Presidents report from 2024 Spring Dinner by Larry Want

Some photos from last night. Look at the name of the 2 wine bottles, so they had a laugh about the stories I made up!

The person who won the 50/50 donated the $340, back to CHAPS. I think it was the Manager-Kim, but not sure. We received $1,000. from the Legion for our Wood Carving sculpture. Kevin Lemke approached the legion for this donation.

Great roast beef meal and desserts. We booked 85 seats and had added 6 for late comers. Only one table for 6 empty. I read part of the Melvin Davidson story sent to us from Leigh Davidson & the petty theft story. I think people enjoyed it.

Lydia and Bernice donated 4 other baskets consisting of beer, wine, cheese, crackers, Canadian Tire mixed items and lots of scratch tickets. Noel Edey from Cochrane Now attended and took pictures.

It seems everyone enjoyed the meal and the good conversation with friends and family.

We also asked for many volunteers for August 5th celebration and quite a few signed up last night.

Five years ago today, Big Hill Springs Flooded

At today’s AGM, Larry Want recalled that 5 years ago this very date and time the Museum was heavily damaged by spring flooding.

Here is the story of the flood and our recovery.

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


Deep Dive


Sunday, March 24th, 2024 at 2:00 pm

FCSS Building – Basement

Entrance is on the north side of the building

This meeting will cover:

 1. Approval of minutes of previous Annual General Meeting   

2. Presentation of Financial Statements of 2023  

3. President’s Report  

4. Committee Reports  

5. Updates: 

a) Spring Dinner – April   20th, 2024

b) Stump Project

c) Celebration of CHAPS’s 25th Anniversary in 2024

6. Election of Officers and Directors 


The Vision of Cochrane Pioneers

Cochrane’s continued explosive growth made me consider why I’m a member of CHAPS and of an article I compiled about the Nan Boothby Memorial Library a couple of years ago. The Town is also concerned as they recently asked for public input.

The mission of CHAPS is to identify, preserve, protect, and educate the public about
historically significant properties and buildings in Cochrane, Alberta. With this growth we can lose the memories and consequently the vision of early settlers.

The Cochrane Historical Museum supported by CHAPS is run by volunteers and is in need of your support.

Become a Member

CHAPS needs volunteers to support the Museum, its Executive, and a variety of projects.

“Gordon Davies, a CHAPS member who remembers visiting Nan and her library in the basement as a kid said volunteers are the cornerstone to many services in town and their efforts shouldn’t be forgotten once it’s taken over municipally. It’s a shame that people who are recent residents of Cochrane don’t understand (the history). I think that’s too bad because I think that part of Cochrane is really important. I think there are other organizations and groups that will face the same thing.” Davies said.”

“Cochrane now enjoys a Library that was started by the vision and hard work of our community’s great-grandmothers in tough times. I hope this history won’t be lost.”

Deep Dive

How do you want Cochrane’s history remembered?

The Town of Cochrane is updating their (our) Municipal Development Plan. They are asking for input in how we move forward with growth and development while remembering our past and values.

CHAPS exists to educate people about our rich history so we have a vested interest.

If you’d like to know more about the Towns’ MDP, follow this link.

If you’d like to know more about CHAPS and how you can get involved:

– CHAPS website.

– Membership.

Rider Image Outline pg 5 A Peep into the Past Vol 1

2022 Membership Drive concludes

CHAPS 2022 Membership Drive has drawn to a close. Thanks to everyone that chose to get involved by becoming a member or renewing their membership.

I was part of the nighttime crew for one shift at the recent Casino. I was impressed that eight of our supporters donated their time for just that shift in our major fundraiser for CHAPS and the Cochrane Historical Museum. Thanks to Donna Morris who organized and all the volunteers who got involved over the two days and nights.

I also want to share a story of why I continue to be a member. I have been using Google Earth Pro to better visualize historic Cochrane. We often get asked where certain buildings are located by interested people and the media. Since businesses have been in multiple locations in the last 120 years there is often confusion.

I’m thinking that by using Google Earth Pro, our photo archives and the map overlays in the back of Big Hill Country we can do a better job of answering these questions. For me, a question I’ve always had was quickly answered.


All Saints Church with St Mary’s in background.

This photo and the location of the two churches always puzzled me. While building a pre-1900 view of Cochrane this question was quickly resolved.

The photos below show All Saints was on the corner of 2nd Ave and 2nd street, while St Marys was north across 2nd street.

If you’d like to get involved, just follow this link to our membership page.

Summer employment opportunity 2022

The Cochrane Historical and Archival Preservation Society
(CHAPS) is offering a summer employment opportunity as a museum assistant at the Cochrane Museum, #80 Highway 1A, Cochrane AB from
June 1 – Sept 5, 2022.

