café.
When the Cochrane Valley Centre was built in the late 1970s a lovely restaurant called the Kissin Kuzzins was located on the top floor. It had a lovely view and Banquet Rooms. It was a different kind of restaurant for Cochrane and much enjoyed by all. It remained for quite a few years and then was sold and became the Pheasant Plucker Restaurant. In the 1990’s it was closed and the area became the Cochrane Fitness Business.
The Home Quarter Restaurant
In the former Foodmaster Store Joan and Clarence Longeway opened the Home Quarter Restaurant on 1st Street. It was a great asset to the dining experience in Cochrane. It welcomed families with children, the day time coffee clubs and the afternoon tea crowd as well as opening early in the morning and catching the breakfast crowd. In about 1991, Joan and Clarence renovated the Home Quarter and added a Fine Dining Area to their already very popular restaurant. Saturday night roast beef and their great homemade pies were a favourite. The Dining Room was also booked for many weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions. This restaurant is now HQ Coffee Emporium.
With the increase of people moving to Cochrane due to the Jumping Pound, Petro Fina gas Plants and Spray Lakes Sawmills, the town of Cochrane businesses expanded. The 4th Avenue Mall added a new Drug Store and Dry Cleaners among other needed businesses and the Cochrane Valley Shopping Centre held a new supermarket the IGA, a Dress Shop and many other permanent businesses so that much of the shopping in the Town and surrounding districts could be done in Cochrane.
A1 Drive Inn
The first Drive In to come to Cochrane, the A1 Drive-In was opened in 1968 by Irene and Bill Hawes. It was a great novelty for the high school kids to leave campus at noon and go down and get a hamburger for lunch or even stop in after school. Take out was a new thing for the residents of Cochrane and area and very popular. The Hawes’ operated the Drive-In for a short time before selling it to Joan Wong in the early 1970s. Joan is still operating in 2008 on 6th Avenue and the highway, across from the IGA. Today there are numerous places to get a fast-food fix. A&W, Dairy Queen, Tim Hortons and most Gas Stations have food to go.
Fred Callaway recently contacted CHAPS about 2 family histories and a history of Cochrane. This is Harry Johnson’s recollections of the Callaway and Johnson families.
The photos are from CHAPS archives of the Brushy Ridge area. Mr. Johnsons history was typed in upper case on very thin paper. We’ve converted it to an electronic format but left the case as we found it. The feature image is of the Brushy Ridge school in 1940.
It’s a great story of the hardships and joys of homesteading in the area.
THE ALFRED CALLAWAY FAMILY
ALFRED ERNEST CALLAWAY WAS BORN AT BRUSHY RIDGE IN 1908, THE YOUNGEST SON OF E.J. CALLAWAY. HE LIVED ON THE “HOME PLACE” UNTIL AFTER HIS FATHER’S DEATH. IN 1932 HE MOVED TO THE NE Sec. 15 AND SET Sec. 22. THE FOLLOWING YEAR HE MARRIED MIRIAM JOHNSON WHO WAS TEACHING AT BRUSHY RIDGE SCHOOL AT THAT TIME. IN 1938 A DAUGHTER, LOIS, WAS BORN AND THE NEXT YEAR A SON, FRED, ARRIVED. LOIS ATTENDED BRUSHY RIDGE SCHOOL FOR ONE YEAR WHILE MURRAY CARMACK WAS TEACHER THERE. BECAUSE OF THE SHORTAGE OF TEACHERS, MIRIAM HAD TO RETURN TO TEACHING
IN 1944 WHEN FRED WAS READY TO START SCHOOL. BRUSHY RIDGE SCHOOL WAS CLOSED AND ALL HAD TO ATTEND LITTLE JUMPING POUND SCHOOL. THE FOLLOWING VEAR LITTLE JUMPING POUND SCHOOL WAS CLOSED AND ALL ATTENDED BRUSHY RIDGE SCHOOL FROM BOTH JUMPING POUND AND BRUSHY RIDGE. IN 1946 MARIAM WENT TO TEACH IN COCHRANE AND TOOK LOIS AND FRED TO ATTEND SCHOOL THERE.
IN 1948, BECAUSE OF ILL HEALTH, ALFRED WAS FORCED TO LEAVE THE FARM.
HE SOLD THE PLACE TO LAURIE EDGE AND MOVED TO COCHRANE, WHERE HE WORKED FOR WILLIAM ANDISON, GENERAL MERCHANT. IN 1951 ALFRED AND HIS FAMILY MOVED TO CALGARY WHERE HE WORKED FOR UNIVERSAL MOTORS AND OWNED THE “WARDROBE” DRY GOODS STORE. IN 1952, BECAUSE OF ILL HEALTH, THE STORE HAD TO BE SOLD. MARIAM CALLAWAY B.ED. BEGAN TEACHING IN CALGARY WHERE SHE TAUGHT UNTIL HER RETIREMENT IN 1974.
LOIS CALLAWAY B.ED., A.R.C.T., A.T.C.M., A.W. BD. IS NOW ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL IN CALGARY, WHILE FRED CALLAWAY C.A. IS MANAGER OF THE SPECIAL PROJECTS DEPARTMENT FOR HUDSON’S BAY OIL AND GAS.
LOIS MARRIED DOUGLAS W. BROWN B.ED., M.A., AN INSTRUCTOR AL S.A.I.T. THEY HAVE TWO CHILDREN DOUGLAS STEVEN AND KRISTA ANNE. FRED MARRIED ELIZABETH PATRICIA CHIVERS. THEY HAVE TWO BOYS PATRICK BOYD AND MICHAEL DEAN.
THE JOHNSON’S AT BRUSHY RIDGE
COMING TO COCHRANE IN 1920 IT MIGHT BE SAID THAT THE JOHNSON’S WERE SOME THING OF “JOHNNIE COME LATELIES” TO THE DISTRICT BUT MEMBERS OF OUR FAMILY WERE AMONG THE EARLY PIONEERS IN ALBERTA.
THEY EVENTUALLY HOMESTEADED IN THE DIDSBURY DISTRICT JUST 1/2 MILE NORTH OF WHERE THE TOWN IS NOW.
