Andy Anderson and Dorothy Anderson Family

by Dorothy Anderson pg 260More Big Hill Country 2009

Andy’s paternal grandfather, Andrew Gustave Anderson, was born in Sweden in 1862. When he was still a baby he immigrated to the U.S.A. with his family. As a young man, he traveled west and finally settled in Forest City, Iowa. He farmed there and married Mary Jane Nallach. Eight children were born to them. The sixth child, Ralph, was Andy’s father. 

The Anderson family immigrated to Canada in 1907 and located in Carstairs, Alta. They later moved to Carburn, Alta. in 1909 and homesteaded there. Gus, as he was known, operated a large farm until his death in 1934. After his death, his sons Meryl and Clyde operated the farm. His youngest son, Ralph, went to Carstairs for a job when he was 20 years old, and there met Ruby Richardson. They were married in 1921. 

Andy’s maternal grandparents, Charles Wesley Richardson and Clarissa Wilford Herron married in Dacatur, Illinois, in 1880. While living in Illinois they had three sons and a daughter. They moved on to Nebraska and three boys and two girls were born there. The next move was to Forest City, Iowa and they had one more daughter, Ruby. In 1912 Charles and Clarissa and their six youngest children immigrated to Canada and homesteaded in the Carstairs District. Charles Richardson died in 1940 and Clarissa moved to Calgary with her daughter Ruby and died there in 1947. 

Ruby and Ralph’s first child was born in Carstairs and named Carrol Edwin, otherwise known as Andy. For the next few years, the young family lived either in Carstairs or Carbon. In 1928 they moved to Bergen where Andy did all his schooling. At the age of 14, he left home and went to Calgary to find work. These were the depression years so he worked on farms, in the city, or wherever he could find work. In Calgary one day he ran into his parents and found out they were working on a dairy in the Bearspaw District and he joined them there. In 1942 the Canadian Government said that in the next year, they would bring in compulsory enlistment in the forces to help with the war in Europe. Andy and a neighbour, Nick Chalack, went into Calgary and enlisted in the Calgary Highlanders. They did their basic training in Currie Barracks and left for England in May 1943. 

My paternal grandfather, George Dell, was born in 1872 in Hemel Hempstead, Herefordshire, England. As a young man, he moved to Watford, a large town on the outskirts of London. There he met and married Florence Joslyn, a young lady who had come to London from Aberysyth, Wales, to find work. George and Florence married and had six children, three boys, and three girls. My father Harry was the second of these children. The family moved to London and George went to work for the Great Western Railway as a carrier. In 1912 Florence died. The eldest child Fred left home and, because the youngest was a sickly child, a great deal of the family responsibility fell upon Harry. The First Great War began in 1914, but Harry couldn’t go as he was deaf in one ear. Harry also worked for the Great Western Railways and when the War ended in 1918 workers all over England were determined to get unions. Harry was an avid worker for the Unions and was his shop representative for the rest of his working days. At one time he was on the Executive for the National Union of Railwaymen.

My maternal grandmother was born in 1875 in Reading, Berkshire, and named Emily Elizabeth Aldridge. She married George Brown of the same district in 1898. They had two children, George born in 1899 and Georgine May born in 1900. A bad influenza hit England that year and George Brown and his young son George were both victims. My grandmother moved back to the farm with her young daughter and later moved to London to get work. There she met and married William Bates. They had four children: William born in 1906, Albert 1908, and boy and girl twins who died at birth in 1910. 

May Brown, my mother, was just 14 when war was declared in 1914, and she had just finished schooling. She worked at a munitions factory in London. After the war ended a friend of my mother introduced her to a friend of her husband. This friend was Harry Dell. Mother told us that her first date with Harry was to see the “big military parade” in London after the end of the war. Harry and May were married in 1920 and had two daughters, Eileen born in 1922, and Dorothy born in 1924. 

My mother’s brother, Bert was a rather sickly child and was told by the doctors to “go west young man”. This he did and at the age of 16 left for Canada. When the war was declared between England and Germany, Bert tried to enlist in both the Air Force and the Navy but was turned down. In December 1942 he went to Calgary and was accepted by the Calgary Highlanders, the same time that Andy enlisted. On the ship going from Canada to England Andy and Bert became good friends. They had a 48-hour leave as soon as they landed so Bert took Andy home to meet his mother. This was a big event for all the family and they were all at Grandmother’s to meet the Canadians. Bert and Andy didn’t get too many leaves as they were all over England and Scotland on training. When each of them did get a leave they always brought another Calgary Highlander member home to Gran’s with them. 

Andy was with the Calgary Highlanders when they went to France and was with them through France, Holland, and Germany, and by this time was a sergeant. In an engagement near Wyler, Germany, he was awarded the Military Medal. Soon after this, he was sent back to England to take a Guard’s School and upon completing this, had the rank of CSM. After he returned to Germany the war ended and the Calgary Highlanders were one of the first regiments to be sent home. Andy was given the choice of going with them or transferring to the Regina Rifles for a year. He chose to stay in Germany. With the war now over he had regular leaves every three months. He still had his leaves at Gran’s or Bert’s so I saw a lot more of him. On his last leave in England, he proposed to me. At this time all shipping around the world was employed in either taking war brides to their new homes or transporting military to or from the East. Immigrants were told to wait. I finally was on the first immigrant ship out of England to Canada in January 1949. 

Andy and I were married in Calgary in April 1949. On my first trip to the mountains, we stopped at the top of Cochrane Hill and I saw Cochrane in the valley for the first time. I said, “We’re going to live there someday”. It took a few years as the next ten were spent at Lethbridge where Andy was a guard at the Provincial Gaol. Returning from our honeymoon there was a letter for Andy from the Governor General’s Office saying that Viscount Alexander was going to be in Lethbridge on the May long weekend to present various honors and awards. Andy was requested to attend. We couldn’t miss that so along with Andy’s parents we went. The ceremony was held in Gault Garden and was most impressive. 

It was a few years before we were able to build our home in Cochrane. We lived in a house on the Gaol grounds and had a family: Carolyn was born October 31, 1950, Neil on December 6, 1952, Jean on October 9, 1956, and Brian on May 6, 1958. 

In 1957/58 the Province had seen the need to build another Goal and Spy Hill was built on the outskirts of Calgary. Staff at the Lethbridge Gaol was given the opportunity to transfer to Calgary, and we decided to do that in August 1959. We lived in a house in Bowness while we built our Cochrane house. We purchased a large lot from Mr. Andy Sharpe, on the last street in Cochrane at that time called Baird Avenue, and moved in on September 3, 1960. 

It didn’t take long for us to get settled in this village of 800 people. Carolyn and Jean joined the C.G.I.T. at St. Andrew’s Church, Neil and Brian were Cubs, and the new swimming pool was very popular. There was always something to get involved in. I was also fortunate having family members come to Canada for visits and have made several trips back to England. In 1977 we had a leisurely holiday in B.C. with my parents, but on returning home Andy suddenly collapsed and was rushed to hospital. He was diagnosed with brain cancer. My parents had to leave in November. Andy was doing quite well up till then but soon after Christmas became bedridden. I was thankful to Dr. McQuitty for all his care during the next few weeks. Andy died at home on April 10, 1978. 

By this time the children were growing up. Carolyn was off to Weyburn, Saskatchewan, to do Psychiatric Nursing. After completing her schooling she returned to Alberta and worked at several places but always with Mental Health. She met and married David Molstad. For several years she was Director of Mental Health for North East Alberta. In 1998 she was appointed to the Alberta Mental Health Board and resigned two years later as she and David went into semi-retirement at their home on Vancouver Island and worked with their own Consulting Agency. 

Neil took a longer time to decide what he wanted to do but finally chose carpentry which he did at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. In 1979 he met Aileen Morrow, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Bill Morrow of Bearspaw, and they were married in 1980. They have always made their home in Cochrane. They have two children, Scott born October 14, 1982, and Lisa born June 12, 1986. Scott graduated from U of C this year with a BSc in Geomatic Engineering. Lisa works in Calgary and lives at home. Aileen is well known at the Cochrane Credit Union. Neil has been contracting to the Alberta Forestry for the past few years and will be leaving Cochrane in September for another job in Forestry at Peace River. 

Jean worked in the housekeeping department at U of C for several years. She married Allan Erickson in 1980 and they made their home in Cochrane. They had two children, Sarah born March 14, 1987 and Megan born September 8, 1989. The family moved to Sundre, Alberta in 1989 so that Allan could be closer to his work. They divorced in 1993. Jean and the children stayed in Sundre as she said it was just like the small town that Cochrane was when we first moved there. Jean met Bernard Noel and they were married in May 1998. They live on an acreage east of Sundre and Jean is employed at an Insurance Agency in Sundre. Sarah has now finished a year at Mount Royal College and in September 2007 will be attending University in Edmonton. Megan has one more year of school in Sundre but is already making plans for the future.

Brian’s first job after leaving school was with a sur- vey crew, and he became very involved in where this could lead with land development. He married Lynda Thomas in 1984 and they have made their home in Cochrane. They have two children, Michael born May 1, 1987 who will be attending U of A in September, and Caron born December 30, 1990. Caron has been dancing just about all her life. She started with Highland dancing when she was 4 years old and now at 15 is a Premiere Dancer attending many Competitions. Lynda has been working for the Bethany Care Centre for many years in different capacities. Brian has recently been notified that he has been awarded the Governor General’s Medal for his work for many years with the Scouts of Cochrane.

During my years in Cochrane, I have had the opportunity to have two businesses: The Old Timer Newspaper from 1975 to 1981, and The Fabric House in partnership with Kass Beynon from 1979 to 1989. I was on Cochrane Council for one term in the 1980s. I was involved with the Big Hill Seniors’ Activities Society as secretary for 15 years and I have also been on the Management Board of Big Hill Lodge since it was built in 1980 and am Chairman of that Board. I finally had to sell my home on Baird Ave. about 12 years ago and am content in my downtown condo where I sit and see Cochrane get bigger all the time.

Gordon Ivan Davies Family

pg 390 More Bill Hill Country 2009

The Gordon Ivan Davies family moved to Cochrane in 1962 from Mercury Camp, just two kilometers north of Longview, Alberta. At the time, Gordon and his wife, Mildred (nee Garbutt), had five children, with baby Teresa being just seven months old. 

Gordon was raised on a small ranch in the Porcupine Hills west of Claresholm, Alberta. His parents were Ivan Jennings Davies and Rachel Lillian Lepard. Ivan’s family moved to southern Alberta from Idaho Falls, Idaho in 1908, and Rachel’s from Frazee, Minnesota in 1910. 

Ivan and Rachel met in Claresholm and married in 1926. They had two boys, Gordon Ivan and Stewart William.

Mildred was raised on a farm a few miles east of Nanton, Alberta. Her parents, Harold Frederick Garbutt and Sarah Rebecca Lewis were both from Ontario. They married in 1924 and ventured out to the Wild West after their first son, Lewis, was born. They had four other children: Arletta, Donald, Phyllis, and Mildred Mae. Another son, Bruce, died in infancy. 

In 1946, the Davies family moved to a farm just south of Nanton and shortly thereafter, Gordon and Mildred met at a fateful community dance in Parkland. They were married in 1950. The next year, Gordon took a job at the Purity 99 refinery just north of Longview.

The bustling company community of Mercury Camp consisted of the employees of Purity 99 and their families 

During their years in Mercury Camp, Gordon and Mildred had five children: Theodore Gordon (1952), Leslie Dawn (1955), Ivan Blaine (1956), Arletta Lorraine (1959), and Teresa Darlene (1961). The refinery suffered a huge explosion and fire in 1953 and then closed down in 1961. As a result of the closure, Gordon took a job as an operator at the brand-new Wildcat Hills Petro-Fina gas and sulphur plant (now Petro Canada) ten miles west of Cochrane and moved his family to their new home in the summer of 1962 

The move, however, took place in stages. Gordon went up to Cochrane in December of 1961 to start his new job, and wee Ivan, at the tender age of five, made the trek north at the beginning of June to get a head start on his education, attending a couple of weeks of kindergarten Teddy and Leslie were attending school in Longview, SD Mildred waited out the school year and brought the rest of the clan up at the beginning of July. 

At the time, Cochrane had a population of about 800 people. The Davies moved into a small bungalow, just off Main Street, two houses north of what was then Graham’s Pharmacy. There were only two bedrooms for the family of seven – but they made do just fine with the three girls tucked into the second bedroom and the boys bunking out in the open basement. This small home later had several incarnations as different restaurants including a rib house, and Chinese and Mexican restaurants. It was an odd feeling for us to go sit at a table in our parents’ bedroom and order a meal! 

The days in Cochrane were punctuated by the town siren sounding daily at noon. On occasion, the emergency siren would also start wailing to announce a fine Dad, who was a volunteer firefighter for several years would drop everything and make a mad dash to the fine hall. Other regular sounds were the church bells pealing on Sundays, and frequent train whistles all day every day The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) Station stood by itself on the long strip of land between Main Street (now 1st Street) and the railroad tracks. Theo and Ivan remember anxiously hanging around the station platform waiting for the trains to come through and unload their mystery cargoes. In the first few years, we received our Sears parcels by train and the boys have fond memories of one truly exciting package – the green Woods tent that became the focal point of our annual family vacation in Mara Lake, British Columbia The anticipation of going camping in it was almost overwhelming! 

The sleepy little village with its graveled streets and open fields was an idyllic playground to grow up in Everyone knew everyone else, doors were never locked, neighbours dropped in unannounced for coffee, and we children roamed free – as long as the dishes and our other chores were done! 

We had great fun playing scrub baseball next to the railroad tracks for hours on end. Summer nights and weekends, one of the neighbourhood kids would run up the street calling out, “Scrub, scrub!” and the rest of us would grab our mitts, if we were lucky enough to have one, and pour out of our houses to race over to the field, jump the page wire fence, tag home base and call out “Batter 1! Batter 2! Catcher! Pitcher!” according to Our preference and order of arrival. These scrub baseball games may have been instrumental in Ivan’s not-so-illustrious performance in Minor Baseball League games played on the Banff-Canmore-Exshaw circuit! 

On our street, other summer sports included pick-up tackle football in the Milligan yard (site of the present Ducks on the Roof business complex), and long evenings of Hide and Seek, Ante Over, and Kick the Can. On sunny summer days, we would set off to go fishing in Big Hill Creek. To us, the creek seemed like a l-o-o-n-g way out of town, and there were times when Ivan and his buddies were known to hop the train and take it down as far as they could, so they could save a few footsteps. The stretch of the creek between Cochrane Ranche and where it joins the Bow River yielded many a tasty trout! 

The other place we could always be found was the aid outdoor swimming pool, which is now long gone and buried under the playground next to the outdoor skating rink at the bottom of Big Hill. We would sometimes spend entire days splashing and roughhousing in the undersized pool. In the early 1960s, the Cochrane Piranha Swim Club was born, with Keith Raby as the coach. We Davies children all took to the water like fish and spent several years swimming with the Piranhas and competing in summer swim meets around Alberta. Leslie, Arletta, and Teresa all went on to become lifeguards and swimming instructors, and Leslie coached the Cochrane Piranhas for a couple of summers. 

In the winter, we simply switched venues from the swimming pool to the skating rink next door to it! The winters were very cold and the snow banks were often piled higher than the boards around the rink. We all learned to skate by playing games like Crack the Whip, Pom Pom Pull Away, and British Bull Dog. An old one-room schoolhouse that had been moved to the west end of the rink was used as a change house. It had an old pot-bellied wood stove in it, and it was always a real treat when the stove was fired up! Later we started using the swimming pool building as a changing room. 


Then, as now, hockey was the be-all and end-all. In the early years, the boys used gunny sacks to carry up to the rink their prized hockey equipment, metal rod shin pads, newspaper for extra padding, and quart jar sealer rings to hold it all together! Ted and Ivan both played hockey from Tiny Mite to Midget, and the girls froze their behinds faithfully cheering them on all winter long. 

In addition to recreational skating and hockey, the boys also spent countless hours practicing for the Cub and Scout Ice Chuckwagon races. The Cochrane teams often brought home the coveted championship trophies from the Banff-Canmore-Exshaw circuit, and Ivan still remembers the excitement of getting to compete in the Calgary Stampede Corral. 

Big Hill Creek provided many a winter adventure, too! With our skates slung over our shoulders, we made the long trek down to the old Creamery on the site of what is now Cochrane Ranche. There, we would lace up and spend long hours ripping and roaring up and down the creek! 

Gordon’s lifelong love of horses was a core part of our family life. Given that we lived in town, we boarded the horses in a field in the east end of town, where the present-day Hill Lodge is situated, as well as uphill on the Copithorne farm, where the GlenEagles development is today. Many glorious days were spent riding the hillsides. It was particularly interesting to notice how the underground springs in the area would shift, popping up in different locations from one week to the next! 

Gordon’s dream was always to own his own land and run cattle and horses. With five children to support, however, this was difficult to do. But he always owned cattle, buying some of the first purebred Charolais cattle brought in from France. In the beginning, he pastured them out at the Dalton Gibson ranch at the end of Jamieson Road west of Cochrane; later on, he moved them to the twenty acres he purchased just west of Cochrane Lake. Although the family never lived on that piece of land, it still brings up bitter-sweet memories of endless days picking rocks and planting and digging potatoes, all the while struggling to stay upright in the relentless westerly winds! 