This full time position (35 hrs/wk) requires the successful candidate to work weekends when the Museum is open to the public. Primarily duties at these times involve facilitation of the Museum operations including opening/closing, greeting visitors and interacting with our guests to ensure a quality visitor experience.

During closed hours the successful candidate will engage in activities that support the maintenance and enhancement of the museum and archival collection. This may include researching, organizing, and preserving various aspects of the collection.

The ideal candidate will possess a mature and responsible attitude, strong interpersonal and communication skills, and the ability to work independently. Basic knowledge and competency in computer skills is necessary. Previous work in a library or archival environment is an asset and general interest in local history is beneficial.

The Museum offers a competitive salary, clean indoor working environment and a supportive management style. Outside of the Museum public hours, a flexible work schedule can be arranged.

Please submit a resume and references by April 15 to: Candidates selected for interview will be contacted.

We are grateful to so many

I was looking for the next article to re-publish on our blog. I didn’t have to go far. I re-read the acknowledgements of More Big Hill Country.

I was struck by the goals of the organization and the number of people involved. I shouldn’t have been surprised by either as our town was built by people that saw what could be. It also  shows what can be accomplished by community.

So here are the acknowledgements from More Big Hill Country, Cochrane and Area 1945-1980.

In writing this sequel to the Big Hill Country book, we have attempted to record, the future, the continuing advancements and growth that the descendants– of the pioneers in the early 1880’s and those that have come later, carried on their initiatives and built a town and industry to support themselves and the people of Alberta. 

In some cases, the reader may find some repetition to the Big Hill Country stories, but that was done in order to familiarize the relationships going back many years and the generations that have followed. The newcomers who arrived after 1945, also pioneered in their own right, bringing their talents and fortitude to help make a living in this beautiful country a pleasure. 

We would like to acknowledge the Book Committee of CHAPS for their hard work and dedication. Co-Chairs, Marilyn Whittle, Bernice Klotz, Business Manager Gayle Want; Copy Editor, Margaret Buckley; Typist, Lynda Alderman; Proof Readers and Writers, Ellen Buckler, Arlene Hepburn, Shannon Want, Dorothy Anderson, Bev Genung, Dave Whittle, Ken Thompson, Gordon Davies and Ernie Trosch. Our thanks also to Janette Whittle for the cover drawing and to David Callaway, who with his talent in the publishing business, volunteered to get the book “print-ready” for us. Our thanks also to the many phoners and helpers we needed to complete this task. 

Our very sincere appreciation goes to the Cochrane and Area Community Foundation, Cochrane Eagle newspaper, Stockmen’s Memorial Foundation, the Cochrane Advocate newspaper, the Old Timer newspaper, Cochrane Royal Canadian Legion, Town of Cochrane, Bearspaw Historical Society, Cochrane Times newspaper, Calgary Herald newspaper, Glenbow Museum and Archives, Bearspaw Lions, Sure Print Copy and Tremar Computer Solutions. 

We have attempted to get as accurate information as possible and regret any unintentional omissions. Due to the fact that the Big Hill Country book was printed as a limited edition, we would ask you to visit the Nan Boothby Library or the Stockmen’s Memorial Foundation Library to read any of the previous family or area histories and stories. 

We hope that you will enjoy with us the history of the little town by the Bow River that grew and has prospered in the beautiful surrounding farm and ranch country that has, for so many years, been a great supplier of agricultural products for your table and home. 

CHAPS needs a secretary

Duties normally take just 3 hours a month and include:

– Main duty is attending meetings and taking minutes doing up agendas.
– Keep and update membership list.
– Organize and send out AGM notices
– Check CHAPS emails and forward to appropriate person
– Check CHAPS phone for messages and forward to appropriate person ( not a lot of use at this point)
– Keep and maintain CHAPS office

Usually 2 – 3 hours a week depending on meetings. Time is in small increments, usually in your own schedule.

CHAPS sends condolences

CHAPS would like to recognize the passing of the subjects of two of our recent stories. Horst Wirsig, who told the stories of his family’s immigration and adventures after World War II passed away in January. Bob Smith who told stories of Seebe, Lake Minnewanka, photography and nature also passed away in January.

Both had their stories captured on video in the Oral History Project (History Resource Committee, M.D. Bighorn).

CHAPS sends our condolences to family and friends.

How did you celebrate Heritage Day?

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.

Volunteer Week 2020

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.

Dedication Big Hill Country by Marjorie Spicer
The Pioneers by Fred Kidd MLA
Lt. Gov Ralph Steinhauer Q.C.