MRS. PECKS BROTHER SYKES TAYLOR WITH HIS 14 YEAR OLD SON SYKES FOLLOWED THEM IN 1883 REACHING CALGARY JUST AFTER THE RAILROAD HAD BEEN COMPLETED TO THE OUTPOST
HIS WIFE MARIA WHO WAS MY MOTHER’S AUNT, AND INCIDENTALLY OUR REAL CONNECTION WITH THE NEW WORLD, FOLLOWED HIM IN 1984 WITH THEIR FIVE OTHER CHILDREN, WHICH MUST HAVE BEEN QUITE AN UNDERTAKING FOR A WOMAN ALONE IN THOSE DAYS.
THEY HOMESTEADED ON THE NORTH HILL WHERE 16TH AVENUE IS TODAY BUT LATER GAVE THAT LAND UP.
In 1885 SYKES TAYLOR SENIOR DIED AND WAS THE FIRST MAN BURIED IN BURNSLAND CEMETERY, THERE BEING JUST ONE LITTLE GIRL BURIED THERE BEFORE HIM.
AFTER THE FUNERAL AUNT MARIA TAYLOR WAS IN THE OLD ALBERTA HOTEL AND MR. NI BLOCK, A C.P.R. OFFICIAL, SEEING THAT SHE WAS IN DISTRESS ENQUIRED WHAT HER TROUBLE WAS AND FINDING THAT SHE WAS WIDOWED, OFFERED HER A JOB COOKING FOR THE SECTION GANG AT MORLEY, MR. TOM BATEMAN OF JUMPING POUND TOLD ME THAT ALL THE COWBOYS WOULD HEAD FOR MRS. TAYLORS TO GET A GOOD MEAL WHEN THEY WERE IN THE AREA.
LATER, HER SON SYKES HOMESTEADED AT BRUSHY RIDGE AND IN 1908 MY UNCLE, HERBERT RHODES, CAME OUT FROM YORKSHIRE TO WORK FOR HIS COUSIN SYKES AND HOME ON THE HILL ON SECTION 18.
IN 1915 HE GAVE THE QUARTER SECTION TO HIS BROTHER CHARLES, JOINED THE ARMY AND WAS KILLED IN FRANCE IN 1916. HIS BROTHER TOM CAME IN 1910 AND THE REST OF THE FAMILY IN 1912.
MY FATHER, MOTHER, MY SISTER MIRIAM AND I CAME TO CANADA IN 1920.
DAD GOT A JOB AT W.H. CUSHING’S FACTORY IN EAST CALGARY AND STAYED THERE FOR OVER 10 YRS.
BILLY VOWERS LIVED WITH HIS FATHER ON NW 10. MR. VOWELS WAS VERY SICK AND DIED SHORTLY AFTER WE ARRIVED. JERGEN MESSER WENT TO COCHRANE FOR THE CASKET WITH A DEMOCRAT. THE ROAD ACROSS COCHRANE FLAT WAS NOTHING BUT BIG BOULDERS AND WHEN HE HOT BACK HOME THE BOTTOM OF THE CASKET HAD FALLEN OUT AND THEY HAD TO DO A REPAIR JOB. IN THOSE DAYS THE BRIDGE OVER THE BOW WAS DIRECTLY SOUTH OF COCHRANE TOUCHING THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE RIVER BETWEEN GEORGE BUNNY’S AND GEORGE RATRAY’S PLACES.
IN 1921 I HIRED OUT TO SYKES TAYLOR FOR A YEAR FOR $300.00 THEN AFTER WORKING IN DIFFERENT PLACES DAD AND I, IN 1927 BOUGHT THE SW OF SECTION 16 FROM MR. ISAAC HUGHES, HE HAVING HOMESTEADED IN 1904. MR. HUGHES LIVED IN COCHRANE BUT DIED SHORTLY AFTER FROM GAS FUMES HE INHALED WHILE SOLDERING THE FURNACE PIPES IN BILLY ANDISONS NEW STORE.
I BATCHED FOR A WHILE THEN MOTHER CAME OUT TO THE FARM AND MIRIAM STAYED IN CALGARY TO TOOK FOR DAD AND CONTINUE HER SCHOOLING. WE CONTINUED THIS ARRANGEMENT FOR THREE OR FOUR YEARS THEN DAD CAME TO THE FARM WHEN THE DEPRESSION HIT CALGARY AND CUSHING’S MILL WAS FORCED TO CLOSE.
1927 WAS THE YEAR OF THE GREAT HAIL STORM AND THE ONLY YEAR WE WERE EVER HAILED OUT.
IT IS THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH THAT THERE WERE HAIL STONES AS BIG AND THE SHAPE OF QUART SEALERS, JUST CHUNKS OF ICE. WE WERE JUST ON THE EASTERN EDGE OF THE STORM. ALEX CALLAWAY, ON THE NEXT QUARTER EAST, GOT VERY LITTLE BUT FURTHER WEST THERE WERE SEVERAL CATTLE KILLED BY THE STONES. DAVE LAWSON AND FRANK SYBALD WERE CAUGHT IN IT AND HAD TO TAKE SHELTER UNDER A STACKER BUT ONE STONE HIT DAVE ON THE FOOT AND BROKE BONES.
TED HARRISON’S SHACK NOT ONLY HAD THE SHINGLES BROKEN OFF BUT SEVERAL OF THE ROOF BOARDS WERE BROKEN BY THE STONES. BUCK COPE PICKED UP FIVE WHICH FILLED A WASHBASIN.
WE LOST ABOUT FIFTY CHICKENS AND SOME OF THE COWS HAD THEIR HIDE BROKEN.
WE HAD A DANDY CROP OF BARLEY ABOUT 4 FEET HIGH AND IT DISAPPEARED INTO THE GROUND.
THIS STORM OCCURRED IN JULY, TWO DAYS AFTER THE GRAND VALLEY DISTRICT HAD A BAD STORM.
IN 1929 I GOT YOUNG TREES AND CUTTINGS FROM THE GOVERNMENT STATION AT INDIAN HEAD AND PLANTED A WIND BREAK WEST OF THE BUILDINGS. THEY DID WELL AND MADE A GREAT SHELTER.
IN 1929 THE DEPRESSION HIT OUR AREA ALONG WITH THE REST OF THE COUNTRY. PRICES FOR OUR PRODUCTS DROPPED DRASTICALLY. BUTTERFAT WENT DOWN TO 12 CENTS A POUND, EGGS FETCHED FIVE CENTS A DOZEN AND WE HAULED HOGS TO CALGARY FOR AS LOW AS TWO CENTS A POUND.