The family participated in many local riding events, especially the annual Beaupre gymkhana. Ivan remembers riding his first steer at the age of 14 at the Lions Club rodeo grounds. At that time, the grounds were located out at the “edge of town”, but now they are pretty much smack in the middle of town! Ivan continued his rodeo career with wild cow milking, wild horse racing, and many a team roping event with his father, Gordon. 

A great memory of early Cochrane is the phone system. No such thing as dial phones then – just the old wooden box phone with a crank handle! We had to ring the operator and ask for the number we wanted. Our number was 23 – Leslie still has her old figure skates with her name and phone number written inside. It’s funny to think of how, in the mid 1960s, the entire town was called to a meeting in the community hall to learn how to use the new dial phones that were to be connected on New Year’s Eve! 


Other fond memories of growing up in Cochrane: Fresh bread at the bakery (where the Telus building is now located) – five loaves for a dollar! 

Garden raiding on warm summer evenings and delicious sour crab apples, especially from R. E. Moore’s trees. 

Long hours lost browsing through the bookshelves of the community library in the basement of the town hall – hooray for Nancy Drew! 

Wash day Monday, with Mom elbow deep in the wringer washer, the laundry flapping in the breeze in summer and frozen stiff in winter. 

The Calgary Herald paper route being passed down through all the siblings, from Teddy to Teresa, over the course of several years! 

The excitement of roaming the aisles of Kerfoot and Downs Hardware store with Dad, trying to find some little thing for Mom for Mother’s Day. 

A family charge account at Graham’s Drugstore and Moore’s Foodmaster. 

The thrill of buying a new pair of jeans at Andison’s Dry Goods store. 

Piranha swim club 24 hour swimathons. 

Teen club walkathons to the edge of Calgary and back. 

Saturday allowance of 10 cents each, which bought us a chocolate bar or a bag of chips. 

Fries and gravy for 30 cents at the Range Grill, a big splurge at 10 cents a week! 

Roaming the Cochrane hillsides for early spring crocuses The “swinging tree” with the rope hanging over the creek for us to dare each other on. 

The fascination of television when it first came out, and Sunday evenings with the whole family watching Bonanza together on the black and white screen. 

Leslie and Arletta scooping ice cream at MacKay’s where the lineups were as long as or longer than now! 

Dad’s short stint as the town dog catcher. 

Graduation from Cochrane High School for all five kids

Where are we in 2008? 

Gordon worked as an operator and then as an instrument technician at the Petro-Fina gas plant. He made a dream reality when he and Mildred moved out of town to twenty acres situated just south of the ANG gas plant. In 1981, Petro-Fina was acquired by Petro- Canada, and Gordon took an early retirement a year later at age 55. Thereafter, he continued to enjoy working with his horses and helping out neighbours and friends with any and everything. Sadly, he passed away in 1988, a the young age of 61. He died doing what he loved, however, as he was outside working with his spring calves. 

Mildred continues to live on the acreage just outside of town that she and Gordon bought. After spending many years raising their five children, she took on developing some of her own hobbies and loves. She traveled far and wide, including to Africa and South America to visit Leslie while she was doing volunteer work on those continents. She also took up golf and oil painting, two creative endeavours that she enjoys immensely and does very well at. 

Theo got a diploma in Architectural Technology from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. After graduating, he set off to fulfill his dream of circumnavigating the world and spent two years backpacking his way from West to East. Shortly after his return he started up his own carpentry business that was in operation from 1978 to 1986. He married Eileen Prevost and they have two wonderful boys, Brenden Wyatt (1984), who has a certificate in Computer Aided Drafting from Bow Valley College, and Tyson Cory (1989), who plans a career in EMT/firefighting. When the boys were young, Theo took a job with Methanex in Kitimat British Columbia, where the family lived for 15 years. When Methanex closed down in 2007, they moved Cold Lake, AB, where Theo works with Encana.

Leslie graduated from the University of Calgary with a Bachelor of Education in English literature. She later went on to do two years of her Masters Degree in English. Leslie has taught high school for many years with the Calgary Catholic School District, which she enjoys immensely. Another love of hers, however, is volunteer service, and she has done over ten years of full-time volunteer work in Africa, India, and Latin America, as well as here at home in Canada. She is married to Robert John Paul Herrod and they live happily with their two cats in the quiet and neighbourly east end of Cochrane. 

After high school, Ivan spent some time testing gas wells and then traveling overseas. He also worked for numerous years in the guest ranch industry, as well as guiding hunting and fishing trips in the Northwest Territories and northern British Columbia. Later on, he settled into the ski business and owned his own ski shop in Calgary for fifteen years. Ivan has two lovely daughters, Mackenzie Dawn (1985) and Carla Mae (1988). Kenzi graduated from Olds College with a diploma in Land Management, and Carla is pursuing a career in nursing. Ivan continues to live in Cochrane and is presently serving as a Town Councillor. In addition to serving as chairperson of the Cochrane Labour Day Parade Committee for a number of years, he has been a volunteer with the Calgary Stampede Parade Committee for 20 years. 

Arletta married William (Bill) Cross of Nanton in 1981. Bill’s family owned the historic A7 Ranch, and Arletta enthusiastically joined Bill in working of the ranch. In 1986, the family ranch was divided, and Bill and Arletta continued ranching under the name of Cross Cattle Company Ltd. Along with ranching, Arletta has her own consulting business. They have three great boys: Malcolm Alexander (1985), who is a helicopter pilot; Devin Jennings (1987), who has a year of studies at the University of Calgary under his belt; and Austin James (1993), who is in grade 8. An infant girl, Amber E. Cross, was born in February 1991 and, sadly, passed away in May of that same year. 

Teresa married William (Bill) Ostlund of Calgary in 1995. They have three lovely children: Michaela Kathleen (1996), Liam Gordon (1998), and Paul William (2000). Teresa has a diploma in Business Administration from Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, and worked in the oil and gas industry for many years as an executive administrator in the corporate and land departments. A lifelong fitness fanatic, Teresa accomplished her dream of doing an Ironman triathlon race when she completed Ironman Canada in 2006. Teresa is devoted to her growing family. 

Deep Dive

Ray and Marilyn Whittle family

pg 805 More Big Hill Country 2009

Raymond Lundy Whittle was born on January 10, 1932, at the Holy Cross Hospital in Calgary. He was the second son of Frank and Kay Whittle and attended school in Cochrane. As there was no Grade 12 in Cochrane Ray attended Mount Royal College in Calgary. 

Family was always important to the Whittles and Frank’s brother and sister Eva and their families celebrated many Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations in Cochrane.  Many family picnics were enjoyed by all. 

After Ray graduated, he and his best friend Bill Beynon went to work at the Royal Bank in Cochrane. Mildred Camden was working there at the time and Ray recalls that she got Ray and Bill to carry her window boxes in every night and out each morning. 

Being in the banking business meant moving and Ray was transferred to Blackie and High Prairie. When he was told his next move would be Stettler he decided he had had enough banking and would go to University and become a Chartered Accountant. 

In 1956, Ray’s father died of a heart attack, so Ray and his brother Dave decided to take over the family business, Whittle Implements. Ray had two more years to complete his Commerce degree and because school was in session during the “down season” at the business he decided to complete his education. He was awarded the Hudson Bay Company’s Gold Medal in Commerce and offered a job with Hudson Bay Oil and Gas but he decided to come home and work with Dave. Ray has always loved animals, especially dogs, and enjoys having them in his life. As a child their pet dog was Trixie. Other animals in his life have been Cindy, a toy Pomeranian that lived for sixteen years; Button, a cockapoo cross that looked like a Schnauzer and lived to be fourteen; Tarley a Manx cat that lived to be twenty; and presently a pampered three-year-old cockapoo, Sandy. Even when Ray and Dave were in business together, dogs were welcomed into the shop. 

Ray has always been interested in sports. He curled and was treasurer of the Cochrane Curling Club for 30 years. A special memory was the year Brian Peverell, Harvey Hogarth, Jr., Jay Bowlen, and Ray won the Banff/Cochrane District and curled in the South Alberta Playdowns. He enjoyed golfing and also fishing in the Bow River with his father and Bob Hogarth, but particularly with his cousin Lloyd Peppard. As kids Ray and Dave played hockey and as adults played baseball with the Cochrane All Stars. Teammates were the Hogarths, Bill Beynon, Bob Beynon, Bill and Bruce Boothby, Roy Downs, Dave Morris and Ken Raby. 

Marilyn Viola Woods was born in the Holy Cross Hospital, Calgary on January 30, 1943 to George and Viola Woods. Her early childhood was spent in Calgary, their home being in West Hillhurst. She attended school at Bow View and Queen Elizabeth. The family attended Knox United Church and Marilyn helped in the Beginner Department Sunday School. She loved children and was willing to help with any small children. 

In 1955, George announced they were moving to Cochrane. It was exciting and terrifying but Marilyn settled in. She became active in C.G.I.T., Sunday School and singing in the Choir. She spent many happy hours with her friends Linda Hansen (Steeves), Sharon Phipps (Morton) and Dianne Klassen (Weekes). She remains a steadfast friend with Linda to this day. 

During her school years, Marilyn was active in the Students Union as secretary, the School Library and a member of the Yearbook Staff. 

Whittle Implements 1960

Marilyn graduated in 1961 and was married to Ray Whittle on October 21, 1961. Bill Beynon was Ray’s best man. Newt Gilbert was the Master of Ceremonies and Jack Macdonell (Marilyn’s teacher) gave the toast to the Bride. The United Church Women (UCW) served the reception in the brand-new Christian Education Building of St. Andrews United Church. 

Marilyn continued her volunteer work at the church, leading C.G.I.T., teaching Sunday School, singing in the Choir, helping cater to banquets, organizing the Turkey Supper, and helping with church teas. 

1964 was an exciting year when Ray and Marilyn built a new house. On application for a mortgage from CMHC, they were told that they couldn’t have a full mortgage since the house would never have any resale value in Cochrane. 

They were also blessed with their first child, a daughter, Lisa Lorraine. Lisa attended school in Cochrane until Grade 11 and then went to Camrose Lutheran College for Grade 12 and her first year of University. She graduated from the University of Alberta in 1986 with an Honors Degree in Psychology. In 1990, she married Kevin O’Leary. She has spent time working as an Interior Decorator with her friend Sabine. She lives in Calgary. 

In May 1970, Ray and Marilyn adopted a second daughter, Melanie May. She also attended Andrew Sibbald School, Manachaban and Cochrane High School graduating in 1988. Melanie attended Mount Royal College in Calgary, seeking a degree in Social Work, then changed to education and graduated with her degree in 1993.

In January 1993, Melanie married Rob Wilke, a golf course superintendent. His profession took them to Osoyoos, British Columbia. They had a daughter, Anna Quinn Wilke in September 1996. In 2000, Rob transferred to Terrace, British Columbia and Melanie was offered a job at the Terrace Public Library as Children’s Librarian. She loves the job and doubts that she would ever return to teaching. In 2005, Rob and Melanie separated. She is taking her Master’s Degree in Library Science from the University in Edinburgh, Scotland. She will graduate in 2007. 

In 1973, Ray’s friend Neil Harvie built a tennis court at his place and asked Ray if he liked to play tennis. They spent many happy hours on that court. Ray continues to play every summer at Clear Lake, Manitoba, and every winter indoors in Calgary. 

Also in 1973, International Harvester decided to close all the small dealerships around the country and maintain only large dealerships in big cities. Ray and Dave continued to run Whittle Implements for 5 years. but Ray had always wanted to spend more time with the insurance business so, in 1978, he bought the insurance business from Whittle Implements and moved into the new Cochrane Valley Shopping Centre. Over the years his secretaries included, Bonnie Peppard (his cousin), Yvonne Bowlen, Bernice Buckler Klotz and Chris Stecyk. Ray sold the business in 1996. 

In 1979, Marilyn took on the job of Church Secretary at St. Andrews United Church, when Rev. Doug Powell was the Minister there. She really enjoyed working in this capacity but also continued working as a volunteer in the Sunday School, UCW, Choir, etc. At this time she took a course mentored by Helen Stover Scott called Education for Ministry, from the University of South Sewanee, Tennessee, U.S.A. 

Ray was asked to work as the Church Treasurer and did the job for eight years. In 1984, they left St. Andrews and attended Symons Valley for two years and the Anglican Church for 15 years. They now enjoy St. Thomas United in Calgary. Their summer congregation is Minnedosa United, Manitoba. 

In 1980 her former teacher, Betty Lou Gilbert, gave Marilyn the gift of PEO. It became a wonderful part of her life. She assumed Chapter offices and in 1986 was elected to the Provincial Board as Treasurer. The theme for her convention in 1993 was “Joy”; indicative of the feelings she has for this group. She still is active in this Philanthropic Educational Organization. 


In 1982, Ray and Marilyn bought a cottage in Manitoba’s Riding Mountain National Park. Marilyn had spent every summer there as a child because her grandparents lived in Brandon, Manitoba. It has become a favorite place for all of the family. Ray and Marilyn spend five months there in the summer. Such a special place! 

In 2002, they sold the family home and bought a condo to accommodate this lifestyle. They return to Cochrane every winter.

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

David and Janette Whittle Family

Uncredited pg 802 More Big Hill Country 2009

David Arnold Whittle was born December 5, 1930 in Calgary, Alberta, first son of Frank and Kay Whittle. A brother Ray in 1932 and a sister Joan followed him in 1944. Dave attended elementary school in the old brick school on Main Street where Holy Spirit School is today. The school was next door to the Whittle home with lots of playground to use as well as an outdoor skating rink. Sport was always a large part of Dave’s life whether it was hockey, fastball, curling, or golf. 

Curling began in 1946 with early coaches William Beynon, Bob Hogarth, and Sid Reed. He played fastball, from 1947-1956 in the Bow Valley League. He played hockey for the Cochrane Senior Team, Mount Royal College, and the University of Alberta/Calgary Education Team. 

Dave finished grade 12 at Mount Royal College in 1948. He attended the University of Alberta/Calgary from 1949 to 1952 to earn a degree in Industrial Arts Education. 

Dave worked for his father’s business on weekends and during the summer months. After Sunday baseball games the players often went to Mr. Hart’s Drugstore for refreshments. This is where he met his future wife who was scooping ice cream and making great milkshakes. 

Whittle Implements 1960

Janette Elma Fenton, daughter of Elmer and Isobel Fenton from the Bottrel district, was born in November 1934. She had four brother’s Buster, Jim, John, and Allan, and two sisters Donna and Marlene. Janette attended a one-room school, Mount Hope, riding horseback for two and a half miles. Some winters, during the 1940s, the snowdrifts were so high that riding through was impossible. Roads were never plowed then so you waited for a thaw. 

Coming from a large family meant lots of time playing outdoors. An appreciation for nature developed at this time that has remained. 

Janette worked at Mr. Hart’s Drug Store, from 1951-1952. The Drug Store was on Cochrane’s main street where the highway went through to Banff. One Sunday, 2200 ice cream cones were sold at ten cents a scoop. Fellow clerks while there were Loretta Lee, Dorothy Perkins and Trixie Cassidy, who later worked for Cliff Irwin Drugs in Calgary.

Andison Block Plaque

Janette and Dave were married in October 1954 at Scarboro United Church in Calgary. They lived the first year in the upstairs suite at Bob Armstead’s (Dolly and Allister Moore) home. In 1955 they bought a two bedroom (Shell Oil) home from Dick Wetherell, which was only two years old. Its value then was $8800.00 and a twenty-year mortgage. A monthly payment of $65.00 was often a struggle. 

Dave’s centennial project for 1967 was to build a new living room in this home in order to create another bedroom. Most of this he did himself in his spare time and evenings. He also built a garage, tent trailer, and household furniture. They lived at this location, 112 1st Street East for forty-three years before moving to Cochrane Heights in 1998. 

Dave worked from 1953-1956 for Shell Oil at Jumping Pound Gas Plant in maintenance and operations. 

In 1956 when their father Frank passed away, Dave and brother Ray bought the family business from their mother and continued selling International farm machinery, trucks, fertilizer, insurance, coal, and delivered fuel to the rural community for the next twenty-two years. Coal was ordered from Drumheller and it came by forty-ton boxcar. It had to be unloaded in two days otherwise demurrage was charged. 

Once a year in the 1960’s Whittle Implements held an Appreciation Day. Town and rural customers were invited to a free pancake meal served by the dealer and his staff, Bob Grievson, Bob Thomas, Allan Hall, Carl Westerson. B.A Oil had changed to Gulf Oil when the business moved to larger premises at 365 Railway Street. The property was bought from Lambert Brothers. Whittle’s old property formed part of Cochrane Valley Shopping Centre. The machinery business closed in 1978 and all the rest was sold then. 

In 1979 Dave bought an upholstery business from Ken McNaughton  and worked out of the Railway Street building until retirement in 1998. 

Dave and Janette have two children Debra Ann, born October 1955 and Kevin David born December 1958. They attended school in Cochrane and presently live here in Cochrane. 

Debbie worked eleven years as a receptionist at the Cochrane Health Clinic. She presently works at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary. She married Mike Admussen in 1977 and they separated in 1988. They have two children Steven Lee and Angela May. Steven was born 1983 and graduated from University of Calgary in 2007 with his Bachelor of Commerce. Angela was born 1986 and graduated from Bow Valley High School in 2006. She is employed at Revolution Sport Supply in Calgary. 