Recovering from the flood, Looking forward

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

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

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


Thank you Cochrane Foundation!

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

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

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

My Volunteer Story – Mark Boothby

CHAPS is looking for volunteers. We have a role for people with any type of time commitment. I’ve read that may non-profits attract people by existing members explaining their experience. Given that, I want to share what I gain by volunteering.

The above photo is one of our Grand Father at the time of the opening of the Legion. My volunteer experience has turned up several photos of family I’d not seen before.

I grew up in this area but pursued careers away for several decades. My wife and I returned just a couple of years ago to a town much different. We wanted to meet people and renew acquaintances so we looked for opportunities.

When I was young my parents and brothers went on many drives through the area. Both parents grew up here and we heard many stories. I’ve come regret that I didn’t really pay attention and forgot most of the details.

I heard about CHAPS and the Cochrane Historical Museum from a teacher and coach Gordon Davies. That convinced me I should get involved.


One of my jobs has been to refresh our website whose style and content had become dated.  Since one of my careers had been in Information Technology, I was happy to take on the task and develop the site with alot of help from contractors, photographers and volunteers.

Just recently, I came across this display about our grand parents in the Museum. It contains a very nice write up and photos. Many, if not most of the details I’d not been aware of.


One of my projects has been to electronically scan CHAPS albums. I’ve come across many photos of family that I’d not seen prior, like this one of our dad on the right, next to life time friend Bob Beynon.

I’ve gotten involved in research for this blog and for an article series for the Cochrane Times. While looking for and researching those articles I came across this drawing my dad did for my aunt Audrey Brown. I’d had an idea Dad had drawn but I’d never seen him do it. I was delighted at his talent and sense of humour. I’d only heard him called Billy by one person my whole life, yet that was how he signed it.

During the development of our social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube I’ve met people that I would not have without this volunteer opportunity.

I’m very happy to have been involved in a project on our YouTube channel that CHAPS sponsored years ago called 100 Stories for 100 Years.  The idea of that program was to capture some of the historical and simply people stories about Cochrane and area. Those videos have been in our archives for years but are now visible to people on YouTube. The videos contain many interesting and historical stories.

As time flies by, I’m very happy to be involved in the culture and history of the area. I believe that no matter how long you’ve been in Cochrane, have some extra energy, ideas and want to get involved we have a role for you

Get in touch

We have a role for you.

It’s time to renew your Membership

Membership fees for the 2019/2020 year are now due. If you would like to continue to be a member of CHAPS, please forward the payment as soon as possible. 

Dues remain $10 for an individual, $15 for a family, and $25 for a corporation.

The mailing address is:


P.O. Box 2104,
Cochrane, AB T4C 1B8

We need your help in any of the following volunteer opportunities in:

  • Research
  • Social Activities
  • Membership
  • Museum committee
  • Fundraising
  • Social Media


Museum staffing future clouded

The Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) was recently cancelled. CHAPS has used the STEP program this past summer to partially fund the salaries of 2 summer employees. (Photo of Jade Lewis and Tim Collard)

With the cancellation of the program, CHAPS is exploring other options for the funding of summer employees to maintain our summer hours of operation.

A link to the Province’s announcement follows:

Comments or suggestions? Comments are moderated so please keep the nature of comments positive.

Phase 2 Historic Signs Installed

CHAPS recently sponsored the installation of 5 more historic signs. Each sign details a bit of the history involved with the site and why it’s important to our local story.

They include the Range Grill, Murray Hardware, Camden House, Shoemaker shop, and Meat Locker plant.

Thanks to all the volunteers and contractors that helped with the construction and installation. These signs help CHAPS fulfill our mission of educating people about the history of our beautiful town.

Everyone's high school favourite, the Range Grill.
Camden House - 120 3 Ave West
Shoemaker Shop - across 119 1 Ave
Locker Plant - across from 316 1st St W
Murray Hardware - across from 118 2 Ave W

My first visit to the Museum after flood repairs.

Today was my first chance to get back into the Cochrane Historical Museum after flood damage this past spring. The exhibits on the first floor were unharmed but the archives, work area and meeting space on the lower floor were significantly damaged.

I am sure impressed. Not only have repairs been done but it looks better and more functional than before. The area is divided into an Archives, meeting space and research space that is more attractive and useful than before.

Meeting area and one research station

The chance of future flooding reaching the Museum has been eliminated by adding a berm.

Berm to reduce flooding

Gravel placed around foundations

Access to the lower floor has been improved by making changes to the original stairs.

Improved access to lower floor

Thanks to all the volunteers, donators and contractors that made this possible. The history of our beautiful town can again be displayed.

want more details?

Fill in your details and we'll be in touch