ON TOP OF THESE LOW PRICES THE AREA WAS SUFFERING FROM A SERIES OF DRY YEARS WHICH LASTED UNTIL 1937.
IN 1932 A GROUP OF TABLE CREAM SHIPPERS GOT TOGETHER AND FORMED THE COCHRANE AND DISTRICT TABLE CREAM PRODUCERS ASSOCIATION.
TED CALLAWAY WAS ELECTED PRESIDENT AND I WAS SECRETARY OUR FIRST OBJECTIVE WAS TO TRY TO BE RELIEVED FROM THE BARN IMPROVEMENT REGULATIONS WHICH WERE BEING FORCED UPON MILK PRODUCERS BY THE CALGARY CITY HEALTH BOARD.
LOUIS NICOLL AND MYSELF APPEARED BEFORE THE COUNCIL AND RECEIVED A FAVOURABLE HEARING BUT THE CHIEF HEALTH OFFICER, A DR. GOW, PUT A MONKEY WRENCH INTO THE WORKS AND EVERY ONE HAD TO COMPLY OR QUIT SHIPPING TO THE TABLE CREAMTRADE.
ALL FLOORS HAD TO BE CEMENTED AND THERE HAD TO BE 8 FEET FROM THE FLOOR TO THE CEILING AND 2 SQUARE FEET OF WINDOW FOR EVERY ANIMAL. MANY OF THE BARNS HAD ONLY 7 OR 7 FEET OF SPACE AND THE LOFT FLOORS HAD TO BE RAISED TO COMPLY WITH THE REGULATIONS.
THIS CAUSED A LOT OF EXPENSE TO THE DAIRYMEN AT A TIME WHEN THERE WAS NO MONEY TO SPEND.
IN 1933 THE CALGARY MILK PRODUCERS ASSOCIATION MADE APPLICATION TO HAVE THEIR PRODUCT PUT UNDER PUBLIC UTILITY CONTROL. WE HEARD WHAT WAS AFOOT AND ARRANGED TO JOIN FORCES WITH THAT GROUP. WE MET IN A ROOM IN THE CALGARY PUBLIC LIBRARY AND FORMED THE CALGARY AND DISTRICT MILK AND INSPECTED CREAM PRODUCERS ASSOCIATION. I MIGHT JUST MENTION HERE THAT THE RENT FOR THE HALL WAS TWO DOLLARS AND THOUGH THE PLACE WAS FULL THE HAT HAD TO BE PASSED AROUND TWICE BEFORE THEY COULD GET ENOUGH TO COVER THE RENT, MONEY WAS SO SCARCE.
TED CALLAWAY AND I WERE ELECTED TO THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND BOTH OF US SERVED FOR OVER 10 YEARS. THE TIME FOR THE HEARING BEFORE THE ALBERTA SUPREME COURT FOR OUR PETITION EVENTUALLY ARRIVED AND THE DISTRIBUTORS BATTLED US TOOTH AND NAIL FOR EIGHT DAYS BUT IN THE END, WE WON OUR CASE AND SAVED THE PRODUCERS FROM THE MONOPOLISTIC GRIP OF THE DISTRIBUTORS.
FOLLOWING SEVERAL APPLICATIONS TO THE COMMISSION FOR INCREASES IN PRICE OF MILK AND TABLE CREAM BASED ON OUR COST OF PRODUCTION, WE SUCCEEDED IN HAVING THE PRICE OF MILK RAISED TO $2.60 PER 100 LBS. AND TABLE CREAM TO 40 CENTS PER LB. BUTTERFAT.
AFTER THE WAR STARTED IN 1939 CONDITIONS IMPROVED IN CALGARY AND MOST OF THE TABLE CREAM PRODUCERS IN OUR AREA STARTED SHIPPING WHOLE MILK TO THE CITY.
MIRIAM AND ALFRED CALLAWAY WERE MARRIED IN CALGARY APRIL 17, 1933 AND THE NIGHT BEFORE WE HAD A TREMENDOUS SNOWSTORM. 17 TOOK US EIGHT HOURS TO GET TO CALGARY.
IN JULY 1934 I WAS BADLY GORED BY A BULL, RECEIVING INJURIES WHICH EVENTUALLY FORCED ME IN 1947 TO LEAVE THE FARM AND SEEK LIGHT WORK.
I WAS PUTTING UP HAY ON JOHN PARK’S PLACE AT THE TIME AND THE NEIGHBOURS FORMED A BEE AND FINISHED THE HAYING FOR ME.
1936 WAS THE DRIEST YEAR WE EVER EXPERIENCED. ALL THE CROPS HAD TO BE CUT WITH A MOWER AND EVERYBODY SCRAPED A BIT OF HAY WHERE EVER THEY COULD, THEN ON NOVEMBER 19 A FIRE, WHICH HAD BEEN BURNING FOR SEVERAL DAYS IN THE FOOTHILLS, FANNED BY A 90 MILE AN HOUR WIND BROKE OUT INTO THE OPEN COUNTRY. BY THE TIME IT GOT TO THE BRUSHY RIDGE DISTRICT IT WAS NEARLY SIX MILES WIDE. WATCHERS STAND ING ON COCHRANE HILL SAID THAT AFTER IT CROSSED THE JUMPING POUND CREEK IT TOOK BUT THREE MINUTES TO COVER THE FIVE MILES TO BRUSHY RIDGE SCHOOL.
ALONG WITH EVERYONE ELSE, WE LOST ALL OUR FEED. THE BARN WAS BURNT WITH 17 PUREBRED REGISTERED COWS BUT WE MANAGED TO SAVE OUR HOUSE. SEVEN HOUSES AND BARNS WERE BURNT IN THE HOLOCAUST.
WE HAD A HARD TO ME MAKING THINGS MEET THAT WINTER BUT THEN OUR LUCK CHANGED AND THINGS WENT RIGHT FOR US.
WITH 1937 THE WETTER YEARS RETURNED AND WE HAD GOOD CROPS EVERY YEAR AFTER.
FOLLOWING THE FIRE | WORKED WITH BILL BATEMAN REPLACING BURNT TELEPHONE POLES.I GOT 25 CENTS AN HOUR AND WAS GLAD TO GET IT BECAUSE MONEY WAS SO SCARCE. WE WENT HOME EVERY NIGHT AS BLACK AS COAL. THE PHONE SYSTEM AT THAT TIME BELONGED TO THE PEOPLE IN THE AREA, IT HAVING BEEN FORCED UPON THEM BY THE ABERHARDT ADMINISTRATION.