Kevin graduated from Cochrane High School in 1977. He worked for Esso from 1981 to 2004. He is presently working for Wenstrom Equipment in Langdon, Alberta. He has been a member of Rocky Mountain Big Wheels and has altered many vehicles mechanically as a hobby. 

Dave and Janette celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary, on October 4, 2004. In their retirement, they like to spend time in the country, at a two-room cabin that they remodeled in the 1980s. They hike, bird watch, and do photography. 

Janette has always enjoyed arts and crafts and painting. She has been a Cochrane Art Club member since 1970 and recently joined the Foothills Art Club as well. She continues to enjoy working in watercolor and pastel and has been honored with the Heritage Award several times. 

Dave is a long-time member of the Cochrane Golf Club and plays several times a week through the season. He remains passionate about the game. Several times he has been Senior Golf Champion. 

In 2000, the Whittles and their descendants celebrated being in the area 100 years.

Deep Dive

Frank and Kathleen Whittle Family

pg 803 More Big Hill Country 2009 Author uncredited

Frank Whittle was a native Albertan, born November 15, 1903, and was raised and spent his whole life here in the Cochrane area. Son of Earle and Letha Whittle of the Horse Creek District, he had a younger brother and sister, Fred and Eva. Two other children died at an early age. Frank was home schooled until he was eight years old when the Chapelton (Horse Creek) School was built in the district. He left school after grade eight to work on the family farm. 

About the time Frank was old enough to drive, the family bought a Model T car, but it didn’t replace a good saddle horse. Road building and repair was often done by local farmers, Frank being no exception. Some people paid their taxes by working on the roads. Frank enjoyed fishing and game bird hunting. Shearing sheep for themselves and the neighbours was one of his accomplishments. 

Road Crew

In winter months, Frank worked for John Boothby baling hay from stacks in the field and hauling it to customers. This involved long hours of heavy work. 

About 1926, Frank suffered a serious illness, a ruptured appendix that sent him to hospital. It was the cause of future bouts of sickness that plagued him in later years. While recovering from his illness Frank met his future wife, Kay Lundy, the new schoolteacher at Weedon School. 

Kay was born in Innisfail Alberta, on December 30, 1902. Her family moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, and later to Sicamous, British Columbia as her father worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway as a lineman. This job involved numerous moves, which interrupted the children’s education. They were five years in North Bend and Kay spent her high school years in Enderby, British Columbia while staying with her grandparents. Her mother got tired of moving so Penticton, British Columbia was their final destination and where Kay finished high school. A job in a telephone office for a year enabled her to attend Normal School in Victoria, British Columbia, to become a teacher. 

Kay’s first job posting was at Valdez Island. She next taught at a Girl’s School in Vancouver, British Columbia. Along with a girlfriend Kay,  took a bold step and accepted a school in Alberta at a place north of Cochrane, Alberta called Weedon School. Here she rode a horse to school each day teaching grades one to nine in one room. After two years at Weedon, Kay transferred to Water Valley. Many years later Weedon School was moved to Heritage Park in Calgary as a historic building. 

Kay met Frank while going to dances in the area of Cochrane, Alberta. He had bought a 1926 Chevrolet Touring Car, to replace the horse, as a courting vehicle. 

The couple was married in 1929 in Kay’s family hometown of Penticton, British Columbia. Upon returning to Cochrane they took residence in a rented house which still stands today, 2008, below the hill north of highway 1A. 

Their first child, a son David was born in December 1930 with a brother Ray following in 1932. During this time they bought a partially finished house west of Cochrane’s original brick school. Some ten years after the boys were born a baby girl entered their lives. Joan became the center of attention for the Whittle family. The family lived in this home for many years, in fact until the children had grown up. It was next door to the school and its playground, the outdoor skating rink, the tennis courts, and the Church and close to downtown.

During the 1930s Frank and John Boothby formed a business partnership baling hay and hauling the hay and mine props to Drumheller. They brought back domestic coal for sale, starting a business that lasted until natural gas and propane came to the Cochrane area. 

By 1949, Frank had acquired the International Harvester Machinery and Truck Dealership and the B.A. Oil Sales from Robert Young. An insurance agency was also added This business was originally located next to the feed mill. North of the Cochrane Hotel. The building was later moved to a site on First Avenue across from Murray’s Blacksmith Shop. It was enlarged and a service shop was built on the back in about 1950. 

Frank served on the School Board and St. Andrew’s United Church Board. He was a Mason and Kay belonged to the Eastern Star. 

Winter social events included a six-couple bridge club meeting at everyone’s home once each season. There were always picnics in the summer and Sunday trips to the Family Farm in Horse Creek.

Whittle Implements 1960

Tragedy struck the family in 1956 when Frank died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of fifty-two years. 

The two boys, Dave and Ray, took over his business. Kay later moved to Calgary with daughter Joan and lived there in her own home until she was well into her nineties. Kay passed away in 2001. 

Dave and Ray were schooled in Cochrane and each spent a year at Mount Royal College to finish High School. Joan did much the same, going on to study art at the College of Art in Calgary in 1959. Upon graduating in Commercial Art she worked for Eaton’s Store in Calgary before she married Steve Fedoroshyn in 1964. Joan switched to Fine Arts while raising two boys. She is a member of the Alberta Society of Artists and the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Color and continues to teach painting. She is a grandmother to four boys. 

Deep Dive

James and Helen Begg Family

by their grandaughter Helen Warner pg 355 Big Hill Country 1977

James Begg and Helen Neil were married in Ayr, Scotland, in 1904. In 1911, Jim and Helen (Nellie) and their young son Matt, decided to leave their grocery business in Ayr and move to Canada to join their friend, Jack Connell on a farm near Claresholm, Alberta. 

In 1912 their second son, Neil, was born in Claresholm. Their son Hamish was born in Carmangay, Alberta, in 1916. Two years later, Jack Connell and the Beggs moved to work on a cattle ranch in the Cyprus Hills. There they prospered, but tragedy struck during a bad flu epidemic after the First World War, when young Matt was stricken with the flu and died in the Dunmore hospital in 1919, at the age of twelve. 

Neil started school in Medicine Hat, while his parents were working on the 76 Ranch near the city. In 1921 Jim and Nellie and their sons moved to Cochrane. Jack Connell bought the Glenfinnan Ranch west of Cochrane from D. P. McDonald; he and Jim worked together there, raising sheep, cattle, and horses. In 1922, the Begg family moved to Cochrane and lived in the “Dad” Johnson house. Hamish started school in Cochrane. A year later, Jim and Nellie and the boys moved to Dunmore, where Jim worked for the C.P.R. In 1925 they moved back to Cochrane, to work at the Rhodes Ranch in Grand Valley. Neil and Hamish went to Chapelton School, and then, when it was opened, to the Grand Valley School. 

In 1927 the family moved to Calgary, and Jim worked for the C.P.R. and later for the city. He and Nellie spent the rest of their busy lives in Calgary. The boys finished their schooling in Calgary. 

Neil worked at odd jobs around Calgary after finishing school. He managed the Hudson Bay store in Banff when it was first opened. He married Adele Templeton of Calgary in 1940. During the Second World War, he served in the Navy. Following the War, he bought a tire shop on the Hope-Princeton Highway in British Columbia. He later sold it and worked for Nestles Products Ltd., until he retired in 1972. 

Hamish worked for Andy Garson in Cochrane after completing his schooling. He also worked for Frank Murray in Claresholm, at the Fuller Brush Warehouse in Calgary, at the Rex Kendrew sawmill and the Mud Lake sawmill, both west of Cochrane, and at Little Yoho National Park, where he helped to build the Alpine Chalet. He married Amy Nagy of Cochrane, and they bought the Glenfinnan Ranch from Jack Connell and Raymond Patterson, a well-known author of many good books. Hamish and Amy lived there until 1969, when they sold their ranch to the Department of Indian Affairs, Government of Canada; the land is now part of the Morley Indian Reserve. They are still living in the Cochrane district. They had four children, Jim, Helen, Donald, and Beverly. Jim works in the construction industry in Calgary. He and his wife have a son and a daughter. Helen married Mark Warner; they farm north of Cochrane and have two sons and two daughters. Donald owns and operates a bronze foundry in Cochrane. He married Shirley Stevens of Calgary, and they have a daughter. Beverly is married and lives in Kamloops, British Columbia. 

Deep Dive

Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Nagy

by their granddaughter, Helen Warner pg 253 Big Hill Country 1977

Andrew Nagy came to Canada from Hungary in the early 1900s. He filed on a homestead near St. Brieux, Saskatchewan. St. Brieux is about fifty miles north of Humboldt in an area dotted with small lakes. The early homesteaders there had their work cut out for them clearing land before breaking it up for cropping. 

He married Suzanna Miko in 1913. Suzanna had also come to Canada from Hungary, immigrating with her parents as a young girl around 1900. 

A few years after they were were married, tragedy struck the Nagy family during a diphtheria epidemic, when their oldest son and oldest daughter died from the dread disease. Mr. and Mrs. Nagy felt that they needed a fresh start, so the homestead was sold and the family moved to Alberta. They lived in Lethbridge and Ft. Macleod before coming to Cochrane in the late 1920s with their five children, Amy, Vera, Mike, Mary, and Andy. They lived on a farm north of Cochrane, and the three older children went to Cochrane Lakes School. Later, the Nagys moved to Cochrane. Three more children were born, Helen, Elizabeth, and David. 


Nagy Home North of Hwy 1A

Mr. Nagy worked for John Boothby, Calgary Power Company, and at the Exshaw Cement Plant. He died in 1948. 

Mrs. Nagy lives in Cochrane and is a very active member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, the Canadian Legion, and the Booster Club. She thoroughly enjoys getting about and visiting her family, two of whom live in the Cochrane area. Amy married Hamish Begg, and Elizabeth married Robert Stone of Dog Pound. The other members of the Nagy family live in Calgary and various parts of British Columbia. 

In 1965, Mrs. Nagy returned to Hungary for a visit but unfortunately found it very difficult to contact many of her or her husband’s relations. Sixty years of absence from her homeland, which has been ravaged by war and revolution, meant that things did not seem quite the same as they had in the old days.

Deep Dive

Medical Problems of Early Settlers in Cochrane Area

an article from the CHAPS Archives

The first settlers came into the Cochrane area in the late 1880s and continued to arrive over the next twenty or thirty years. Medical theory and practise has changed a lot of course, from that time to the present. It is interesting to look back and read the stories of those people, our very own parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, and try to imagine ourselves in the same medical situations and how we would react. 

In those days … 

* The germ theory of disease, that infections are caused by bacteria and viruses, had only recently been accepted and taught to medical students and nurses. It was also very difficult for a doctor in a place like Cochrane to keep up with any new discoveries.

* Anaesthetics such as nitrous oxide, chloroform, and ether had just been discovered and were not available in the hinterlands. 

* Abdominal surgery of any kind was uncommon except in larger cities. For instance, the first appendectomy was performed in Europe in 1900. 

*There was no effective treatment at all in those days for communicable diseases, pneumonia, ear infections, mastoiditis, vomiting, and diarrhea, “blood poisoning” 

* All common killers of both children and adults. 

* Babies were by necessity usually born at home often far from civilization. Mothers and babies are often fed in childbirth done in the “natural” way without the help of trained midwives or doctors; Hemorrhage would be the commonest cause of easy delivery. Untreated toxemia could cause the death of either mother or baby or both. Sometimes the labour would on over many days without success and the baby or mother or both would die at that time or possibly a week or so later from puerperal infection. 


Mitford Mining Camp

Mitford Days 

Tom and Lady Adela Cochrane built the town of Mitford in the early 1880s. In 1888, they convinced a young Dr. Hayden to come over from England to set up a practice and run a drugstore in the town. One of Tom Cochrane’s first projects was a sawmill. He built a railway over Horse Creek and over to Grand Valley to bring the logs down to the mill. Unfortunately, the steam engine was forever running off the track. On one occasion, the brakeman was found under the engine with severe head injuries. Dr. Hayden transported him back to town by wagon and he eventually recovered. Two weeks later, the engine was returning to the sawmill pulling four trucks of logs when it left the rails again pinning the engineer and breaking two bones in his leg. Treatment of accidental injury would be a big part of medical practice in those days. Dr. Hayden left in 1891 but the drugstore remained open. Many home remedies would be sold there so people could use treatments handed down from grandmothers of past generations. 

Davies home-hospital

A few stories survive illustrating other problems people faced before the turn of the century. 

Atkins Family 

In 1895, Harry Atkins brought a new bride to his homestead near where Cremona is now situated. His wife successfully gave birth to two daughters but in 1901, a son was born and the mother died either during the delivery or shortly after, leaving him with two young children and a newborn baby. The next year, tragedy struck again as the oldest girl died of pneumonia at age six. 

John McNeil Family

 His wife and three children arrived in Mitford in 1886. They had three more children there. She was in late pregnancy with her seventh when she got the news that while her oldest boy was away getting supplies, his team of horses ran away and dragged him to death. Mrs. McNeil went into labour a few hours later and died while giving birth. The next spring, the Bow flooded their Mitford home and the children had to climb to the roof before being rescued. The baby boy died soon after. The four girls were put in a convent in Calgary and the son Joseph went to live in Cochrane. The next winter, Joseph died of appendicitis. His father John helped dig his grave in Cochrane, developed pneumonia, and died three days later in the hotel in Cochrane. It is not often that so many tragedies as this would happen to one family but it does illustrate the dangers faced by pioneers. 

Dr. Harbottle

 In 1907, late in his life came from Ontario with a grown son and daughter. They all homesteaded in the district. He never opened a practice but he was often called by his neighbours in times of illness. He helped Mrs. Oldaker through a bout of erysipelas, a serious very painful skin infection that lasts a long time. In those days, the treatment was likely to rest, heat, elevation, and relief of pain and hope for the best. The old doctor was found by neighbours one day, he had died alone in his homestead home. One of the problems in those days was that many bachelor homesteaders lived alone far from neighbours. It was not uncommon for them to be found dead days or weeks after a serious accident or illness because they had no way of calling for help.


 Doctors came and went but the ladies that helped deliver the annual crop of babies were the most valued and valuable medical service in the district in those days. Many of them had nursing training but some had learned what to do from their mothers or grandmothers. Most mothers of necessity had their babies in their own homes far from their neighbours. The brave nurse-midwives would be out all times of the day and night in all kinds of weather sometimes leaving their own families to fend for themselves as they sat through long labour or nursed someone through a serious illness. They charged no fee as they knew the time would come when they might need a neighbour’s help themselves. 

The names of some of these ladies keep cropping up in the stories told by old-timers; Mrs. Hugh Robinson, Mrs. Oliver Mickle, Mrs. Jimmy Patterson, Louise Tempany, Mary Hughes, Mrs. Boucher, Mrs. Lancons, Mrs. Urquhart, Granny Hogarth, Mrs. Anderson, Mrs. Dawson, Lura Gano, Maud Lewis, Hilda Beard, Nancy (Harbidge) Boothby, Nurse Roberts. Others took in maternity and other patients in nursing homes or their own homes in Cochrane and they are mentioned elsewhere. 

Dr. Andrew Park

 First resident physician in the town of Cochrane. He graduated in 1904 and came immediately to Cochrane to set up practice. He was unmarried and lived in the hotel at first. His office was upstairs in the Fisher Block. There were no cars and no roads so he rode horseback on his rounds to patients in the large area he served. 

In those days, most patients were treated in their homes and the doctor made his rounds from home to home as often as necessary carrying his surgical instruments and medications with him, If they were so sick they couldn’t look after themselves, there was usually some neighbour who could help. In 1906, he married a teacher from his hometown in Ontario and they set up housekeeping in Cochrane. At this time he bought a horse and buggy to do his rounds. He later bought one of the first cars in Cochrane. In 1915 Dr. Park left Cochrane to serve in the armed forces during World War 1. 

A few stories told by his patients highlight problems faced in that era.

 Hank Bradley; in 1913 at the age of six years had one of his fingers chopped off by a man cutting a soup bone off a shank of frozen beef with an axe. The boy was holding the beef so it wouldn’t slip at the time. The man who wielded the axe soaked the wound in saltwater and wrapped it in a towel while he went and caught and harnessed a team of horses. Then he had to go to a neighbour to borrow a democrat before he could take the boy to the doctor. The doctor had to tie him down to work on his finger. 

John and Lucy Morgan homesteaded in the Bottrel area. Lucy went into labour on November 24, 1908, during an early winter blizzard and a temp of -20F. They sent their 13-year-old son by horse and sleigh to fetch Mrs. Dawson, the midwife, who lived seven miles away. She gathered up her equipment and back they went through the cold and driving snow. It was a complicated labour so Dr. Park was called from Cochrane. He hitched up his horse and cutter and arrived sometime later. Luckily the brave mother was finally presented with a healthy baby. Because Lucy was confined to bed for a day or two, Mrs. Pogue came and stayed with her until she was well enough to look after her family. The next year, Mrs. Pogue had a baby at home so she sent her two children over for Lucy to look after while she too recovered from her labour. A Neighbour helping neighbour allowed people to survive. 

Lou Shands was hauling firewood in the bush in 1905 when his team ran away. He was thrown off and broke his leg badly. He was hauled to his home on a stone boat and someone rode into town to get Dr. Park. By the time the doctor arrived many hours after the injury, the leg was so swollen that after it was set the cast would not hold it properly. He was eventually left with a marked limp. In 1945, Lou took seriously ill on his farm right after a blizzard had closed all the roads. This time a more modern ambulance, an airplane, took him to a hospital in Calgary. Such a change in one man’s lifetime. 

