C.W. Fisher

by Marjorie Spicer Big Hill Country Pg 228 

Charles Wellington (C. W.) Fisher was born near London, Ontario, in 1871. His parents came to Canada from Perthshire, Scotland. At the age of 28 years, Charles came west to the Cochrane area. 

In 1899 Charles purchased the Merino Ranch and a large amount of business property in Cochrane. He stocked his ranch with registered Shorthorn cattle and after tearing down the trading store owned by James Johnstone and Tom Quigley, he put up a large business block, known as the Fisher Block. The building had a store, hardware, meat market, business offices, doctors’ offices, and in later years the Union Bank, the telephone office and the office of the Cochrane Advocate. Besides all these businesses a room was reserved as Liberal Campaign headquarters. 

After putting up the business block Charles sold the Merino ranch to A. McPherson. 

In 1905 Charles entered the political field. Alberta had been declared a province and a cabinet was being formed. Charles, who was a strong Liberal and had a lot of Liberal supporters in Cochrane and the surrounding area, decided to run as a representative for the Cochrane area. He won it, and in 1906 became the first Speaker of the House and remained as such until 1919. 

Soon after his election to parliament, Charles married Miss Marjorie Powell, niece of Mrs. Fred Carling. Charles purchased land north of 

the village including the “Big Hill” and he made plans to build a large stone house for his bride. Stonemasons were brought over from England to cut the stone and help build the house. When the family moved into the house, maids were hired to run the household and cooks were brought over from England. 

The Fishers lived lavishly, did a great deal of entertaining, and one of the highlights of the season was a wolf hunt each fall. There were never any wolves captured as far as anyone can recall. 

The children had their own pony to drive, a carriage was imported from New York for the children to ride in, and a special barn was built to house the pony and the carriage. The children used to drive to Cochrane School with their pony and carriage. 

Mrs. Fisher and her family moved to Victoria in 1917. She found life in Cochrane too lonesome while her husband was in Edmonton. Charles died in 1919 as a result of an attack of the flu. Mrs. Fisher never did return to Cochrane to live. The large house and the land were operated by Mr. Fisher’s half-brother, Tom, for a number of years. 

Charles Fisher and his wife had five children, three boys and two girls. 

The Fisher home and the land were sold around 1932 to Mr. Tweddle and in the 1940s it was sold to Harry and Jack McConachie. They made several improvements to the house and the grounds, and in the late 1940s they sold it to the Franciscan Order, and it is now known as the Mount St. Francis Retreat. 

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