LATER ALF CALLAWAY AND I WORKED FOR A CONTRACTOR BUILDING THE NEW BRUSHY RIDGE SCHOOL. THIS BUILDING WAS LATER MOVED FROM THE DISTRICT WHEN THE GOVERNMENT INTRODUCED THE BUSSING SYSTEM.
AFTER PUTTING IN THE CROP I BUILT A NEW BARN WITH THE HELP OF SOME NEIGHBOURS AND THE EXPERTISE OF BOB CHAPMAN OF COCHRANE.
THAT SPRING A FRIEND LOANED ME SOME MONEY AND I BOUGHT FOUR REGISTERED HOLSTIENS FROM MAURICE GIFFEN, A DEALER, AND WHEN WE SOLD OUT IN 1947 WE SOLD OVER 30 HEAD OF REGISTERED ANIMALS.
FROM 1920 TO 1947, TWENTY ODD YEARS, LIKE EVERYONE ELSE IN THOSE TIMES WE HAD LOTS OF TROUBLES AND MANY JOYS.
WE WORKED HARD, SOMETIMES FOR VERY LITTLE REWARD BUT THOSE YEARS WERE A PART OF OUR LIVES WE WOULDN’T WANT TO HAVE MISSED. WE HAD LOTS OF GOOD TIMES BOTH IN THE OLD BRUSHY RIDGE SCHOOL AND THE JUMPING POUND HALL.
WE MADE MANY TRUE FRIENDS DURING THAT TIME WHO WERE, AND STILL ARE, WILLING TO SHARE IN OUR SET BACKS AND REJOICE IN OUR GOOD FORTUNE.
I CLEARED BUSH AND BROKE SOD AND FEEL THAT IN SOME SMALL MEASURE THE JOHNSON’S HELPED TO MAKE THE AREA A SOMEWHAT BETTER PLACE WHEN WE LEFT THAN WHEN WE CAME
Our old cookstove was called “Kitchen Queen.” What a suitable name for the appliance that indeed reigned over our house!
My parents bought their Queen at one of Joe Taylor’s first auction sales. She was huge, measuring about eight feet from warming ledge to the reservoir. It must have been a fair load in the wagon coming home from the sale, for she was solidly built, and I can’t think how they got her into the house.
A temperamental lady, she had to be continually fed with firewood. Not too damp, or would smoke sulkily; not too dry, lest she flares up and threatens to set fire to accumulated soot in the chimney. She disdained green poplar wood, requiring that it be dried in her oven before it was offered to her for consumption
Unlike the Quebec heater in the sitting room, whose warm smile gleamed through the mica windows in its door, day and night Queen refused to work over refused to work overtime and loathed a lump of coal. No amount of persuasion with the bellows would coax her to burn the stuff. She refused to burn even paper until her ashes were emptied, and once a week her flues had to be carefully scraped clean of soot. Not satisfied with being clean, the Queen would threaten to rust if she were not polished to a shiny black with stove blacking and plenty of elbow grease.
My mother was the Queen’s Lady in Waiting. She learned how to coax the Queen to maintain the right oven temperature; the correct size, shape and type of firewood was her only thermostat. Mother persuaded her to simmer a pot of beans, or keep a meal hot in the warming closet, or warm a pan of curds for cottage cheese on a little shelf between the top of the stove and the warming closet. A pan of bread dough, or cold toes, were gently warmed on the Queen’s ledge above the ash box. With Mother’s patient handling she turned out the most delicious food, from delicate eclairs to sturdy stews.
I often used to think that the Queen liked to torment me on hot summer days. She seemed quite willing to keep the irons almost red hot, as long as I stayed alongside her to also keep red hot while I did the ironing.
Our Queen’s reservoir was versatile; if kept replenished, it could provide boiling water on the baking day or ice cubes on a winter morning. Once it sprung a leak; that was a major catastrophe and the Queen seemed to remind us of her importance in our lives every time we heated water in a wash boiler on her lids.
Yes, our Kitchen Queen was important.” pungent aroma of a wood stove and the delicious flavour it imparted to food cooked on its top or the oven, are part of my cherished memory of the past.
The feature image is the familiar view of the chinook arch as seen from Big Hill Country.
THE CHINOOK – by Margaret Maw
There is a mannerism peculiar to the people who live in Southern Alberta, which consists of a sudden jerk of the head as they scan the southwestern horizon. This is caused by a phobia called “Chinookitis,” and it’s very noticeable on a frosty day. These people don’t cringe into their coat collars, or frown at the icy road, for they are intent on detecting that lovely belt of sky-blue light which is the forerunner of a warm Chinook wind.
A great deal of Alberta folklore centres around the Chinook. An Indian legend runs that Chinook was a beautiful maiden who wandered from the tribe, and was lost in the mountains of the southwest. The bravest warriors searched for her without avail, but one day a soft and gentle wind blew from the west. The Indians gazed at each other and whispered, “It is the breath of our beautiful Chinook.” The tales of the pioneers lack this poetic whimsy. For instance, one of them claims he was running a dog team into Calgary on a cold day. A chinook started to blow and while the lead dogs were plunging through deep snow, those behind were smothered in dust. Then there was a man who tied his team to a post sticking up; in came the Chinook, and in the morning his horses were dangling from a church steeple!. These tall tales illustrate in their own way, the rapidity with which cold and snow disappear in the path of a Chinook wind.
These sudden warm winds which raise the temperature as much as fifty degrees in a few hours are not only peculiar to Alberta, they are also experienced in Greenland and Switzerland. The simplest explanation of a Chinook is that when a mass of warm air moves inland from the Pacific, it is forced upwards by the Rocky Mountains. Then as it drops downward towards the Alberta plains the pressure increases, since the air is denser at lower altitudes. Every one thousand feet the air descends, warms the temperature by 5.4 degrees, thus the temperature of air that is forced down ten thousand feet rises fifty-four degrees.
Living in the banana belt isn’t always popular with the youngsters who like winter sports, and many older people blame their aches and pains on these sudden changes in temperature. Trees and shrubs too, suffer occasionally from too much June in January, but most people agree that it makes a pleasant break in the long winter season.