Edith McKinnell and her husband John homesteaded in the Bottrel area after arriving from Scotland. Edith had been brought up in a rich family with servants to do all the work. It was quite a culture shock to come to an area where only the very basics of life were to be had and where she spent months without seeing another woman. All five of her children were born in her home without medical help with only her husband to assist. Sadly, the first baby died at birth but luckily the rest survived and thrived. 

Elizabeth Winchell and her husband Frank homesteaded near Water Valley. Two of her babies died at birth at home but one son survived. 

Dr. Thomas Ritchie 

Dr. Ritchie arrived in the Cochrane district in 1904 with a wife and family of eight children. He had been practicing for a long time in Virginia USA and it appeared he had done well financially and moved here to invest and farm rather than continue doctoring. He bought a small ranch near Mitford that is now part of the Morley reserve. He also purchased land at the mouth of Jumping Pound Creek. There he ripened and sold the first wheat ever shipped from west of Calgary. Of course, he couldn’t refuse to treat people if they needed help when Dr. Park was away. In the fall of 1919, his car overturned in the ditch during a snowstorm and he died from his injuries three days later. 

Some stories survive that involve this doctor. 

Dave Bryant was six years old when he fell off a horse and broke his arm. He was taken to Cochrane but the doctor was away so they took him to Dr. Ritchie’s ranch. There the doctor with the help of his son was able to set the bones. No anesthetic was used. Alcohol, morphine and cocaine were about the only means of relieving pain that doctors had in those days. A child of six could be held down by a strong man while the bones were reduced. This seems cruel but it had to be done so there was no alternative in this case. 

William Tempany froze both feet hauling hay in the winter of 1906. Dr. Ritchie was sent for and came from his home on the ranch to do what he could for him. Part of one foot had to be amputated later. 

Anne Steel was knocked down by a horse and broke her leg. Dr. Ritchie came to their farm by horse and buggy to set it. For a cast, they wound strips of bedsheets soaked in hot starch solution around the leg. As it cooled and dried, it hardened enough to do the job. 

Communicable Diseases spread unchecked because of the lack of immunization and few medications that were effective. 

Smallpox still occurred although vaccination had been available for many years. In 1908, an epidemic occurred in Cochrane. Tents were erected down by the river and anyone with smallpox was sent there. Guards were stationed on the roads and at the railway station to prevent anyone from entering or leaving the town for any reason. These guards carried rifles and enforced the quarantine to the letter. Rev. Sale, the priest at All Saints Anglican Church at that time, rode into town on horseback to visit a parishioner without knowing about the quarantine. When he was challenged, he ignored the order to stop. He stopped in a hurry when a shot was fired over his head. When no more cases occurred, every resident had to take a bath in an approved disinfectant before the town was declared safe and the school could reopen. 

Scarlet Fever was a serious disease in those days before penicillin. Many adults and children died from its effects and many developed rheumatic fever, kidney problems, and chronic ear infections as complications from the disease if they survived. In 1910, it was prevalent in the district. Jack Dowson and his niece Lily Johnson died from it. 

Diphtheria took the lives of many children. They would suffocate because a membrane would sometimes form over the breathing passages, or the toxins from the disease would affect the heart, kidneys, or nerves. In 1898, the Scotty Craig family was infected and the oldest son died at age 10. Andrew and Suzanna Nagy lost two of their oldest children to the disease in 1915. In 1924, Elizabeth Phillips (nee Skinner) in the Lochend area, died from diphtheria leaving her husband with three young children to raise. It was not until the 1930’s that a vaccine was available although an antitoxin was available prior to that. Antibiotics, of course, were not discovered until the 1940s. 

Typhoid fever was also present in the district because wells could be contaminated by poor hygienic practices and there were always carriers of the disease in those days. In 1882, Elizabeth Sibbald died from typhoid, and in 1907 Thurman and Elizabeth Ault lost a son from the disease. In 1911 John Boothby was treated for typhoid fever in the relatively new Davies-Beynon hospital by Dr. Park. In 1917, two of Mrs. Davies’s granddaughters died of typhoid fever. The disease is now controlled by strict public health measures regarding water supply and sewer systems. 

Measles, mumps, chickenpox, whooping cough, and rubella went around every few years and in those days every child would catch most of them over their childhood years. It was not until the 1940s that the whooping cough vaccine was used and in the 1960s the measles, mumps rubella vaccine was available. The Chickenpox vaccine didn’t come along until about 1995. It was rare for one to die from these common diseases but serious complications sometimes occurred. 

Child Mortality 

One of the saddest parts of pioneer life was the large number of infants and children that never reached the teen years. Besides the babies that died at birth, there were many that succumbed to complications of communicable diseases, infections of all kinds, and vomiting and diarrhea possibly due to lack of a safe water supply. Lack of availability of medical and nursing care would be a factor as well. 

Mr. and Mrs. Andy Clarke opened a butcher shop in Cochrane in 1914. Out of their nine children, two died in infancy. No diagnosis is given. 

James Hewitt Family homesteaded near Cochrane and later ran a pool hall and barbershop in the town. Out of their family of thirteen, three died in infancy. 

James Quigley Family raised a family on land in the east part of present-day Cochrane. Out of nine children, two died in infancy. 

Since there was no cemetery at that time, the Hewitt and Quigley children were all buried on the Quigley farm. When the new cemetery opened, they were all disinterred and moved there. 

Rev. David Reid in 1932 came to the United Church in Cochrane. While living here in the manse, they lost their youngest daughter. As usual, no diagnosis was given. 

Bert and Lizzie Sibbald had five children. They lost a daughter at age twelve in 1930. 

Samuel and May Spicer lost their first child in 1911 to some unknown disease at the age of eighteen months.

Clem and Peggy Edge lost their daughter Margaret at 18 months of age from a “heart seizure”. 

Charles Harbidge, out of six children born in the Cochrane area after 1905, one daughter died at age eight and one son at age thirteen. 

Mel and Christine Weatherhead had a new son born about 1909. While Christine was upstairs looking after the baby, her two-year-old son downstairs had a convulsion of some sort and died. Christine, being postpartum, became severely depressed and blamed herself for the tragedy. 

Earl and Letha Whittle had a family of four children in 1912. Six-year-old Gladys suddenly died of pneumonia that year, and two months later ten-year-old Claude died of a “heart condition” 

Robert and Edith Beynon had three children. One died in infancy and another at the age of two. Only one son survived. This was around 1930 in the town of Cochrane 

Maternity, Nursing Homes, and Hospitals 

Mrs. Richard “Dickie” Smith (Amy) Her husband died in 1902 on the ranch which later became known as the Virginia Ranch in the Dogpound area. Amy went back to England with her three children to study to be a midwife as she could see the need in this area. In 1903 she set up a nursing home in Cochrane in a log building set back from the street about where the back of the Grahams Building sits now. Mrs. Smith’s nursing home closed after she remarried in 1905. The house later became the Yee Lee laundry. 

Mrs. Jack Boldack Used her house as a maternity home and nursing home for several years in the early 1900s. She was a midwife herself but the doctor would sometimes be called to help. 

The Davies Hospital 

By 1910 Dr. Park needed space for patients that required hospital care. The Thomas Davies family was building a townhouse in Cochrane and they were persuaded to build it a little larger so part of it could be used for hospital patients. It seemed a good fit since Margaret Davies lived there and could preside over it and her daughter, Annie Beynon, had nursing training and could handle that end of the business. This hospital served Cochrane from 1910 to 1915, when it was closed because Dr. Park had left for war service and Mrs. Davies was in poor health. 

“Quigley House” Hospital 

The house at 402 Carolina Drive became a nursing home after Dr. Park left. May Coatsworth was head nurse and Mrs. Campbell Roberts was the administrator. Both were well-trained midwives. The dates of the operation of the hospital are uncertain but in 1917, May married Angus McDonald and left. After her marriage, May continued to act as a midwife and do a lot of home nursing in the district as far north at Bottrel. 

Mrs. E.C. “Dad” Johnson 

The 1918 influenza pandemic hit Cochrane hard. There was no hospital or doctor at that time. Mrs. Johnson was an R.N. so she turned her home into a hospital for the worst cases. It was still in use as a maternity and nursing home as late as 1925. Mrs. “Jappy” Rodgers and Bernice Linfoot both had babies there within hours of each other in 1922 and John Claude Copithorne was born there in 1925 with Dr. Waite in attendance. 

Dr. William Saunders 

In 1905, he came out with his father, mother and even siblings to homestead in the area near the junction of Lochend Road and Highway 567. In 1913, he proved up a quarter section of his own in that area. He studied medicine and graduated in time to assist Dr. Waite in his practice for a short time. He lived on his homestead so he was too far away to be of much help and moved to Calgary shortly after to open a practice. 

Dr. Waite 

Since Dr. Park had decided to move to Calgary after the war, Dr. Waite and his new bride Mona arrived in Cochrane in the fall of 1919. Mona was a nurse so she turned part of their first home into a nursing home and took in patients and delivered babies there. In 1923, they bought the drug store from Mr. Smythe and renovated it to include living quarters. They lived there the remainder of their time in Cochrane. Mrs. Waite did mot take in patients any more but helped in the drug store and assisted the doctor on his rounds. Dr. Waite was a busy man in the fifteen years he lived here. He died in 1934. Cause of death is not known but he couldn’t have been much older than forty years. After his death, the drug store was sold to Mr. Hart. 

A few stories remain of medical problems that Dr. Waite faced in those days. 

Ted Cook just before Christmas 1919 was shooting partridges with a double-barrel shotgun. He killed three with the first shot but a wounded one tried to flutter away. Forgetting that he had cocked both barrels, he used the butt of the gun to knock the bird down causing the hammer to be released on the loaded barrel shooting him in the hip. 

It took several neighbours to get the doctor out through the deep snow and transport Mr. Cook into the nursing home in Cochrane where he spent the winter recuperating. 

Louis Garlin was a widower batching on his homestead and came down with pneumonia. Dr. Waite had been out to see him several times and a nurse helped him during the day. Paul Swanson and Arthur Wells were to sit with him one night as the doctor didn’t think he would live long. The men shaved him and cut his hair so he wouldn’t go to heaven unshaven and unshorn. Dr. Waite had given them a bottle of brandy and they were to give him an ounce every four hours to help him on his way. Instead of an ounce of brandy, they decided to give him two and a half ounces. At about 4 am. Louis began to sing. He eventually recovered and lived to be 90 years of age. He always believed that the brandy had saved his life. It was probably as good a treatment as any they had in those days. 

Jack Reid fell and broke his leg one day when he was a teenager. He saddled his horse and rode out to the field to tell his dad. This required him to get off and on the horse several times to open gates and close them. His father didn’t think there was much wrong so he rode home to tell his mother, opening and closing gates as before. By the time he got home, there was no doubt that it was fractured. Dr. Waite was in the district on another case so he came and treated it. 

Ed “Boney” Thompson, while riding a bucking horse in the summer of 1921 he fractured his pelvis with complications of a punctured bladder and other internal injuries. He was up along the Little Red Deer River eighteen miles from the nearest phone and much further from the closest medical help in Cochrane. Laurie Johnson rode to the Mount Royal ranch and phoned Cochrane to send the doctor out. Dr. Waite arrived in his Model T with his tools and instruments but the road went no further. For the next eighteen miles, the doctor had to ride a horse. He was able to give Boney enough narcotics that they could move him into a wagon and survive the rough ride down to the ranch. Another car took him directly into the hospital in Calgary as they knew he would require surgery. Sadly, he died soon after at the age of forty-eight. 

Mrs. Tom Zuccolo went into labour on their ranch southwest of Bottrel on a cold January 8 morning at 2 a.m. A 14 mile trip over snow-covered roads with a team and sleigh got her to Mrs. Johnson’s nursing home in time for Dr. Waite to deliver a healthy little girl. 

Gordon Moore son of Alex Moore was watching one of the earliest cars in town go by. He thought he would catch a free ride by grabbing a door handle. He got a ride alright but also dislocated his elbow. Dr. Waite was able to reduce it and he got a good result from a serious injury. 

Jimmy Patterson was sixteen years old when he got scarlet fever. He got complications, infected mastoids and pneumonia and was near death in Cochrane where he had been ill for many weeks. With no X-rays to guide him, Dr. Waite decided to drain the infected fluid from the lung. His diagnosis was correct, the surgery was successful, and the boy recovered. The ear and mastoid infection caused him to become deaf, however. 


Andison Block Plaque

Dr. Rivers was a friend of Mr. Hedley Hart who had purchased the drug store from Mrs. Waite after her husband died in 1934. The country was in the midst of the depression, Cochrane had no doctor and the druggist somehow convinced Dr. and Mrs. Rivers to come to live here and help out for a time. They lived in the big brick house at the corner of Pope and First street E. His office was in the house but he treated patients and delivered babies in their homes as there was no hospital. Dr. Rivers would be the last resident doctor in Cochrane until what we consider “modern” times. 

Bob and Alice Graham bought the Hart drugstore and ice cream business in the mid-1950s. This store, and the brand new big store which they built later, became by default the centre of medical care in the town a: there was nothing else. Bob as a pharmacist and Alice as an R.N. could not refuse to give first aid and advice to their friends and neighbours when asked. Alice was often called out to emergencies as well. The Calgary doctors also might ask her to check blood pressure, give injections, remove sutures, or change dressings for the local patients. The Grahams did this gratis for many years. During this time, Dr. Milne and Dr. Prowse would come out occasionally to help out when necessary but there was no resident doctor. 


This takes us up to about 1960. By now, antibiotics were in general use, mothers had their babies in hospitals, hospitals had X-rays and laboratory tests to properly diagnose disease and injury, and children were protected from most communicable diseases by immunization. Better roads and cars were allowing people to access medical care from their distant farms and ranches. Cochrane and district now entered the modem medical age and the many different but still serious medical problems that we now face.

Grahams Pharmacy. Alice and Bob

Deep Dive

Cochrane Advocate August 1921 – 1927


August 25 

Six cars of cattle have been shipped this week from Cochrane to Montreal for export to Great Britain. D.P. McDonald shipped one car, J. McLeroy three cars and W. H. Wilderman of Priddis, two cars. This was all good quality beef, averaging around 1400 lbs. 


August 1 

The Saskatoons are seemingly a good crop this year. Some of our citizens claim to have picked twenty pounds or more. 

August 8 

Our Campers during the hot wave of last week took to the water. Report has it, several mermaids were seen floating on the Jumping Pound. 

August 29 

Clever Exam Answers 

Pupils of Public and High Schools are unusually clever about examination time, and now that the results of the midsummer tests have been published, it will be quite safe to make known a few bright answers discovered by the eagle-eyed examiners. For safety’s sake, the name of the school or student is not mentioned. 

“A mountain range is a large cook stove” 

“Sixty gallons makes one hedgehog❞

“Typhoid is prevented by fascination”

“Epidermis is what keeps your skin on” 

“A volcano throws out hot saliva” 

“The days are shorter in winter because cold contracts” 

“A curve is a straight line that has been bent” 

“A triangle is a three-cornered circle” 

“A vacuum is an empty space with nothing in it” 

“A circle is a straight line with a hole in it” 

“A miracle is something a person does that can’t be done.” 

“The heat of the torrid zone is caused by the equator which runs around the earth in the middle.’ 


August 12 

Saskatoon berries are the cheapest and most plentiful of fruit this year, cultivated berries being reported scarce and therefore high in price so that the wild berries are eagerly sought for and gathered by all who have time to go after them. Two well-known ladies of Cochrane on Tuesday picked two and a half bushels of Saskatoons, which alone indicates a heavy yield. Wild strawberries are also plentiful. 

August 19 

Several parties motoring from the city Sunday wre berry picking up the Big Hill creek, some motoring up to the Big Hill creek falls, a natural beauty al spot. Where they held private picnics and took in the beautiful scenery. 


August 30 Train Wreck 

A serious train wreck occurred just east of Mitford early last Friday when a broken rail caused twelve cars of a freight train to leave the track. Fortunately, neither the engine or the caboose left the rails and none of the train crew were injured. The wreckage of the twelve cars was piled up in the greatest disorder, and the line was not clear for traffic until late in the afternoon. In the meanwhile, trains No. 13 and No. 1 were held at Cochrane and about noon, train No. 7 pulled in from the east and was also held until the line was clear. To pass away the time, a number of passengers from the trains staged a baseball game in front of the station. 


Murphy Hotel (Alberta Hotel)
Murphy Hotel


August 7 

Tourists Delayed by Storms 

The heavy storms which drenched the trails in the neighbourhood of Cochrane all last week, reached a climax during the weekend when a downpour of rain, which commenced shortly after one o’clock on Saturday afternoon, continued, almost without a break, until Monday. The bright sunshine of Saturday morning gave promise of a fine weekend and in spite of the bad condition of the roads, a large number of tourists started out from Calgary to Banff. By four o’clock the roads were practically impassable and Cochrane rapidly filled with travelers, both from the east and the west. Both garages were crammed to the doors with cars and each new arrival brought a fresh story of hours spent on the trail, mud holes, and trouble of one sort or another. The hotel rooms were quickly taken up and many late arrivals found accommodation in private houses, the curling rink, and in empty houses in the village. In the evening, the stranded tourists organized a dance in the Orange Hall and Mr. Cyril Godwin, of the Capitol orchestra, delighted all who were present with his beautiful violin selections. 

