Boothby Family

John and Nancy Boothby Family Page 303 More Big Hill Country 2009

John Boothby came to Cochrane from Cheshire, England. His mother died in 1905 when he was ten years old. His father William, came to Canada soon after his wife died to work at the Cochrane Stone Quarry. 


In 1911, John came to Cochrane and found work at the Collins Brickyard. He fell ill with typhoid fever a month after he arrived and was hospitalized at the Davies Hospital as a patient of Dr. Park. John then spent three months recuperating at the home of Robert Dawson. The Dawson family had lived about seven miles from the Boothbys in England. 

Collins Brick Yard 1911
John William Boothby 10th Battalion Jan 1916


John worked in and around Cochrane until he joined the 137th Battalion of the Canadian Army in World War I. He served at Vimy Ridge and was wounded. After hospitalization in England he returned to the trenches until the end of the war. He received his discharge in September 1919 following a stay in England. 

John returned to Cochrane and homesteaded the SW Sec 34 Twp 26 Rge 4 W5M through the Soldier Settlement Board. This land had been a Government Water Reserve that had been set aside in the early days of the pioneers so that everyone could get water. He stocked his farm with sheep bought from Bill Tempany. 

Nancy Harbidge came to Calgary at the age of six months in 1903 with her parents, brother Charles and uncle, aunt, and their three children. They stayed in the Immigration Hall for a few days before living in a tent near a quarry ten miles north of the city of Calgary, where Mr. Harbidge found work, cutting stone at Allan’s Quarry on Nose Creek. Then they lived in a tar paper shack her father built. A year or so later, they moved to Hillhurst and built another shack to live in. While here Mrs. Harbidge had a second son. 

In 1905 Mr. Harbidge and Mo Adams filed on homesteads in the Bottrel area. After building tar paper shacks they moved their families to the farms in November. The snow was deep and they had to sleep under the wagons on the two day trip to their new homes. 

The closest post office was Bottrel, six miles north. Mr. Harbidge had to walk there and back for their mail. He worked in Calgary, returning to the farm on weekends and going back to Calgary, leaving at 12:00 AM on Monday so as not to travel on Sundays. He did this until he was able to stock the farm with animals and work the land on a permanent basis. 

Six more children were born to this family. All the children were: Charles, Nancy, Mike, Alice, Miriam, Mary, Ruth, Samuel and Dan. Ruth died at age eight and Samuel died at age thirteen. Charles married Violet West in 1919. Mike and Dan married sisters Matilda and Lavina Hamm respectively. Mary married Henry Hupkes, Miriam married Kornelis Westra while Alice married Marlow Blatchford. 


John Boothby married Nancy Harbidge in September 1923. They had two sons, Bill and Bruce. Bill was born March, 1926 in the Tom Quigley house on the corner of First Street East and Pope Avenue. The family moved to Cochrane in 1927. John continued to work on the farm often working with Frank Whittle doing the haying and baling. Nancy worked hard on the farm along side of John. Bruce was born in January 1934. 

Nancy was self educated and very community minded. She was involved as a Sunday School teacher at St. Andrews United Church, a Charter Member of the Cochrane Branch of the Eastern Star as well as one of the Founders of the Cochrane Library, where she volunteered for many years. Nancy passed away in September of 1962. Years later the Cochrane Library was named the Nan Boothby Memorial Library in her honour. John retired in Cochrane. He spent many hours playing cards with friends. He and Ernie Crowe took part at the Sod Turning and Opening Ceremonies of the New Legion Hall in 1974. 

Nan Boothby Memorial Library
John Boothby, Walter Crowe with shovels

John and Nancy’s son Bill married Dorothy Reed of Cochrane and they had three sons: Mark, Laurie and Dana. They ranched north of Cochrane. 

Bruce married Dorothy Ellett from Mearns, Alberta and they had two daughters Susan and Joan. They ranched in Grand Valley. 

Bruce Boothby Family Ranch at Grand Valley

William and Dorothy Boothby by Dorothy Boothby

William (Bill) Boothby and Dorothy Reed were married on January 5, 1957, in the North Hill United Church in Calgary. The Reverend Pottruff was the Minister and his wife, Mrs. Pottruff, stood up for us. After the wedding, we drove to Okotoks to tell my parents, Sydney and Lilian Reed. Mom and Dad moved to Okotoks as the Cochrane Creamery was taken over by Mrs. Loughery’s nephew. Lilian and Sydney Reed lived in Cochrane for 35 years. Dad had many jobs but worked for the Creamery until 1953. 

Cochrane Creamery Limited

Bill and Dorothy had three sons. Mark was born December 8, 1957, Laurie October 14, 1959 and Dana August 25, 1961. We lived 1 1/2 miles north of Cochrane on the Bottrel Road. The children had to be taken to school as the bus came much later. 

Boothby Ranch Barn and Outbuildings built by McConachies
JW Boothby buys Just Home Ranch

There was a great rivalry between Walter Lyons and Bill as to who had the best horse. I don’t think that was ever settled, they both won their share of races. 

Bill and I both curled in the rink next to the United Church and he was the Draw Master for many years.

We had both started in Cochrane’s oldest curling rink next to the Blacksmith’s Shop. I worked for Andison’s store for a short time then joined the Credit Union and worked for 15 years. 

Mark spent some time with Highway Patrol, but now is a Computer Programmer for the City of Red Deer. He married Della Burke from Williams Lake, British Columbia. Laurie moved to Toronto and worked in the steel industry. While down east, he married Thelma Duguay from New Brunswick. After the economy slowed, they moved back to Cochrane when they had a baby daughter, Celina. 

The Boothby ranch bought a piece of land around Bashaw where Laurie, Thelma and Celina moved. In 1995, they had a son Julian. We kept the farm until 2004 when BSE took its toll in the ranching business. Laurie and his family now live in Red Deer. 

Dana stayed on the ranch after going to the University of Calgary; he married Melanie Cherwayko of Bearspaw on January 3, 1987. They have three sons: Tanner, Riley and Reed, currently in school. 

Bill became ill in the 1980’s so Dana had to be ranch manager. We moved to Cochrane in 1990 and Bill’s health failed; he passed away December 3, 2006. I still live in my home in Cochrane.

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