The Chinook area in Alberta extends south beyond the United States border, runs north to Found Olds, and east to Medicine Hat. It’s a weather freak, a mixed blessing, but when the weather forecast is for a “warm, dry wind from the southwest” — when the sky lights up with an arch of heavenly blue, and the air becomes as spring, well – it’s pleasant weather!
Feature image is of Caldbeck, located at the home of Mr. and Mrs. James Patterson, Grand Valley.
BIG HILL COUNTRY RURAL POST OFFICES – Big Hill Country
The early ranchers and homesteaders led an extremely lonely life. The solitude was especially hard for their wives; they seldom left the shack which was their home and often did not see another woman for months.
Little wonder. then, that mail from “Home”. was a treasure to be read and re-read. In addition to the letters which were the only contact with loved ones and friends in the outside world”, supplies were ordered by mail long before the advent of the Eaton’s Catalogue. Yard goods, ready-made garments, furniture, household supplies, tools, machinery, often groceries and medicines, luxuries such as books or music, all were ordered by mail by early settlers in many parts of the West.
Many settlers lived a great distance from the nearest railway and established a post office, and received their mail, perhaps, only a few times a year. Thus it was that as an area became inhabited by sufficient settlers to warrant the establishment of a local post office, the Dominion Government was petitioned for such a service.
The period from 1890 to 1910 saw a number of rural post offices opened in Big Hill Country. They remained open either until the population for some reason did not warrant their continuation or until roads and transportation improvements allowed the residents of the area to travel to a larger center, where stores and other facilities were available, as well as a post office. In other cases, rural mail delivery was started along the main roads.
The following rural post offices were operated throughout Big Hill Country for varying periods of time:
- Caldbeck, located at the home of Mr. and Mrs. James Patterson, Grand Valley.
- Lochend, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. J. K. Laidlaw.
- Inglis, at A. McCrady’s house. It is rather surprising that Inglis and Lochend Post Offices were only about six miles apart, although the area was not thickly settled.
- Bradbourne, later moved a short distance and re-named Dog Pound.
- Bottrel, located in the store first opened by J. T. Boucher, and in operation until 1969.
- Sampsonton, re-located at Madden with the coming of the railway in 1931.
The feature image is of the Miner’s shacks at Mitford.
MINING IN THE COCHRANE AREA — by M. E. Spicer
Several attempts at mining coal took place over the years in the Cochrane area. Most of the mines were abandoned within a short period of time. First ones to search for coal in the area, as far as there is any record of, were Albert McMasters, Charles Bannatyne and Walter Elliot. No doubt others searched for it prior to the railway coming through. In 1885 several efforts were made to establish coal mines in the area, and one gentleman by the name of Chaffey, purchased mining rights in what was known as the “Big Hill” location and he formed the Bow River Mining Company. The Big Hill location was the name given to a promising coal site on the south side of the Bow River, opposite the mouth of Coal Creek. A coal seam was struck a few feet below the surface. In 1886 Mr. Chaffey went into partnership with Mr. Merrill and a short time later Mr. Chaffey dropped out of the Company. The mine was not a success and late in 1886 it flooded.
In January 1887, Merrill removed the machinery and abandoned the mine. The location was sold to J. W. Vaughan who tried mining some coal from it but, late in 1887, he abandoned the mine also. He started prospecting on the north side of the river around the mouth of Coal Creek and soon found a promising seam just east of the creek about three-quarters of a mile above its mouth. A shaft was sunk but Mr. Vaughan was faced with the problem of transporting the coal from the mine to the railway.
The Betsy Rail Line passed a short distance north of the mine and this seemed the obvious solution to the transportation problem. In June 1888, Tom Cochrane and Algernon St. Maur purchased two-thirds interest in the mine and constructed a spur line from the mine to the sawmill track.
In 1890 W. Vaughan evidently sold out his interest in the mine because records show that at a later date the mine was leased to J. H. McNeil. The mine was abandoned in 1890. The slag pile from this mine can still be seen from the 1A Highway west of Cochrane, at Coal Creek.
In 1908 a mine was opened up on Section 13-26 5-5, by Mitford Collieries Ltd. This mine was known as the Valerie Mine. J. Russell and D. Gray were the mine managers and the mine surveyor was F. Bell. The mine was shut down in 1915 with a total production of 20,532 tons.
In 1917 a mine was opened on 17-26-5-5, known as the Radnor mine. The owner was H. E. Lyon with manager J. C. Greenwood. It was abandoned in April 1919, as the water broke into the mine. The total production was 150 tons.
Phillips and Company Ltd. opened a mine on 18-26-5-5 in 1917. The mine manager was John Robertson. It was closed down September 1918, with a total production of 25 tons.
Bonnie Brae Coal Company opened a mine on 6-26-4-5 in October 1911. The mine manager was S. D. McCorkindale; 283 tons were mined and it was shut down in 1912 because the machinery needed replacing and there was a shortage of funds to continue operation. The same mine was reopened in 1924 by W. M. McGlashing. He took out 227 tons. The mine flooded and funds to operate it ran out so it was closed down.
In 1932 Western General Agencies opened a mine on 19-25-4-5. The manager was C. C. Walker. This location was on the Jumping Pound. There is no record of any coal being mined and it was abandoned in 1933.
Duncan Shelly operated the stone quarries north of Cochrane. He tested a number of outcroppings and in 1908 he opened up a stone quarry. The outcroppings were along the northwest side of the valley of Big Hill Creek. The formation of stone mined from the quarries yielded the finest of building stone. The stone was buff in type, but there were variations in grain and colour. The workings were about one and a half miles north of Cochrane at a considerable elevation above the creek. Desirable stone was only found in the upper zone. Considerable overburden and a lot of stone that was of no value, plus the steepness of the banks, restricted development to numerous small openings in the escarpment.
The offices and the cutting plant were located in Calgary. Mr. Shelly advertised in England for stone cutters and masons but he also hired local men to work in the quarry. In the summers of 1911, 1912, and 1913, three quarries were in operation and two hundred men were employed.
Transportation of the stone to the railway was a big problem. The stone had to be hauled to Cochrane and loaded on cars to go into Calgary to the cutting plant. A large number of buildings in Alberta were built using stone from the Shelly Quarries; among some of the buildings are several schools in Calgary. Some of the sandstone buildings have been torn down but there are still some left in the City, for people to admire. The quarries started closing down in 1918 and by the early twenties were completely closed down.