A large number left for Calgary and Banff that evening, by train and as the bad weather continued on Sunday and cars still kept coming in from the west, the Banff special train stopped here on its way back from the mountains and took a large number into the city. 

It is estimated that over sixty cars were held up in Cochrane, many of which did not get away until Wednesday. 

August 7 

During the storms last week, no less than twelve out of the fifteen lines connecting with the Cochrane Telephone Exchange were put out of commission by lightning. 

August 14 

Graveling has commenced on the Calgary – Banff highway at a point a few miles east of the top of the Cochrane hill. 

During the month of July, there passed through the east gate into Banff no les than 5,300 motor cars as compared with 2,225 in the corresponding month in 1923.


August 20 

A heavy downpour of rain, which lasted nearly three days, took place over this district. The moisture came too late to be of much benefit to the and interrupted haying operations for several days. 

A large crew of men is busy on the new elevator in Cochrane and construction work is going ahead fast. 

Preparations are being made to start drilling for oil again at the old Moose Mountain well. 

August 27 

Considerable snow fell in the district north of Cochrane last Saturday night. Fortunately the fall was not sufficiently heavy to seriously damage the crops and those which were beaten down are coming up again. Most of the barley and some wheat has been cut in this area. 


Rules and Suggestions 

We respectfully invite public attention to the following resolution passed by our executive on June 12th and trust that it will meet with a ready response. 

“RESOLVED that we offer a prize of FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR THE BEST DESIGN OF A DISTINCTIVELY Canadian National Flag, such prize to be doubled in the event of its being finally adopted by the Government, and a further prize of ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS for the best design submitted by a child attending a Canadian school.” 

We suggest that designs should be: 

(a) distinctively and originally “Canadian”, striking and dignified both to colour scheme and general appearance. 

(b) of simple rather than complicated construction, readily lending itself to manufacture even in the home. 

(c) No design to be less than two feet in length. 

Designs should be sent in a separate enclosure with the name and address of the contestant on the outside upper left-hand corner of the package, addressed to F. W. Crawford, Secretary-Treasurer, Native Sons of Canada, 570 Granville St., Vancouver, B.C.

Mike Taylor and Ensign flag in Cochrane Historical Museum

The doubling of the award of $500.00 is contingent on the adoption of our approved design by Parliament’s next session. 

The competition is extended to December 1st, 1925. Those desiring return of designs should enclose postage 

VANCOUVER ASSEMBLY NO. 2, NATIVE SONS OF CANADA, per Fenwick W. Crawford, Secretary-Treasurer

Deep Dive

The Le Sueurs

by Jean L. Johnson Big Hill Country 1977 pg. 111

The Le Sueurs were from the Isle of Guernsey and had been in the coffee business in Brazil before coming to Canada. In 1902 Walter Payn Le Sueur bought the north half of Lot 6, in Morleyville Settlement, from Priscilla Grier. William Grier the first owner of this land, had bought it but died shortly thereafter and Priscilla was administrator of the estate. Arthur William Payn Le Sueur filed on the NW 4-27-7- 5, but built west of there beside a good spring. Later he moved the buildings to the land he had homesteaded and for which he received the patent on December 3, 1908. This quarter section became the home place of the Bar C Ranch. Two miles north of there the Le Sueurs took up another homestead on the SE4 of Section 20. This land was known to oldtimers as Miss Le Sueur’s quarter. It became part of the Bar C Ranch, and years later it was taken into the Bow River Forest Reserve in exchange for Crown land farther south. 

In August of 1907, Walter Payn Le Sueur transferred his part of Lot 6, Morleyville to Edward Payn Le Sueur. The latter also bought the south half of Lot 6 which ran down to the Bow River. He was the first owner of this land although it is possible that others had lived on it previously. In 1908 Edward sold all of Lot 6, Morleyville, to John Fleming McCorkell. 

These early settlers have given their name to the creek west of the Bar C Ranch. Le Sueur Creek flows down swiftly from a small lake and 

runs east and southeast until it enters the Ghost River about two miles west of the Eau Claire Trail. The trail which the Le Sueurs took between their ranch and their land at Morleyville, crossed the Ghost River about a quarter of a mile above the Forks, and this ford, although little used today, is still called the Le Sueur Crossing; the grade they built up the steep south side is known as the Le Sueur Grade. From there they crossed the Ripley and hit the trail used by the Sibbalds and other settlers on the Hill. 

Harold Payn Le Sueur homesteaded on Spencer Creek, and he and Edward lived on the Glenbow Ranch and played polo with the Glenbow team in 1909.

Deep Dive

Mystery mudhole dries up

by Gordon and Belle Hall, A Peep into the Past, Vol 1, 1990 pg 28

In a previous story, I told of how when we were living on a Bow View ranch three miles west of Cochrane in the early 1920s, Irish Armstrong kept an active mudhole, well-watered, with a lamp in the window at night and a team harnessed, so that when people got stuck Irish would pull them out, for a fee of course. 

Toward the end of the summer of this year, Joe and Alice Boston were coming to Cochrane – in their rig pulled by a snappy team. Mrs. Boston was arrayed in what finery she had, I suppose, topped off by a hat given to her by Lady Adela Cochrane at Mitford. Mrs. Boston used to be Lady Adela’s maid before she married Joe. The hat, I understood, was quite a creation with feathers on one side and berries and things on the other. However, they hit a mudhole and Alice left the rig and landed in some more mud with the hat on the bottom. Poor soul. What a mess. 

Joe loaded her into the rig and brought her to our place. She was almost drowned. And mud – there was mud everywhere. My mother took control and got her into the bedroom and got her clothes off and told me to start hauling and heating water as she would have to bathe her and wash her hair. I had a hard time hauling water because I couldn’t stop laughing until mother cuffed my ears. Lady Adela’s hat was a complete ruin and her clothes were muddy and soaked. 

Irish had disappeared, and I didn’t think about the mudhole until Joe Boston, who had gone on to Cochrane to shop, came back, and when he stomped into the house said “Why in hell is there a big mudhole in front of your gate and none along the rest of the road:” Well no one spoke up, at least not till the Boston’s were gone, then Irish was tuned in by mother, no more watering mudholes, no more lights in windows, and no horses kept in harness. Amen. 

In the 1940s when I was working at the Texaco service station in Cochrane, a Grand Valley rancher drove in one morning for gas. He had a Chev sedan with the rear seat removed and a nanny goat standing in its place. The goat had its head out of one of the windows and was bleating its head off. I don’t think it stopped for breath. Asked by someone what the occasion was, the rancher answered, “I’m looking for a he goat,” and departed. About three hours later, he returned, the goat still giving tongue. Asked how he made out, the rancher replied, “Oh I finally found a he goat, but by that time she had changed her mind.” 

Deep Dive

The Bruce Family

by Stuart Grayson pg 204 Big Hill Country 1977

Donald John Bruce was born in Dunvegan, Isle of Skye, Scotland, in 1836. He came with his family, which included three generations, to Selkirk Grants, Prince Edward Island, in 1841. In 1869, he married Margaret Jane Smith of Rawden, Nova Scotia. 

In 1883, he and his younger brother John, who had been born at Valleyview, Prince Edward Island in 1849, came west with the C.P.R. construction, to Lake Louise (then known as Laggan). Later they both came to Cochrane, Donald as a foreman on the C.P.R. Section west of Cochrane, and John as Section foreman at Radnor. John, who never married, was killed in an accident in October 1905. An unscheduled train ran into the back of the handcar he was operating. 

Building what was claimed to be the first private home in the town site of Cochrane (the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Station is now there), Donald brought his family West in 1887, the family being his wife Margaret, children Leslie John, Catherine, Adela Maud, Ewan Mark, and Blanche. One daughter, Amanda, had passed away in the East. 

Donald took out a homestead north of Cochrane on NE14 22-26-4-5. His original cabin is still part of the present house on the land. Donald Bruce passed away in 1909 and his wife Margaret in 1932. 

His son, Leslie, was a schoolteacher, spending most of his time in British Columbia, where he was a School Principal and later, School Inspector. He married Elma Baker, a graduate of Dalhousie University, in Nova Scotia. They had no family and both are now deceased.

Adela Maud, unmarried, was also a long-time schoolteacher, teaching in Alberta and British Columbia. After retirement, she returned to Cochrane, but in 1938 she accompanied her nephew Stuart Grayson to Fort Vermilion, where Stuart was then stationed. Going up there was a thrill for Adela Maud; it was her first plane ride. When Stuart was transferred out in 1939, she remained there, because there were older children needing assistance with their education, and schools were not available. However she had a bad heart, and the climate was too severe in the winter. She moved out to Edmonton, where she passed away in 1943.

Dave Bryant

by Dave Bryant pg 359 Big Hill Country 1977

I was born in London, England, on May 1, 1903, and came to Toronto, Ontario, in 1907. My mother was born in Scotland and my father was born in Ireland. I have two brothers and two sisters. 

My sister Lillian and I came to Cochrane from Toronto in September 1914. I was eleven years old, she was eight. Our father had been electrocuted while wiring a hotel in Toronto. Our uncle at Cochrane, Jimmy Patterson, sent two tickets to my mother and asked her to let two of her children come and live with his family. My mother kept the tickets for almost a year before she would let us come. We traveled for three days and three nights by train. Lillian soon became homesick and cried nearly all the way. Someone had given me a pair of gauntlet gloves before I left Toronto. One day I opened the window of the train and held my hand out. The cinders from the engine blew back and burned small holes in my gloves. This almost ruined my trip out West. 

Mrs. Patterson and Mrs. Darke met us at the station. We drove eleven miles with a team and democrat to the Patterson ranch in Grand Valley. Their home was also the Caldbeck Post Office. 

Young Jimmy (age ten) met us at the barn. He was wheeling a wheelbarrow load of hay to the cows. He set the wheelbarrow down, looked me over, and with a grin as broad as himself, asked me if I could swear. I told him I thought I could a little bit. We were good friends from then on. He took me to the house where I met Jeannie Smith, a Scottish lady, who had lived with the Pattersons for several years. She was very strict and her first glance made me feel like Oliver Twist. Jimmy did not mind her a bit. It was nothing to come to the house just in time to see Jimmy running out the door with Jeannie after him, shouting, “The deevil is in yar fangers, ye kinna lev nethin alane! I sweer I’ll tell Pettersin on ye.” 

There were two boys, Donald and Jimmy, in the Patterson family and we three boys slept in one bed. Jeannie woke everyone in the morning by rapping on the door with her cane. I could hear her shout, “Pettersin aer ye up?” Apparently Jeannie was to wake us and judging by the dint in the door she had not shirked her duty. 

As we dressed I could not help noticing the socks the boys were wearing. When we came out of the bedroom, Jeannie had breakfast ready and was standing at the stove stirring a huge pot of oatmeal porridge with a wooden stick. After breakfast, I soon learned the secret of good socks. Every time Mrs. Patterson or Jeannie had a moment to spare, they would sit and knit. The main knitting needle was inserted into a ball (about the size of a softball) of hard-packed 

prairie wool hay, tightly wrapped in cord and placed on their laps; then they would knit so fast you could almost see the socks grow. 

I remember my aunt best when I think of loaves and loaves of delicious homemade bread, and cows and more cows to milk. When Ruth Hinde was born, Mrs. Patterson went to help. Jimmy and I started to milk cows at seven in the morning and finished at two in the afternoon. Jimmy said, “What will we do now?” I decided we had better start over again. After much puffing and sighing, we did. 


Shortly after Lillian and I started to attend Chapelton School, we were riding double bareback and I wanted the horse to trot. Lillian lost her balance and we fell off and I broke my arm. Uncle Jimmy took me to Cochrane. The doctor was out so Bob Chapman took me to a ranch south of Cochrane, where Dr. Ritchie and his son set my arm without giving me any anesthetic. Later I went to the West Brook one-room school. 

When I was fourteen I raked hay for Gordon Hinde, manager of the Rhodes Ranch in Grand Valley, for one dollar a day. During the War, I took a flatrack of wool to Crossfield for Chris Larson. Ab Banta also raised sheep and his hired man took a load in for Ab. We each drove a four-horse team. It was a two-day trip and as we did not have any money we slept in a Chinese cafe all night. The next day we each tied one team behind

our rack and headed for home. On the way home I gave a girl a ride for two miles. She sat in the far corner of the rack and never spoke. I’m still wondering who she was. During the hard winter of 1919 I fed cattle for Bill Tempany. In the spring of 1920, I went to work at the Virginia Ranch for T. B. Jenkinson. Mrs. Oldaker was the housekeeper and she was an excellent cook. 


Late in the fall of 1920, sadness struck the Patterson home when Jimmy took sick with scarlet fever and developed infected mastoids and pneumonia. The roads were very bad and Mr. and Mrs. Patterson rented a house and moved Jimmy to Cochrane so that Dr. Waite and Dr. Park could do all they could to save him. Anne Beynon was his nurse and stayed with him night and day. When all hope for Jimmy’s recovery was given up, Mr. Patterson, Donald, and I rode horseback to Cochrane to see Jimmy. We stayed in Cochrane overnight and our neighbor Clem Edge did the chores. Jimmy was propped up in bed so we could see him through the window. As all hope had been given up for Jimmy, Dr. Waite decided to try one more thing. He lanced Jimmy’s lung to drain away the fluid. Suddenly, Jim- my started to get better. Although he lost his hearing, he soon regained his health and there was happiness in the Patterson home once more. 

In 1921 I worked for Paul Swanson on the irrigation ditch at Barnes in Southern Alberta. Don Patterson, Bill Hughes, Pat Kerfoot, and I spent several falls pitching bundles for large steam threshing outfits in the Langdon, Cheadle,

and the High River areas. In 1923 Don Patterson and I worked for Mr. and Mrs. Dave McDougall. Although they had a large family of their own, they always referred to us as their boys. 

It wasn’t all work and no play in those days either. I often rode to dances held in Cochrane or in schoolhouses. I could ride from Pattersons across country to the Summit Hill School without opening a gate. One night I thought I would leave early and have supper with Susan and Jim Reeve. After supper, I admitted to Susan that I was sweet on the teacher at Summit Hill. Susan was aghast and replied, “Dave, she can’t even milk cows!” 

Late in 1923 I went back to Toronto and worked six-and-one-half years for General Motors of Canada at Oshawa, Ontario. My mother passed away in 1929, and I returned to Cochrane and went to work on the Dog Pound and Lochend roads for George Woodson. All the road work was done with horses and a Fresno or a walking plow. 

I bought a team of my own and drove them to Lake Louise to work on the highway. When there was no roadwork, I worked for Andy Garson, Tom Baptie, Chappy Clarkson, and Archie Kerfoot. In the winter of 1934, after working on the road at Lake Louise, Bill Melleck and I drove our teams back to Seebe to work in the relief camp. Food, clothing, hay, and oats were paid for by the Government. We were paid 20 a day for our work and 80 a day for our team. It was twenty degrees below zero when we left Pattersons, and I drove my team and walked beside my wagon almost forty miles to Seebe. Bill had asthma so bad he could not walk and he nearly froze to death before we got there. 

In 1933 I bought a quarter section of Hudson’s Bay land, NW4 26-27-5-5, in Grand Valley for $8.00 per acre, where my wife and I still reside. 

In the 1930s taxes were low but hard to pay. You could pay part of your taxes by working on the road, which I did. One year the Social Credit Government paid us with scrip. Scrip and stinkweed were often referred to as “Aberhart’s Alfalfa.” William Aberhart was Premier of Alberta at the time. 

On September 10, 1936, Ellen Ullery and I were married by Reverend Dr. McKeen Reid, at my home in Grand Valley. We have three children: David Earl, married to Betty Grievson; Dorothy May, married to Donald Edge; and Lillian Ethel, who married Harvey Short from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Lillian is now married to Gary Gingles from Exshaw. We have three grandchildren, Gary and Bary Bryant and Dallas Anita Short. 

David has his own road construction business and builds roads in the Cochrane and Calgary areas. Dorothy has been a secretary for Mobil Oil of Canada, Ltd. for seventeen years. Lillian is also a secretary and works for Alberta Natural Gas Company at their plant just northwest of Cochrane.

My sister Lillian went back to Ontario when she was eighteen and married Robert Colquhoun. They have three children, Bob, Ron, and Joan, and eight grandchildren: Bob and Shirley’s children, Robert and Craig; Ron and Audrey’s children, Laura, Betty, Barbara, and Allan; Don and Joan Gruber’s children, Sheena and Tasha Dawn. Allan passed away at the age of eight due to a riding accident. Lillian, now a widow, loves to visit the West and drive up the Grand Valley road. She often recalls the times the Patterson boys would tease her until she cried, then hug her and say, “Now, now, wee womany, don’t cry.”

Deep Dive

W.H. Webb Family

by George Webb pg 663 Big Hill Country 2007

Dad came to Canada, from England in 1905, along with Sam Timmins and Alf Elkins. My uncle Charlie was already over here. The four of them homesteaded Section 22-27-4-5. Dad’s was the NE4 22-27-4-5. They hauled logs from the bush north of the homestead to build their houses. The logs were hauled with a team and wagon. When each one of them finished their house, they sent for their family to come over. Mother and the children arrived in 1906, the children were Florence, Charlie, Ethel, George, and Harry. At that time Harry was the baby. Billy, Dorothy, and Alfred were born in Canada

There were no roads, fences, or telephones; money was mighty scarce, but we had really good neighbors. Each family took turns going to town for supplies, which was usually once a month

Alf Elkins thought it was too hard a life. He gave up his homestead, moved to Calgary and started a bakery. Louis Blow took over his land. When Sam Timmins got the title to his land he moved to Calgary. Shortly after, Dad sold our quarter to my uncle Charlie and we moved to Calgary. Dad worked in Calgary until 1917, came back to the Weedon area, bought the Sam Timmins quarter, and started farming all over again.

My sister, Florence, married Tom Quigley, Charlie went Overseas with the 113th Battalion and the twins, Alfred and Dorothy, passed away. In the early twenties, Lily, who had been residing in Vancouver, passed away. Our family was getting smaller all the time. Ethel married Joe Fleenor, they lived in Calgary for a few years and then moved to a farm in the Weedon area. Harry and Bill never married and they are still on the homestead. 


Our water supply came from the sloughs. We used this water until we could get a well dug. Digging of wells was all done by pick and shovel, going to a depth of 90 to 110 feet to get water. 

In those days people were closer to one another, helping each other and certainly not trying to outdo each other; everyone was struggling to build a good life and they found enjoyment in doing it. 

My first job I remember well, was working for Lars Heland. He had Section 27-27-4-5 rented from Frank Smith, who lived at Champion, Alberta. I drove eight head of horses on a brush breaker, walking behind the plough; there was no seat on it so I had very little choice. I broke 100 acres, starting at 4:30 a.m. and stopping at 8:00 p.m. For that I received forty dollars per month. The next year I went to work for Bill McGlashing, who had opened the old Bonnie Brae mine again. We were going to get rich for sure. The mine was on the south side of the Bow River, near the Crawford place. We put a year and a half in there. Tom Zuccolo hauled the timbers for it, we went down four hundred feet and it flooded. We all had to go and find other work, planning to go back in the fall, but we never did. 

I went to work for Walter Hutchinson. I stayed there for three years. He had the biggest hay rack I had ever seen; nine feet wide eighteen feet long with four-foot stakes. We loaded this rack, using the four-tined pitchfork. One day we would haul three loads and the next day four loads. I did this seven days a week all winter long. Art Coburn was working at Hutchinsons too; we never thought about coffee breaks or the eight-hour day, we were so glad to have a job. One incident I remember well, was about 1925 Harvey Adams, a cattle buyer, came out and bought all of the calves. We had to drive the cows and calves to the stockyards in Cochrane and separate them. There being no trucks then, driving was the easiest way to handle them. We got them separated and drove the cows back to the ranch. The next morning the cows were scattered from the ranch to Cochrane. We spent a week looking for cows and I don’t think we ever got them all back. 

In 1928 I went to work for Sibbald Motors in Cochrane. In 1930 I married Eleanor Rushfeldt. R. B. Bennett was Prime Minister then and I think he was the only Prime Minister to keep his promise. He said if he were elected he would have Canada on its feet in sixty days; within thirty days there were thousands walking across the country looking for work. 

Over the years we had four children, Arnold, Kathleen, Orvil and Sharon. Arnold married Mary Young, Kathleen married Roy Line, Orvil married Marian Bell and Sharon married Ray Lambert.

Deep Dive

photo courtesy Global News

Cochrane Advocate News July 1921 – 1927


July 10 

On Monday evening the Eau Claire Lumber Company’s drive cleared the Ghost River and the logs are well on their way down the Bow. Fine weather and good water conditions have helped the work considerably and the drive is out of the Ghost nearly a month sooner than last year. 

CGIT Lawn Social 

A very successful Lawn Social was held on Tuesday, July 8th at the home of Mrs. Bruce, under the auspices of the Four Be’s Group. C.G.I.T. 

Tea and ice cream were served at small tables groped on the verandah, which was decorated in the C..G.I.T. colours, blue and white. The contents of the Grab-tubs created much amusement among the young people. The girls were well pleased with the financial end of the affair, as it promises to them a happy fortnight at camp. 

July 24 

Wendell Hall in Cochrane 

This afternoon Mr. and Mrs. Wendell Hall nd party passed through Cochrane on their way to Banff Mr. Hall is the author of that well known song “It Ain’t A’goin to Rain no more” and many other popular songs. At the Alberta Hotel, Mr. Hall very kindly consented to oblige the crowd and, accompanying himself on the ukelele, sang a number of his most popular selections which were very much enjoyed by all who were present. 

At the conclusion of this impromptu concert, a number of the boys decided to return the favour and a miniature stampede for the benefit of the visitors was put on at the stock yards. 

After spending several hours in the village, Mr. and Mrs. Hall continued their journey, expressing themselves as having thoroughly enjoyed their short stay in Cochrane. 


July 31 

Weather conditions over all this section of Alberta have been very unsettled this week and thunderstorms and heavy rain have been daily occurrences. Several sharp storms took place on Sunday afternoon and evening, and early on Monday morning a downpour of rain commenced which did not cease until 10 o’clock that night. It is doubtful if such a continuous and heavy storm has even been experienced in Cochrane and it is estimated that over three inches of rain fell during the day. In a consequence of the storms, haying operations have been discontinued this week, but the moisture has greatly improved the crop outlook. 

Graveling the surface of parts of the Banff-Calgary highway is to be started at once, according to a statement received in a letter By A. H. McKay, president of the Calgary Auto Club, from Engineer Davidson, head of the provincial highways department. It is extremely doubtful if the stretch between Calgary and Cochrane will be in shape for graveling this season. 

July 1 


Cheap passenger rates on the C.P.R. for the Calgary Stampede will be in force from Saturday, July 9th to 18th inclusive. The return fare from Cochrane will be $1.25. 

July 14 

Gains Awards at Industrial Exhibition 

Our well-known local artist, Mr. Roland Gissing, better known as “Gus” of Ghost River, is to be congratulated on his success at the Industrial Exhibition in Calgary this week, having gained first in the original pastel landscape, and second place in the original oil landscape class. 

Mr. Gissing, whose “studio” consists of a log shack on the banks of the Ghost River, has certainly made great advancement in his work during the past year or two, and this year is turning out work that certainly deserves recognition. 

Frank Hennessey, Gordon Davies & Hamish McNaughton Kerfoot with unknown Gissing painting

Calgary Stampede 

The greatest stampede parade ever staged was witnessed by thousands of spectators in Calgary on Monday, the opening day of the annual Exhibition and Stampede. 

The parade was more of a pageant of the old-time West, depicting the early days with Indians, Red River carts, pioneers, prospectors, cowboys, and chuck wagons, and slowly advancing to the latest modes of transport and industrial development, represented by decorated floats and automobiles. The Stampede and Exhibition, lasting the entire week, is of monster proportions this year, with many additional attractions such as steer decorating. 

Johnny J. James Shows are present, again, also with many new features of including dancing elephants. Arabian acrobats and human oddities such as the French and Belgian midgets whose combined weight is about 40 lbs.; “Laurello” a living man with his head on backward, and “Alpine”, Florida’s prime product, weighing 50 lbs. with a waist measurement of 5 feet. 

For those who find such gruesome sights attractive there is certainly plenty of variation. 

Women and Hotels 

“Women in hotels are the most trouble and most damaging to property,’ says a chambermaid who has been at this kind of work for 18 years. “Next in order of damage and trouble are young men. The least trouble are the older men who live alone. They are usually neat and orderly. Young men make much dirt and disorder from their cigars and cigarette ashes. Also, they sometimes burn holes in sheets or table covers, and they use towels to wipe off their shoes. But even at that, they do less harm than an average woman. More damage is done by rouge on towels than by using towels to wipe on shoes Then women have their facial powder or cold cream all over everything. They have many foolish little trinkets, and odds and ends of clothing, to be picked up, and they complain if one of these seems to be mislaid. Yes, and they are more likely to carry towels away with them than men are” 

Oil Sands Reached in Two Wells 

Further proof o the wealth of Alberta oil fields appears in the reports of two strikes, made during the past week in wells in the Turner Valley field. At the Dalhousie No. 5 well a heavy flow of crude oil, testing about 42 degrees Beauce, is reported at a depth of 4325 feet; while in the Regent well production of crude oil testing about 60 degrees Beauce was reached at 2365 feet. 

July 21 

The Dog Pound Stampede and Picnic that was to have been held yesterday, July 20th, has been postponed until Wednesday, August 3rd, owing to the very unsettled weather and the terrible state of the trails. 

Let us hope things improve a little by then. 

The Weather 

Unheard-of weather conditions have been experienced in the Cochrane district during the past few days. 

The terrific hail and electric storms of Sunday were followed on Monday by an equally severe one that swept across south of Cochrane, doing considerable damage in the Jumping Pound and Brushy Ridge districts. Hailstones of enormous size are reported to have fallen. 

On Tuesday the Ghost Valley was again hit by a storm of alarming ferocity, the hailstones being twice as large and falling for a much longer time than during the storm on Sunday. 

All crops in that area are now totally wiped out, and the roofing of light material was torn to pieces. 

Tourists arriving in Cochrane from the west at the time brought samples of hailstones the size of a tennis ball. 

Cochrane escaped with a deluge of rain and a little hail. 

July 28 

Another severe storm struck Cochrane and the surrounding district on Tuesday evening, low black clouds sweeping over from the north at about 5:30 p.m. bringing with them a perfect deluge of rain. Vivid flashes of lightning accompanied the storm, one of which blew the electric light fuses, no lights being available until about 9 o’clock. 

A haystack on Bill Edge’s place south of the river was struck by lightning and entirely destroyed. The stack had only been completed that afternoon. Hail fell in the Grand Valley, Beaverdam, and Lochend districts, doing considerable damage to crops, those on Mr. B. F. Rhodes’ ranch in Grand Valley being virtually ruined. 


Robt. Butler had a strenuous and busy day last Sunday up at Ghost River at his Refreshment tooth serving out ice cream and manufacturing ham sandwiches which to say the least were delicious! About 200 travellers visited the booth and were refreshed and the day being overbearingly hot they were certainly thankful that such a booth is there during the summer and pleased with the willing service of the genial owner. Misses McEachern, Andy Garson, Hughie McEwen, Jim McEwen and Mr. and Mrs. F. W. Maggs and Miss Enid Maggs were visitors at the booth who motored up in the cool of the evening. By the way it is reported Bob is looking for a wife to help him out. 


July 21 

The Conservative Party of Alberta has issued a threat to re-organize. Possible the Liberal Party may take similar action. How would it be for the people of Alberta to send them somewhere, some pleasant retreat where they weary may be at rest, where they might take counsel together and decide to either come back to us as intelligent citizens, or just fade away, undisturbed by the onward march of civilization?

Deep Dive

Charles Webb Family

by Robbie Webb pg 660 Big Hill Country 1977

My father, Charles Webb, was born in Birmingham, England. He immigrated to Ontario in the 1890s, obtained some schooling there, and learned the blacksmith trade. He followed his trade, working at sawmills and railroad construction, including work on the first rail line in the Crows Nest Pass. 

At some time in Father’s career, he went on harvesting excursions to the Dakotas. This is where he met his future wife, Annie Clark, who with her parents had come originally from Devonshire, England. Her parents, the Henry Clarks, later moved from Crystal, North Dakota, to settle near Leduc, Alberta.

 After the death of his wife, my grandfather came to live with my parents. He passed away at Cochrane and is buried in the Cochrane Cemetery. 

After my parents were married they came to Calgary, about the year 1902, then went to Crossfield, where my father opened a blacksmith shop. I was born in Crossfield in 1906, and a year later my parents took up a homestead on the NW14 22-27-4-5, in what was later the Weedon district. Sometime later my father bought the adjoining quarter to the south, which had been homesteaded by Mr. Timmins. Logs and rough lumber were bought from the Quigley sawmill in the bush about twelve miles northwest, and a house, barn, chicken house, and blacksmith shop were soon built. Water supply was of course essential, and obtaining it proved to be a very arduous task. 

Although the land in the Weedon area is generally level, with rich productive soil, it has for many years been nicknamed “The Desert” because of the depth of underground streams and lack of springs. Mr. Hammond hand-dug my folks’ well and obtained a good supply of water at a depth of 110 feet. Well digging was slow hard work, both for the man down the hole and his partner who had to pull up the buckets of dirt. Quite often it was the homesteader’s wife who did that. Cave-ins of the hole had to be prevented with a cribbing of rough lumber or poles. 


The Mounties patrolled what was in those years, miles of unfenced land, and periodically rode into the different settlers’ places to get acquainted and to obtain food and lodging. They paid about thirty-five cents for a meal and a dollar for overnight accommodation for themselves and their horses, all by government cheque. 

The first few years that my parents were on the farm were very wet. There were lakes and muskegs where now there is solid ground. Grain and potatoes did not mature well, but there was ample prairie wool available to be cut for wintering the livestock. Gradually more ground was broken, the seasons became more frost-free, and good grain was grown. About 1918 my father bought a small threshing machine. It was made in Quebec and built mostly of hardwood and driven by a ten horsepower engine which weighed about a ton.

Each machine was mounted on a running gear and moved around by teams of horses. Many farmers’ crops were threshed by this outfit as it was one of the first in the district. My father used it to do custom work for several years. 

In 1918 my father bought his first automobile, a Model T. At this time many more made their appearance in the district. Tom Quigley was the Ford Agent in Cochrane. Another milestone was the purchase, in 1925, of our first tractor, a second-hand Titan, then a new John Deere and a modern threshing machine. For the first time, most of the farm work was being done with a tractor. 


Weedon School was the centre of the district’s social and other activities. Church services, Sun- day School classes, political meetings, dances, whist drives, school meetings, ball games, box socials, and the Christmas concert – all were held at the school. Of course, there was the annual Weedon picnic at the end of June, usually held at Mortimer Coulee. It was the midsummer counterpart of the Christmas concert, for it was a chance for neighbours and friends from far and wide to have a visit. The children had a great time competitions of all sorts, lots of ice cream cones, and if you were lucky, you might find lost nickels in the long grass by the concession booth! 

My parents had a family of four: myself, Mary, Harry, and Violet. I went into the trucking business for some years after I left the farm and then went into partnership with John Milligan, operating the Webb and Milligan Garage, formerly owned by Clem Colgan. I married Barbara Waddy of Calgary and we have one daughter, Shirley (Mrs. Lorne Helmig). Mary trained as a nurse during the early 1930s and married Alex Easton. They have a daughter and a son. Harry farmed the home place until he sold it in 1969 and retired to Creston, British Columbia. Violet married Norman Easton and they have a son and a daughter. 

Deep Dive

John Milligan and Christina Rasmussen Family

pg 666, More Big Hill Country 2009

John was born in Cochrane on July 10, 1910. He was raised on the ranch and got his normal schooling at the Inglis School that was built in 1917. In the fall, the first pupils to enroll were: 3 Irish King children, 3 Bells, 2 Malcolm girls, John Milligan, Eric North, and Douglas McDonald. The first teacher was Ms. Ruby Wood. After that, John went on to the Olds School of Agriculture and graduated in 1929. John joined the business in 1933 in Fort McLeod with his father, William Milligan. Their business was to become WJ Milligan & Son Farm Implements. 

Christina Rasmussen was born on August 3, 1912, in Cayley, Alberta. Following her education, she took employment at the High River General Hospital and graduated from Nurses Training in 1932. John and Christina were married on December 15, 1937. They returned to Fort McLeod where they had Carol, on November 22, 1939. They then moved to Calgary where Beth and Betty were born on February 9, 1942, at the Grace Maternity Hospital in Calgary. Judy was born November 20, 1943, also in Calgary. John, Christina, and the family moved to Cochrane in March 1944, where John bought half interest in what was known as Colgan Motors Garage. The name was later changed to Webb & Milligan Garage Ltd. and it was also the Esso station and Ford sales and service. Around 1967, Webb & Milligan sold out and became semi-retired. After that, they sold the big brick house and moved to the Rasmussen house. John built a car wash and worked part-time for Lorne Helmig at the Imperial bulk station in Cochrane. Over the years, they were very active in the community. Chris was at home and in school and worked as a volunteer for the Cancer Society for many years. She was also called upon in medical emergencies, as Cochrane didn’t have a doctor living there. Another nurse, Aileen Copithorne, and Chris attended to many accidents at the bottom of Cochrane Hill. John was a member of the school board for many years and also served a term on town council. Later he was to become a Commissioner of Oaths. John died at the Sundre hospital on March 15, 1977, at the age of 67. After John died, Chris moved to Castor. In 1982, she was honored to be invited to the new High River Hospital for the 50th reunion of her graduating class. Chris died September 5, 1984, at the age of 72 in Castor, Alberta. 

Carol Milligan Dunwoody 

I was born November 22, 1939, in Fort McLeod Hospital. We moved to Calgary in 1941 and to Cochrane in 1944. I attended the Cochrane School until grade 10. My first job was at the Red and White grocery store in Cochrane, then at the Royal Bank. At this time, I went to Calgary two nights a week for bookkeeping and secretarial courses, along with business machines. I moved to Calgary and was a traveling steno for the Calgary School Board. I married Pat Dunwoody, on April 30, 1960, at the United Church in Cochrane. We lived west of Rocky Mountain House for eight years then moved back to our farm in Sundre, where we farmed and did grader work for the oil companies. We had four children: Larry, Cindy, Penny, and Robyn. Pat passed away on July 31, 1993, at the age of 57. I am still living on the farm enjoying my family and grandchildren. I keep busy with the Royal Purple Lodge and volunteer singing at hospitals and lodges all over the county. 