WATER WELLS AND WITCHING FOR WATER – Big Hill Country
The early settlers arriving in Big Hill Country found it very important to find a good source of water near which to build. The water supply and its source played a very important part in the settlers’ choice of land because the amount of water available determined the number of stock they could own. They tried to settle close to a spring or creek, if possible. As more homesteaders moved into the area, other sources of water had to be found, so wells were dug. This was hard work and generally required two persons; one was down the hole digging and filling a bucket, which was then hauled to the surface by his partner, using a rope or a windlass. Often the settler’s wife was the person hauling up the dirt. In many areas the wells were over a hundred feet deep and required cribbing as they were dug, to prevent cave-ins. Once the water was found, the well had to be cribbed regardless of depth. Flat rocks, rails or planks were used. The wells had to be covered to prevent accidents, and a pump installed if the settler could afford one. Otherwise, a rope and windlass system was used.
The art of witching or dowsing for water is a very interesting subject. There are many people who do not believe in it, hence the probable origin of the name “witching”, but if those same people have to have a well drilled, the first thing they do is to start looking for a well-witcher. One witcher in the Cochrane district witched over twenty wells in the area in 1976.
Some water witchers use a forked willow branch and by gripping the two forks firmly, the willow rod will move up and down when placed over and underground current of water. Some people use two metal rods called divining rods or even wire. Sometimes when the willow rods are held tight, and the pull from the underground stream is strong, the witcher’s hands will strip the bark off the willow. The witcher generally tries to find the intersection of two streams of water as a suitable place to drill for water. He can tell how deep the stream is, and how many gallons of water per minute a well can be expected to produce.
Witching does not work for everyone, but when the wrists of an unsuccessful person are held by a witcher, the rod will turn to indicate an underground stream.
An encyclopedia states, “Persons using this device are sometimes successful only because they have a common-sense idea of where water is usually found.” This statement has not always been true; the ability to witch for water seems to be inherited.
Some people call witching magic; others, voodoo; it is even suggested that it is a form of extra-sensory perception. In any case, many of the wells dug or drilled in the Cochrane area through the years have had their location chosen by a water witcher.
This Article was written in 1977 for Big Hill Country. It seems fitting today to include an interpretation of the history of Policing in Canada particularly in our area.
THE MORLEY DETACHMENT OF N.W.M.P. – by Jean L. Johnson
The first connection between the North West Mounted Police and Morleyville came about when Lieutenant-Governor Morris, the first to hold this office in the N.W.T.. requested Rev. George McDougall to proceed on a mission to the Blackfoot and other Indian tribes and explain to them why the Queen was sending a police force to the North West Territories. The McDougalls were very successful in this venture and justified the high opinion in which they were held by both red man and white.
In 1875 the N.W.M.P. had assembled at Tail Creek on the lower crossing of the Red Deer River to await the arrival of General Selby Smyth. One part of the troop was moved to the upper crossing of the Red Deer and ordered to the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers where a fort was to be established. They struck off on a well-marked trail which led them to the Ghost River and on to Morleyville. They then struck east down the Bow River and arrived at the site of their fort. The fact that they were at Morleyville before going on to the chosen location was not an error on their part; this was the regular trail. Other travellers have preferred this route although it was longer than going straight south to Calgary.
On September 22, 1877, the Stoney Indians signed Treaty Number 7, the Chiefs who signed being John Cheneka, Bear’s Paw and Jacob Ki chi-pwot, while among the Stoney Councillors who signed were the familiar names of James Dixon and George Crawler. They received their first treaty payment in 1880. This money was paid out to the Stoney Indians by Inspector Francis Dickens of the N.W.M.P. He was a son of the famous English novelist, Charles Dickens.
The first serious crime from the Morleyville centre occurred in September 1881. Rev. McDougall reported that a large band of horses had been stolen from Morleyville, presumably by Indians from farther south. Investigation showed that the horses had been driven southward towards Fort Macleod, and the word was sent to Supt. Crozier to keep a sharp lookout for them. A small party of N.W.M.P. members was dispatched at once and soon 23 stolen horses were recovered and three Indians arrested. One miscreant turned out to be Jingle Bells who had killed a Cree Indian at the Blackfoot Crossing and had escaped custody at Fort Macleod in the summer of 1880. Another was Marrow Bones, an accomplice of the former and a well-known trouble maker; the third was a youth named The Only-Wood.
When the three were placed on trial for horse stealing they were all found guilty by Magistrate Macleod who was the recently retired N.W.M.P. Commissioner. Jingle Bells was sentenced to three years in Stony Mountain Penitentiary, Manitoba. Marrow Bones drew 18 months in jail at Macleod while The-Only-Wood was given one year.
In 1883 the first actual N.W.M.P. detachment was established at Morleyville. The Post was a log cabin on the north side of the Bow River just north of the Mission down beside Jacob Creek. The main reason for the detachment was the grading and tracking of the C.P.R. as it pushed its way from Calgary. Constant patrolling was kept up along the line with a view to preventing prairie and forest fires. The contractors took little care to keep fires from spreading and much valuable timber was destroyed. Innumerable fires were put out by the Mounties and a large number of arrests made but in most cases, it was impossible to obtain conviction due to lack of evidence.
As the grading went on into the mountains the necessity for further maintaining the detachment at Morleyville disappeared and the non commissioned officers and men from there were moved to the detachment at Padınore, eighteen miles west of Morleyville.
In the distribution sheets for “E” Division, Calgary, in 1888, Morley is shown as a detachment with a strength of two constables and two horses. It is only presumed that when this detachment was re-opened this year, its location was the same as in 1883. There is no definite information on this point. The detachment remained active until 1907, at which time it was closed.
Morley Detachment was re-opened in 1912 with one constable and one horse on strength. The buildings for this Detachment were built on the flat on the south side of the Bow River and the first Mountie there was Constable Barber. On March 1, 1917, the Province of Alberta relieved the Force of police duties and formed the Alberta Provincial Police.
In 1932 the Force absorbed the Alberta Provincial Police and re-opened a detachment in Morley. One corporal and one horse were on strength at the establishment. This posting was lowered to a constable position in 1935. Constable Solway was the last man to patrol from that detachment, mounted. The last R.C.M.P. there was Constable Brian Wright who was in charge of training and handling a Police dog. That was in 1945. In 1946 there were no men at this detachment and only one vehicle on strength. In 1947 the detachment was closed.
In 1935 the old log N.W.M.P. post was moved to Victoria Park in Calgary.
In 1905 the name of the force was changed to Royal North West Mounted Police (R.N.W.M.P.).
In 1920 it became Royal Canadian Mounted Police (R.C.M.P.)
April 19-25 is National Volunteer Week. We have much to be grateful for:
Many of our posts this month have been taken from “Big Hill Country”. I’ve found some extraordinary stories of our past. I’ve come to appreciate the enormous effort from those volunteers. Please take a look at the images that follow.
CHAPS is the organization that funds and runs the Cochrane Historical Museum. We thank all our volunteers that research and develop exhibits, educate members and the public at monthly meetings, staff the museum while dressed in period clothes and those that fund raise to allow the continued operation of the Museum and Projects.
We are in extraordinary times. CHAPS would like to thank all the volunteers and organizations that are looking after our community.
We’d like to hear your story of life during the pandemic. Your story could become the basis of a future exhibit, video, or social media post.
Big Hill Country has a story about the imaginative ways pioneers stayed in touch. Images are from the Internet and not from Big Hill Country.
BARBED WIRE PHONES
By 1947 there were still many homes in Grand Valley without telephone service. Mr. Christie suggested to Audrey Tempany that she should buy two Army Surplus telephones, one to be placed in her home and one in her mother’s. The phones were hooked to the fences between the two places; this meant putting in high posts at gates and on either side of roads so that the connection would not be broken. The success of this system prompted Mr. Christie to buy two more telephones; one was connected to Keith’s house, as Mrs. Keith was very ill, and the other to Mr. Meggitt’s cabin, as he was cutting posts on his land, and lived alone. The same number system as that used by the North Mutual Company was used; Audrey had both telephones and used the same number for each. The rings had a different tone, so she usually answered the right phone. The telephones were sold for about $5 a pair, and within a short time, there were 22 connected within a six-mile radius. Beyond that, the reception was not good.
Audrey was the originator of the idea, and made the ruling, that everyone should listen in on all conversations, or be cut off. On cold winter days, the telephones were in almost continuous use. Visiting would start in the afternoon, with several people talking to each other. Some would sign off to do chores, for supper or to go to bed; others would come on the line, and the hardy ones would talk far into the night. These barbed wire phones served not only to while away lonely hours in the winter, but to relay information about road conditions, who was going to town that could bring out mail and groceries and were very valuable in emergencies such as accidents. Since Audrey had both telephones she was often asked to make outside calls for her neighbours, and she passed on many messages.
The rings did not come in very clearly, and connections were poor in warm wet weather. However, the barbed wire telephones fulfilled a very real need in the winter, in an area that was often badly snowbound.
This article from page 33 of Big Hill Country really paints a picture of the area in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s.
THE NORTH BOW ROUNDUPS
Before the Cochrane area was settled by homesteaders, a number of ranchers owned large herds of horses and cattle. These herds grazed over the unfenced land from the Morley Indian Reserve to Calgary, and generally, mingled together. Early Mounted Police records indicate that Cochrane ranchers’ cattle ranged from the Bow River to the Little Red Deer River, and east to Nose Creek, although they often drifted farther afield in storms, or in search of fresh pasture. According to information in early brand books, some of the ranchers had ranges, but their unfenced boundaries were vaguely defined. For example, an 1896 edition of Henderson’s Brand Booklists E. H. Botterell’s range as the Westbrook Ranch and Dog Pound Creek; Barney Madden’s range was Beaver Dam Creek. The 1903 Brand Book lists the following: A. J. McDonald’s range was north of the Bow River; R. W. Cowan’s, Big Hill Creek; Mount Royal Ranch, north of Cochrane; A. C. Sparrow’s, both sides of the Bow River; Geo. M. McDougall’s, north and south of the Bow, and the Calgary Cattle Co.’s, northwest of Calgary. Only some of the ranchers’ ranges were listed, but it is obvious that cattle or horses could be “at home on the range” almost anywhere.
No information or photographs are available about any roundups of horses in the Cochrane area; herds were generally small enough that they were, presumably, kept closer to the home ranch.
The intermingling of various herds meant that the cattle had to be gathered occasionally and sorted. Roundups were usually held in the fall. The owners sorted their cows and calves so that the calves could be branded and weaned. Steers were also cut out for fattening or immediate sale; any mavericks were cut out and trailed to market. Proceeds from their sale were generally divided among those ranchers having cattle in the bunch that was rounded up.
After mange became prevalent, dipping was made compulsory in 1904, and roundups were held for that purpose.
In 1890 a census of livestock in Southern Alberta was taken by the Mounted Police. Figures were compiled from ranchers’ estimates, the judgements of N.W.M.P. patrol constables and roundup figures. Livestock numbers listed were very approximate; estimates of the big ranchers would be low, while small ranchers would tend to exaggerate a bit. The report lists the following Cochrane district ranchers and the number of animals they owned:
|Bow River Horse Ranch||500||--|
|Leeson and Scott||--||615|
|Mount Royal Ranch||--||600|
|W. D. Kerfoot||53||500|
|Shea and Madden||--||200|
The biggest roundup in Alberta’s history took place in May 1884, near Fort Macleod. One hundred men took part, using a remuda of five hundred horses. Fifteen mess wagons provided food for the men. About sixty thousand cattle were rounded up. Picture the vastness of the herd, the noise, and the dust! Picture, too, the problems involved in feeding, watering, holding and sorting such a large number of cattle. The ranchers involved decided that such a general roundup was too cumbersome, and from then on smaller ones were held.
No information is available as to the size of roundups in the Cochrane area but judging from photographs, several thousand cattle were gathered. The gathering area was at Cochrane Lakes; abundant water and grass were available there, and the fairly level land north and east of the lakes also made it a suitable place.
When one speeds along the Dog Pound road, officially known as Highway 22, it is difficult to visualize the country as it looked in 1900 or before. The largest of the three Cochrane Lakes can be seen west of the road. Roundup camps were generally situated on the east side of the lakes. The cattle were held east and north of the lakes, possibly because of the heights of land to the south and west.
According to photographs, which unfortunately are not dated, about twenty men usually took part in the Cochrane Lakes roundup. There is no definite information as to when the last roundup took place. It can be assumed that settlement, which meant the end of the open range, and the severe winter of 1906-07, during which hundreds of cattle perished, ended the practice in about 1907.