Beth Milligan Peverell 

My sister and I arrived on February 9, 1942, in Calgary. After I quit school I worked at the drug store in Cochrane and then moved to Calgary where I worked at Eaton’s. I married Brian Peverell in September 1959. Brian worked for his Dad at the creamery and got his boiler papers and learned how to make butter. We have two children, Darrin and Sandra. We moved to Castor in January of 1972, where we bought the Paintearth Creamery. Brian got many awards over the years for his butter making. We retired in 2001 and are enjoying our summers fishing and camping in Central Alberta. 

Judy Milligan Dunwoody 

Married Wally Dunwoody in 1961. We lived in Sundre off and on until 1972, when we moved to British Columbia with our three girls, Diana, Donna. and Rosalee. We moved back to Sundre in 2001. 

Betty Milligan Mackey’s Family 

My twin sister, Beth, and I were born to Chris and John Milligan, on February 9, 1942, at the Grace Maternity Hospital in Calgary, Alberta. We lived in Calgary for the first two years of our lives, and then moved to Cochrane with our parents, our older sister Carol, and our baby sister Judy. Grandpa and Grandma Milligan lived there, and later, Mom’s folks Herman and Julia Rasmussen, also moved to Cochrane from Cayley, Alberta. Our early years were surrounded by love from these significant people in our lives. Grandpa Milligan would come on Sunday morning to take us to Sunday School, and Grandpa Ras was always good for a few pennies when we met him on the street, that would buy an ice cream cone at Hart’s Drug Store. 

Mom took us swimming at the Jumping Pound during the summers, and berry-picking and picnicking at Big Hill Springs. Dad had every third Sunday off from work, and we would go for a drive Sunday afternoons to enjoy the countryside, I thought the whole world was surrounded by hills and mountains, and it was a delightful surprise to discover that there was a much bigger world out there. 

St. Andrew’s United Church and the C.G.I.T. were major influences in my life, and after earning a degree in Education from the University of Alberta, I went to study theology and Christian Education at Covenant College and Emmanuel Theological Seminary at the University of Toronto. I was the student chairman of the Student Christian Movement of Canada, (SCM); an interdenominational organization affiliated with the World Student Christian Federation, (WSCF) and attended a world conference of that organization in 1963 in Cordoba, Argentina. That experience opened a whole new world, and after graduating from theological college, I went to work with the SCM of Jamaica for two and a half years. After returning to Canada, I worked as Atlantic Regional Secretary for the SCM of Canada and travelled to all the Universities and Colleges in that region. During that time I was co-chair of an International Student Conference being organized by the WSCF in Turkey, Finland, and travelled to Geneva for the planning meetings. 

In 1971, I changed focus and went to work for the Labrador West Integrated School Board in Labrador City/Wabush as the Christian education co-ordinator/guidance counsellor. It was there I met my husband, Paul Mackey, a native of Carbonear, Newfoundland. We were married on August 25, 1973, in Cochrane and lived in Calgary, Claresholm, Morinville and St. Albert. Our two children were born in Calgary, Jonathan, on December 7, 1975, and Leslee, on June 10, 1977. During this time, I studied at the University of Calgary for my Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology. This enabled me to become a Registered Psychologist with the Province. We have lived in St. Albert since 1980 and both children enjoy coming home for visits with family and friends. 

Paul and I were employed by Sturgeon School Division just north of St. Albert as Guidance Counsellors in the school system. After retiring from the school system in 2002, I continue to work part-time as a Psychological Consultant for Alberta Education. Paul and I divorced in 1996, and remain, good friends, as we share in the delights of our two children. Leslee is currently studying at the Canadian College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in Victoria, and Jonathan is doing a Master’s program in Health Care Administration at UBC. He is a major in the Canadian military. He is married to Edith Wong, a dentist, originally from Lima, Peru. They are expecting their first child in December 2007.

Deep Dive

Cochrane Centennial June 17 2003

by Bruce Boothby from the Harbidge Family History

In April of 2003, the descendants of William and Mary Davenport Harbidge acknowledged 100 years since the Allan Passenger Ship. Tunisian, brought 1527 passengers, including William and Mary, and their families to Canada. The family would immediately travel by train to Calgary North West Territories located in the Dominion of Canada. 

On June 17, 2003, Cochrane would celebrate the 100th year of corporate status. As part of their celebration, Centennial Square was created and a bronze statue saluting the pioneer women who established within the community. Bertha Harbidge, wife, of Charles Harbidge arrived with her husband in 1903 and was honoured in the celebration. Nan Boothby, a daughter of Charles and Bertha Harbidge would also be honoured. Nan was a passenger on the Tunisian in April 2003. Many descendants of the family were in attendance. The youngest descendant was a great, great, grandson named Dakoda and himself a grandson of Beryl Harbidge who was grandson of Bertha. 

Mary Harbidge Hupkes, a daughter of Bertha Harbidge, was able to attend in her 81st year and is pictured below with her son Charles.

Mary Harbidge Hupkes and son Charles

Many of the descendants of William and Mary Harbidge attended. At the close of the ceremonies, I was able to locate descendants Shirley Blatchford Rushfeldt and Charles Hupkes and photograph them at the statue with Mary Harbidge Hupkes.

Bruce Boothby is a son of Nan Boothby and grandson of Charles and Bertha Harbidge.

Deep Dive

George Bunney

- by George Bunney Jr.  pg 205 Big Hill Country 1977

My father came to Cochrane from Cornwall, England, in 1912. He worked at the blacksmith shop owned at that time by Sam Christianson. In the fall of 1913, he left Cochrane and went to work in a blacksmith shop at Pincher Creek, Alberta. He came back to Cochrane and at that time a shop was available at Bottrel. This he rented from Mr. Boucher and went into the blacksmith business again. 

In August 1914, World War I broke out and Dad, being a British Reservist, had to go. He served Overseas until 1919, then came back to Cochrane and purchased the blacksmith shop from George Hope. He later sold the shop back to George. 

In January 1920, Dad and Miss Lily Edith Peyto were married, and in 1921 they moved to the C. W. Fisher place and started a dairy business. They remained there for eight years. Dad ran a door-to-door delivery of milk to the residents of Cochrane while living in the Fisher place. In 1929 he purchased the Tweed property south of the Bow River and moved the dairy business there. For twenty-five years, Dad delivered milk door-to-door, never missing a day. Because of ill health, he stopped the daily milk delivery and started shipping cream to the creamery. In 1954 I took over the dairy business from my father.

Mother and Dad had two children, Ellen, and myself. Ellen married Ed Beynon. She passed away on April 16, 1948. They had two children, Florence, and Edward Clive. Edward passed away on June 4, 1944, at the age of 5 months. I married Donna Washington and we have three sons: George, Alan, and William. 

We sold our property south of the river and moved to a dairy farm north of Bearspaw. About a year ago we sold this farm and moved to our present home, two miles east of Innisfail. I am still in the dairy business with a purebred herd of Holstein cattle. 

Dad passed away in 1961. Mother lives in her own home across the road from us and keeps well at the age of 82 years.

Deep Dive

Fred and Bernice Reid

By Michael Simpson pg 668 More Big Hill Country 2009

Fergus Felic Frederick Irwin was born in the District of Islington in the County of London, England on January 26, 1904. The family moved to Maple Creek Saskatchewan in 1905. His father, Frank Irwin, died in 1910 and his mother, Mary Ann (nee Stronham) ran away with a salesman, leaving three young children destitute. They were adopted by three Reverends: Fred by Rev. Reid, thus his name change to Reid. 

Fred obtained his teaching certificate in Saskatchewan in 1923 and taught until 1944. On June 27, 1935, he married Bernice Stansbury Fletcher at the United Church in Cochrane, Alberta. The best man was Eddie Simpson and the bridesmaid was Eveline Fletcher. The newlyweds moved to Meota Saskatchewan, where they lived in a small teacherage in winter and a tipi in summer. 

In November 1944 they moved back to Cochrane and took up residence in one of the new cabins of Cochrane Auto Service. Fred established a radio and TV repair shop. Around 1946, Fred and Bernice took over ownership of The Old Timer (Cochrane’s only newspaper) from the original publisher, Father Lessard, a Catholic priest. Bernice was the editor until its demise around 1960. 

Fred died October 17, 1956 and Bernice passed away October 1, 1991. They had no children, but left a niece, Mary Simpson and a nephew, Michael Simpson. 

Eastend Cochrane 1959

This is an interesting photo of Cochrane as it shows:

  1. How 1A turned into Cochrane and ran down 1st Avenue
  2. The Reid TV repair shop was east of 1st Ave on 1St beside Webb & Milligan Service station (later Bow Ridge Motors)
Cochrane Parade 1927

Cochrane Advocate Articles June 1921 – 1927

Gordon Davies has curated articles from the paper that served early Cochrane, the Cochrane Advocate. Images are from CHAPS’ archives and only give a representation of life at the time.

June 16,1921 

The proposal of the Council to keep cattle off the streets seems to have been met with general approval. Among the cow owners, the opinion is held that the cows are better in a pasture outside town and there is a great feeling of satisfaction because of the improvement of having the streets free from cows wandering about. It may be necessary to institute a pound law and to appoint a pound keeper, but so long as cow owners maintain their present attitude his duties will be light. 

June 30, 1921 


To Owners of Cows in the Village of Cochrane 

It has been decided by the Village Council of Cochrane that unless cows out kept in the village are kept in an enclosed pasture, it will be necessary to institute a pound law, effective from the 1st of July. This restriction applies both during the day and night. 



June 30, 1921

The plague of locusts was an unpleasant visitation and the myriads of little black grasshoppers seemed to be almost as serious. It is reported they are invading Calgary, although no reason is given. No damage by them through this district has been reported. A really good rain would be welcome. 

June 5, 1924 

Grading work along the Banff highway is going ahead fast. The roads west of Cochrane are, unavoidably, in very poor condition for automobile traffic at the present time. A great improvement has been made at Coal Creek, where the road on the west side has been moved further south, thus reducing the grade and doing away with the sharp corner at the top.

Road Crew First Grading

June 19, 1924 

Rain has fallen almost continually over the Cochrane district during the last week and prospects for another bumper crop this year are very promising indeed. There is now an ample supply of moisture, but a spell of good, hot weather is what is chiefly needed at the present time. 

June 19, 1924 

The fishing season opened last Sunday, but so far there is no prospect of the rivers being in condition for a week or two yet. Licenses may be purchased from Mr. C. Grayson. 

June 19,1924 

Work started last Monday on the road west of Lake Louise, which is to be extended as far as Field. 

June 19, 1924 

Beer Licenses 

On Tuesday morning last, the Alberta Hotel resumed somewhat of its old appearance previous to the closing of the bars in 1916. Having secured a license, Harry opened up the beer sales room for business. This room is comfortably fitted out with small tables and chairs and included both the old bar room and the rotunda. Hours of sale are from 8 a.m. until 10 weekdays with the exception of Saturdays, when the beer sales room closes at 9 p.m. 


Murphy Hotel (Alberta Hotel)
Murphy Hotel (Alberta Hotel)

June 9, 1927 

The King’s Birthday 

To celebrate the 64th anniversary of King George’s birthday, an appropriate flag-raising ceremony was held in the school playgrounds on Friday, June 3rd by the school children. 

When the children had been lined up near the flagstaff, Mr. J. Andison then performed the hoisting ceremony, the pupils simultaneously coming to the salute, and with eyes raised to their country’s emblem they recited a few appropriate words vowing allegiance to their King and Country. 

Mr. Andison then gave them a short address on what the flag stood for, pointing out why they should always respect and defend it because it represented their King, their Country, and all that was dear to them, and that no country ever achieved anything worthwhile if this patriotic feeling and close allegiance to the flag was not prevalent. 

He went on to tell them that it was just this strong patriotism that brought about Confederation in 1867 four years after the birth of our present King George. Confederation, he told them, was really the foundation of Canada, as we know it today, was built. 

After Mr. Andison’s address the first verse of “O Canada” was sung followed by “God Save the King”. 

Cochrane Parade 1927
Cochrane Parade 1927

June 23, 1927 

The Diamond Jubilee of Confederation celebrations will really commence on Thursday, June 30th, when the children will put on a programme at the school, commencing at 2:30 p.m., which will include a pageant, relative to Confederation and the growth of Canada, and recitations etc. Everyone is welcome. 

June 23, 1927 

Diamond Jubilee of Confederation FUNDS 

Cochrane going over the top for the Jubilee Celebration! 

The Finance Committee this week are happy. 

The citizens of Cochrane and district are to be congratulated upon the handsome response to the appeal for funds 

It is now certain the Objectives will be passed and we can feel that our people do appreciate Canada, and what Canada has done for us. Now for a fine day on the 1st of July, and a real good time for everybody. 

If you have not already subscribed don’t wait to be asked – send it in. No matter what the amount of your subscription it will thankfully received by the Secretary, W. R. Daws, or A. Chapman, Treas. 

(NOTE; a list of subscribers followed showing the amount donated and the total funds to date were $625.51) 

June 30, 1927 

The Eau Claire Lumber Co’s log drive from their lumber camp on the north fork of the Ghost River, is making rapid progress this year, the logging crews reaching the Bow River at the beginning of the week.

June 30, 1927 


The Indians first hear sounds of the eager white man’s feet. 

And quickly passed the peace pipe and shared their land and meat. 

Then the white men took their land, and built their cities fair, 

And plowed, harrowed, and tilled the ground, with all their utmost care. 

May the Indians enjoy the advantage of the day; 

We should pour upon them blessings for their land we took away. 

‘Tis the Diamond Jubilee with people far and near celebrating the birthday of our land so young and fair. 

The Diamond Jubilee with folks on every hand drinking the toast to Canada throughout the whole young land. 

Leah Braucht 

(Leah Braucht, of Cochrane, who is only ten years old, shows unique talent for verse that should be encouraged. We hope to hear further from her. Editor)

Frank and Annie White

by Dorothy M. Edge pg 149 Big Hill Country 1977

Frank White, a cultured Englishman, was born in Birmingham, England, in 1844, one of thirteen children. He immigrated to Canada in 1860, with his mother and father, Sir William White, and all of his brothers and sisters, with the exception of the two eldest brothers, who by that time were grown up and established in business. They came by sailing ship and it took over three months to cross the Atlantic Ocean from Liverpool to Montreal. For several years Frank worked for the Grand Truck Railroad at different places in Quebec. He married Christina Ross from Cornwall, Ontario, and they had two sons, Frank and William, and one daughter, Jessie. Christina passed away when the children were very young and they were brought up by their aunt, Miss Marion Ross, at Cornwall. Frank Jr. became a renowned organist. He lived in New Rochelle, New York. William worked for Canadian Cottons Ltd. in the Maritimes. Jessie married William Munro and they farmed at Martintown, Ontario. 


In 1882 Frank was hired to be the business manager for M. H. Cochrane, president and founder of the Cochrane Ranche Company. He came West from Montreal and arrived in Calgary on September 18, 1882, and was employed at the Cochrane Ranche until the end of 1884. While living in the area of Big Hill, Frank kept a diary that contained a valuable and precise history of the early Cochrane Ranche. The diary dates from January 1, 1881, to November 22, 1890, and is now the property of The Glenbow Foundation in Calgary. During the 1940s and early 1950s, under the auspices of Alex McTavish, monthly installments from the diary were published in the Canadian Cattleman Magazine. Alex’s wife Martha typed the serials each month for her husband. This was a tedious endeavor because the writing was very small in places and she had to use a magnifying glass. Many names are mentioned throughout the diary. It seems that almost everyone who was ever in the area of the “Big Hill Country” in the “good old days” was recorded in the diary at one time or another. 

In the summer of 1884, Frank anticipated he might be relieved of his duties with the Company since the ranche had suffered heavy cattle losses two years in succession and the necessity to economize was evident. 

In September of 1884, Frank visited Fort Edmonton to see Annie Anderson, whom he had met in Point Levis, Quebec, many years before. Fort Edmonton was built in 1808 by the Hudson’s Bay Company as a fur-trading post, and it was a five-day stage trip from Fort Calgary, which was established by the North West Mounted Police in 1875. When Frank arrived back in Calgary he took his light wagon and with his best team, “Banjo” and “Bones”, whose names were reminiscent of the colored minstrel shows that were popular at the time, started out for the Mount Royal Ranch and Morleyville. He stopped for dinner at Big Hill and visited with W. D. Kerfoot and reached the Mount Royal Ranch after dark. The next day he went to Morleyville and had supper at Trader David McDougall’s. 

With thoughts of a sheep project on his mind, Frank looked over the countryside and called in at Boyds, Griers, Sibbalds and Rev. John McDougall’s, where he met Tom Fawcett, the Dominion Land Surveyor. Richard Hardisty, a Hudson’s Bay Company Factor, who was in Morleyville at the time, was interested to hear of Frank’s interest in the sheep business, and Frank told him he had negotiated for a range lease. The Hardistys and the McDougalls were good friends of Frank’s and they often went skating together on the Elbow River. One time when Frank had supper with the Hardistys, salmon and beaver tail were served. Beaver tail was considered a delicacy by the old Hudson’s Bay Traders and was served on festive occasions. 

Frank made a trip to Montreal and on December 19, 1884, he finished his connection with the Cochrane Ranche Company to establish himself in the sheep-raising business. He spent the intervening months raising capital for his new venture, visiting relatives, and buying furniture and equipment to establish a new home in the West. His aim was to locate in the vicinity of Ghost River. 