Other roundups held in Big Hill Country included those on the Beaver Dam Creek (gathering place unknown), and at Rocky Butte, on Section 24-26-2-5, north of Jim Stevenson’s present home. According to reports, the last roundup at Rocky Butte was held about 1910, and twenty thousand cattle were gathered.
Laurie Johnson recalls:
“In the fall of 1910, there was a cattle roundup at Rocky Butte. It covered the territory from Nose Creek to the Bow River and west to Cochrane Lakes. There was a shack for the cookhouse, where a man named Charlie did the cooking, and there was a tent for the riders. One or two of the ranchers who lived nearby went home at night. As the cattle were gathered, they were held in fields that had been fenced.
“The following ranchers took part in the roundup: James Robertson of Crossfield, D. P. McDonald of Mount Royal Ranch, George McDonald of Rocky Butte, Ernie Archibald, Gustave Delbeke, Johnny Robinson of Big Springs Ranch, Fred Newsome of the Burnt Ground, Angus McDonald of Beaver Dam, and myself. I was working for Angus McDonald and was fourteen years old at that time. I am the only one of these men alive today.”
As Big Hill Country becomes more heavily populated, fences crisscross even the quarter sections, and pasture fields steadily shrink. It becomes harder to visualize our country as it was when cowboys gathered the free-ranging cattle for the roundup. The words of the song, Don’t Fence Me In, are a lament for the “good old days.”
Cochrane once had a second Hotel on Main Street where the Royal Bank currently is. Its story and its founder is described on page 249 of “Big Hill Country”
Images courtesy of “Big Hill Country” and CHAPS archives. Click on any image for a larger version.
A.J. MURPHY AND THE ALBERTA HOTEL — by Helen Murphy Brown
It has been said of A. J. Murphy that he was a great contributor to the development and prosperity of Alberta, and that his accomplishments did much to make the resources of Alberta known and its opportunities and future appreciated not only in Eastern Canada but in the United States.
Joe Murphy, as he was known to his friends, was born and educated in Mount Forest, Ontario.
In 1882 when he was twenty years old his father, who was a Dominion land surveyor, took him West with a survey party. From Brandon, Manitoba, they travelled by Red River carts to Prince Albert, surveying ten townships before returning to Winnipeg in the fall of 1883. There the young man went into the plumbing business, and it was not until the spring of 1888 that he continued west to Calgary where he started a boot and shoe business. In 1891-92, or possibly earlier, he carried the mail between Calgary and Macleod. About this time the railway between those towns was completed so he bought some teams of horses and went to work on the construction of the Crow’s Nest Pass Railroad. Later he took his outfit to Lake Dauphin on the C.P.R.
Although he had many interests his greatest love was for good horses and the most famous of the many he owned was the Thoroughbred, Cyclone. In 1896 he showed him at the Toronto Exhibition and as this was the only entry from the Northwest Territories the horse was transported free of charge from Winnipeg to Toronto. That year Cyclone was shown at the racetracks in Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, Detroit and at the Chicago World’s Fair. On the track, he won many races and his name was known on both sides of the border to all who were interested in good horses.
J. Murphy was an excellent judge of a horse and was asked to judge at many shows. This he enjoyed doing. He would drop everything to talk “horse” with an interested or knowledgeable person. About 1900 he located a horse ranch about two miles from Cochrane, adjacent to the present St. Francis Retreat, and made it one of the most important stock farms in Alberta. He raised Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds and draft horses that won many ribbons for him at the Calgary Exhibition and other shows. Ike Pepper worked for him at the ranch, enabling him to attend to his many other interests. He was one of the founding members of the Cochrane Racing Association and was a starter at the Cochrane Race Track for many years.
In 1898 he and his brother, Jim, built the Alberta Hotel on the main street in Cochrane. This was a large frame building, three stories high, with a verandah across the front and a balcony above the verandah. The hotel became the social centre for Cochrane and a large surrounding district and was the scene of certain wild and woolly escapades. In that same year, they built the Murphy Livery Stable, and closer to the hill Joe Murphy had a lumber yard. He turned the management of the livery stable over to someone else but managed the lumber yard himself.
In 1904 he married Miss Helen O’Reilly of Norwood, Ontario. In 1905 he gave up the management of the hotel, rented it to others and moved into a house about a block away. In 1910 he built a fine home at the mouth of the coulee. The stable had a high stone foundation, the yard was nicely landscaped and the lot surrounded ed by a stone wall. In 1920 this house was sold to the Gillies family.
Mr. and Mrs. Murphy had one daughter, Helen, and after Jim Murphy’s death, they raised his son, Jim. The other children of Jim Murphy often spent the summers with their aunt and uncle. Helen Murphy married Ed Brown who predeceased her. They had a son and a daughter who have distinguished themselves in their respective careers, Ken as an engineer, and Sylvia in the Department of External Affairs. She is Secretary to the Canadian High Commissioner, has been stationed in Paris, Tokyo, Singapore, Nairobi and Guyana and she is fluently bi-lingual.
Joe Murphy’s many achievements were invaluable to his community and his province. Yet all who knew him loved him most for his wonderful personality and disposition and for his kindness to all in need. No one was ever turned away from his door. He was a loyal friend, an entertaining host and a gentleman. An old friend remembers that his remarks were often prefaced with the words, “Do you see -.” “Do you see,” he would say, “It would last as long as a white shirt in a free fight!”
On June 25th, 1920, Joe Murphy was injured in a car accident. He was taken to the Holy Cross Hospital in Calgary. Mrs. Murphy who was a Registered Nurse stayed with him and helped to nurse him, but he died on July 17, 1920.
The funeral was the largest that had ever been held in Cochrane. Requiem High Mass was celebrated by the Rev. Father Hermes in St. Mary’s of Cochrane. F. L. Gainer sang and there were many beautiful flowers and wreaths. A multitude of friends joined with his family in mourning his loss and fifty cars were in the funeral cortege that climbed the Big Hill to the Catholic cemetery.
Mrs. Murphy and Helen went to live in Calgary but kept the hotel. It was rented and on one occasion was sold but Mrs. Murphy had to take it back. The last renter was J. W. Dickenson. In 1927 it was destroyed by fire. A few furnishings were saved but the big oil painting of Cyclone which hung there was overlooked and lost.
NOTE: Helen Murphy Brown passed away in May 1975.