In the spring of 1885, Frank visited W. D. Kerfoot, who was manager of the British American Ranche Co., at Big Hill, and they looked over the remaining burned sheep that had been caught in a prairie fire. They rode on up into the big valley (Grand Valley) to where W.D. said he would like to homestead. They rode west past Beaupré’s old place and then W.D. returned to Big Hill and Frank went on to Morleyville. 

Frank’s furniture and belongings from Montreal finally arrived at Morley by train. He moved everything in a pouring rain storm to a cabin opposite McDougall’s. He proceeded to unpack things so they could dry out. He unpacked a wild vine which he planted down in McDougall’s garden. The next afternoon he rode over the range with Albert Boyd and later caught the train to Calgary to meet with Jim Robertson, a Scotsman, who had not faltered on his desire to go into the partnership agreement regarding the sheep business. A few days later Frank and Jim headed for Ghost River. It was still very muddy from all the rain and they got stuck with their wagon eight miles from Big Hill. Frank rode to get W. D. Kerfoot to come and help out with the load. They finally got to Morley and looked over the MacDonell place and the orphanage land but could not decide to pay anything for either place. Finally they decided on a place at the end of a coulee west of Ghost River. They proceeded to make ready winter quarters and got a new cabin built before going to Montana to drive up a band of sheep. Frank was the breadmaker and thought it was a real treat when “Lupino” yeast cakes first came on the market. This way he didn’t have to keep a supply of sourdough on hand. 

On June 27, 1885, Frank and his party left the cabin at Ghost River, bound for Montana. The summer was spent on the trail. They spent ten days at Fort Benton then went north along the Teton River. They finally purchased a band of sheep from Mr. Graden. They followed the trail homeward along the base of the foothills where water was available. They used two wagons tandem hooked pulled by a four-horse team. This only required the use of one man. They travelled about nine miles a day with 2100 head of sheep. By September 26th, the band was being herded west of Big Hill, up along Beaupré Creek, and on to Ghost River. They arrived at their established home on September 27, 1885. 

On October 20, 1885, Frank and Annie Ander- son were married in Edmonton. Annie was born at Point Levis, Quebec, on August 4, 1853, and was one of the passengers on the first passenger train to arrive in Calgary in 1883. During the second Riel Rebellion she filled cartridges for the soldiers and proved to be a real frontiersman. Annie and Frank had one son, Harold, who was born at Mitford, North West Territories, on December 17, 1888. The Whites were active supporters of All Saints Anglican Church, Mitford, which Frank helped to build. 

Rev. John McDougall was prepared to protest any encroachment of sheep on what he claimed as orphanage property. The planned orphanage was to be an institution to care for orphaned Indian (sic) children. On April 1886, Rev. John McDougall made inquiries about logs that had been put near the upper orphanage field by Jim Robertson. Frank explained that they were for a lambing corral. After two and a half hour discussion, McDougall said he would not allow Frank to use the orphanage land longer than six weeks, and that a protest to this effect was already on file. Frank was not in the position to move right then but said since the matter was in the hands of the Federal Government he would abide by their decision. McDougall said he would not abide by their decision unless it gave him and the settlers what they felt they were entitled to. McDougall claimed that he had been promised what land he wanted for the orphanage, to the extent of 2000 acres, by Sir John A. Macdonald six years previous and that the promise had been renewed four years ago and again was being reviewed. In the fall of 1884, Frank had bought $300 worth of wire to fence the area and was expecting to get a grant from the Government by 1885 which would enable him to erect buildings of stone or at least with stone foundations. 

It was strange that in a country with such vast unoccupied townships that two men should dispute over a few acres of land. Was it a resentment toward newcomers, or could it be the ancient feud between sheepmen and cattlemen? 

When the Special Train from Montreal to Vancouver, with Sir John A. Macdonald and party aboard, arrived in Calgary on July 21, 1886, negotiations took place with Frank White et al. The Government settled the dispute in favor of Rev. John McDougall. Frank was to move out of the Morleyville district and in compensation was given land south of the Bow River. No time was wasted in moving the sheep, as final arrangements had been completed on that date and by July 24, 1886, the first stage of the move took place. They herded the sheep toward Big Hill and crossed the railroad bridge at Mitford, two and a half miles west of Big Hill. Frank laid boards between the rails to create a platform on which to drive the sheep across. This move was to the distinct advantage of Frank because he had more range and better grazing land, so July 1886, marked the beginning of his “Merino Ranch.” By 1890 he was running about 5000 head of sheep. 

Around 1901 Frank sold the Merino Ranch to C. W. Fisher, and the Whites moved to Fernie, British Columbia, where Frank was the land commissioner for the Crow’s Nest Coal Company. He passed away in his eightieth year in January 1924. Annie passed away in March 1941, at the age of 88. 

Harold started to work as a mining engineer for the Coal Company in 1909. He served three and a half years in the First World War. He worked for brief periods for the British Columbia Government during which time he designed the first bridge at Skookumchuk. He also worked for the East Kootenai Power Company at Bull River. On August 9, 1928, he married Marion McAllister who was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, on February 9, 1891. Harold passed away after a heart attack on July 30, 1949. Marion still makes her home in Fernie. 

EXCERPTS FROM FRANK WHITE'S DIARY - as published by Alex McTavish 

June 21st, 1885. New Cabin. Robertson and I rode over range going up Greer Coulee, up Warnock Coulee to site of proposed summer corral, thence through timber to creek running down from Sibbald’s homestead. Started at 9 a.m., back at 2. After dinner, Mr. and Mrs. McD. rode down to cabin looking for stray mare. Evening, figuring on Robertson proposition. Wrote Murdock ordering harness. 

The harness was mostly hand-made by the local harness maker. 

June 22nd, 1885. New Cabin. Eve. rode to Morley, no mail. Mr. and Mrs. Nelson and Miss Flora McDougall at D. McDougall’s. Bought yeast and oatmeal. 

More bread and porridge. 

June 23rd, 1885. New Cabin. Albert Boyd came up to proposed site of fall corral and walked round to nearest timber. He offers to build corral 190 by 80 ft. (5 ft. high) for $65.00. Caught in heavy rain storm, Albert lent me his saddle blanket and I walked back to cabin. Boyd thinks he can trade two decent mares for the iron 

grey colt, so Jim started at once on the buckskin mare for Big Hill to bring the colt here. I baked and made a pole bedstead and finished the table. B.A.R. Co. finished shearing and began to pack their wool. 

Wool was quoted at 18 1⁄2¢ per lb. in Toronto on the above date. 

June 24th, 1885. New Cabin, cloudy and very warm. I finished the bedstead and dug holes for corral posts and fitted in the stable door. Jim got back from Big Hill without iron-grey horse, the horse having been turned out with a bunch that is now astray. Camp outfit sent after them. I went to Mrs. Boyd’s and got milk, wet through by rainstorm on way back. 

A homesteader’s bed was made of boards and covered with a hay-filled tick. Upland hay always carried its quota of speargrass, which helped to make life realistic for the sleeper. 

June 25th, 1885. New Cabin. Building hay corral. Andrew Sibbald called and said he doubted if he or Warnock would work for A. R. Boyd cannot trade horses as Ricks values his mare at $75.00. Mr. and Mrs. Nelson leave tomorrow. Dr. Girard at David’s, extracted a tooth for Miss Ruth. 

June 27th, 1885. New Cabin. Clear, fine, and very warm. Straightened up poles and stuff around stable, put wagon box on end, and left key at Mrs. Boyd’s. At one p.m. started with two horse team “Billy and Dick”, and Mr. Kerfoot’s saddle horse for Big Hill on way to Montana. Supper and camped with Mr. and Mrs. Kerfoot. Horses traveled 18 miles. 

On June 27th, Mr. White left his cabin on Ghost River, bound for Montana to purchase sheep to stock his new range. He spent summer on the trail, for he did not return till September 27th. 

June 28th, 1885. Big Hill, clear and fine all a.m. With Mr. Kerfoot and Robertson around wool and sheep shed and stable. Mike agreed to come down to Montana with us, we to board him down and pay him $45.00 per month from the time of purchase of the sheep. We intended to start for Calgary today but decided to wait here a day, so as to give them a chance to find Mike’s horse which has got away from him. 

Mike was evidently a sheepherder from the B.A. Ranch and being taken to Montana to assist in driving the sheep back to Alberta. 

June 29th, 1885. Big Hill, on way to Montana. Settled up account with Kerfoot, got Billy and Dick vented and everything ready at 11 a.m. and started for Calgary with Robertson. Camped at lake and got to Calgary at 7 p.m. Bringing collie pup for Mrs. H. and one for self. Arranged for new harness. Supper at Royal, saw Ogburn and took clothes to laundry. 

A good dog is essential in sheep-herding. 

June 30th, 1885. Calgary, on way to Montana. Had horses, Billy and Dick, shod, first time. Bought tent, oats and cook stove and had picket pins and swivels made. Albert Boyd and Ricks came down and Mrs. and Mr. Dave McDougall. Dinner at Royal, supper at Mrs. Hardisty’s. Old Mike came down from Big Hill and we tried to persuade him to sleep with J. Robertson but he said he must have a jamboree and would surely 

be on hand to start at 5 o’clock tomorrow a.m. Bought ice cream and took it down to Mrs. Hardisty’s. Slept at Royal after having a long talk with Matt Dunn. Decided to use my pass and ride on stage to save our horses as much as possible. 

The Ricks mentioned above was Frank Ricks, reputed to be the top bronc rider of the early days. His ranch was southwest of Cochrane. 

July 1st, 1885. Calgary. 4 a.m. with Robertson got the team and outfit ready. Mike came up and tied his cayuse and dogs to the wagon then disappeared. We ferried load across Elbow and I spent an hour seeking for Mike, then brought his cayuse back to Baines’ livery stable. Robertson started for Montana at 6 a.m. Found that Mike had been put in the guard room and broken out, had walked to head off the team. Had slipped his money, $130.00, in his pant leg and police only got what change he had out $9.00. I got his small traps from Mr. Boys. 11:30 a.m. with Hardistys to picnic on Elbow. Mr. and Mrs. McDougall and about 30 others were there. Got things ready to start in the morning and at 10:30 went down to bid goodbye to Hardistys. Party of friends there, broke up at 12. Settled with D. McD. for house logs and paid him $150.00 for Boyd. 

Men like Mike, who toil in backwoods places, are prone to cut loose.

Deep Dive

Agriculture and related services

pg 28 More Big Hill Country 2009

When the CPR line arrived in Cochrane in 1883, United Grain Growers built and operated a Grain Elevator beside it. United Grain Growers operated this elevator until the 1960’s when it was purchased by Parrish and Heimbecker. They ran the elevator until it burned down on February 14, 1981. Some of the Agents that worked in the Grain Elevator were Bob McKnight, Jack McLeod. Malcolm “Mac” Kopas and Harvey Thompson. 


Due to the large numbers of cattle being raised in the country, stockyards were built near the train tracks and the local ranchers and farmers trailed their cattle and horses there to be bought, sold, or shipped by rail. There were also stockyards at Mitford, on the south side of the Bow River where cattle were shipped from as late as the early 1940s. Crossing the river with cattle was always a difficult and dangerous job, so the trains loaded the cattle from the Mitford site. In the late 1940s trucks began to appear that could handle trucking to the Calgary Stockyards. 


In 1909 there was an auctioneer business run by King and Bevan and by 1911, it was called King and Webster. Then in 1913, W.A. Mackenzie offered auctioneer services. Joe Taylor was auctioneering in 1924 and by 1946, Ed Thompson was offering his services in this business. 

Farm Machinery 

Records show that C.W. Fisher and Alex McEwan were selling Farm machinery soon after the turn of the 20th Century. This was horse-drawn equipment like wagons, plows, hay mowers, and hay rakes. Russell Webster took over Fisher’s machinery lines in 1909 but Val Fisher kept the Cockshutt Line and McEwan handled Massey Harris, a Canadian company. Robert Butler succeeded Webster with McCormick and Deering, Frost and Wood, and the Oliver dealership. Robert Butler also handled Union Oil and Gas, which later became British American oil and gas. 

Tractors were becoming popular as well as grain binders and threshing machines so in 1916, a local blacksmith George Hope, acquired a John Deere franchise. Robert Young bought the International dealerships. McCormick and Deering from Bob Hogarth in 1932. Bob Hogarth had succeeded R. Butler. 

Whittle Implements was the International Harvester Dealer for farm machinery and repairs  

Veterinary Services 

There were no veterinary services available in Cochrane for many years however at times if things were needed the Drugstore kept a small supply of medicine for emergency needs. Many supplies were purchased from Eaton’s Catalogue and during the early years Veterinary Care was serviced from the Animal Clinic in Calgary and later Dr. Brian Edge built the Rockyview Animal Clinic. Dr. Quine did some work from his farm on the south west side of the steel bridge over the Bow River. The first vets in the Cochrane area had a large area to cover but certainly were a welcomed help at the farm gate when needed. 

Brickyards and Stone Quarries 

The Big Hill Country had many sandstone quarries in the early years and many of the buildings in downtown Calgary are built with this sandstone. The Shelley Quarry Company opened in 1908 and during 1911 to 1913, three quarries were operating up the valley of Big Hill Creek. Shelley Quarry sandstone was shipped to Calgary for finishing at the Headquarters of the Company. The sandstone was also sent to other parts of Alberta for use in buildings. The Glenbow Quarry was operating around the turn of the twentieth century and the Legislature Building and Government House in Edmonton are both constructed of sandstone from the Glenbow and Cochrane Quarries The quality of the sandstone was excellent and the quarries in the area provided much needed work for many immigrants in the early days. 

In 1891, Tom Cochrane established a brickyard at Mitford which he ran for a little over a year. In the late 1890s Mr. Little established a brickyard and Pete Collins took it over, building the first kiln in 1902. Collins brickyard shut down during WW1 but 

reopened after the war in 1918 and operated into the 1920s. The French Brickyard was established by E. Perrenoud and J. Boudreau in 1904. Gabriel Bruel bought them out a short time later. In 1914, Mr. Bruel and most of his employees were called back to France to serve in the army. The brickyard was shut down and did not reopen. Then in 1910, Mr. Quigley started a brickyard however it went bankrupt before World War I in 1914.

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

Coal and Gas 

Tom Cochrane mined some coal on the south side of the Bow River, west of Mitford. This enterprise did not last too long although later the Hozaida mines operated for a few years and the coal was used locally. Some was shipped on the train from Radnor crossing. In 1909, J.D. Curran had a coal mine on the south side of the Bow called Coal Mine Creek. Cochrane’s coal was not of the best grade so many still imported their coal from the Carbon, Drumheller area. As natural gas came in to the town and many of the rural areas, coal was not as widely used. 

Natural Gas was discovered early in the 20th Century in the Jumping Pound area. It was discovered by some early ranchers and researchers thus early drilling began. However, the field was not developed fully for production until the early 1950s. This was a great boon to the town of Cochrane as many employees lived there or in the surrounding districts and more moved in. 

Sawmills and Lumber 

Whenever people build homes they must have a source of lumber. In this area, Morley probably had the first sawmill as Andrew Sibbald, Alberta’s first school teacher, had experience in the sawmill business in Ontario and brought a sawmill to the Morleyville area with him. At Mitford, Tom Cochrane started a sawmill as his first enterprise. This venture lasted from 1886 to 1890. In Cochrane, the Murphy Brothers operated a lumberyard from 1898 until Joe’s death in 1920. Mr. Tom Quigley ran a lumberyard from 1910 until 1913 selling lumber from his mill west of Cochrane. When 

Sid Chester bought the Howard Block in 1913, he operated a lumberyard west of Third Ave West, a half block from First Street. To the west, beyond the Wildcat Hills, the Brooks family still operates a sawmill that started in 1923. It has lasted many generations and is still doing business eighty-five years later. Tom Zuccolo and his family had a small sawmill northwest of Cochrane. They used to bring wood into Cochrane to sell as firewood and they supplied lumber for the Dartique Hall built in 1934. In 1938, Mr. Al Mottet bought a sawmill, and with his brother George they bought a planer and sold lumber until the mid-forties. Other sawmills were located in the Bottrel area including the Buckler Brothers. They ran their mill both on the family farm and in the Deer Springs area as well they cut and peeled poles for Calgary Power in the late 1950s. Also in the 1950s others began sawing and planning lumber including Scott Lumber and J&L Lumber. Mr. A. Scott cut and sawed in the Kananaskis and his planer was in Cochrane where the recently vacated trailer park was located. (Corner of 5th Ave. and Glenbow Drive). About this time Mr. Alex Howes started a sawmill in Grand Valley. By 1950, he and his sons had opened a retain lumberyard in Cochrane. 

They advertised dressed lumber, rough lumber, building blocks, shingles, cement, nails, Monarch Paint, and brushes. In 1974, Dalton and Gloria Gibson purchased the lumberyard and ran it until 1979, they then sold it to a group led by Dr. Urban, from the Bearspaw area. The business was expanded to include a second location in Crossfield. The Cochrane location was discontinued but the lumberyard still operates in Crossfield under the name Howes Bros. in Crossfield. 

In 1974, Spray Lake Sawmills moved into town. Their operation included using the by-products as well as the lumber. The company has a large labour force and is a great asset to the community. In 1973, Cantree Building Supplies was opened by the Dickey Brothers, catering to the needs of the building trade and the urban people. As Cochrane has always served the surrounding farm and ranch community’s needs this business did not last more than 4 or 5 years. 

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