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. 

Deep Dive

Miscellaneous but necessary

pg 32, More Big Hill Country 2009


The Union Bank of Canada was the first bank in Cochrane and opened in 1910. In 1925 it became the Royal Bank of Canada. This was the only bank in Cochrane until the late 1970s. Both the Bank of Montreal and the Toronto Dominion Bank opened outlets but soon closed their doors. Some twenty years later they returned. In the late 1970s the Alberta Treasury Branch opened in the new Provincial Building on Main Street, later moving to its own building at its present location of 5th Ave. The Bow Valley Credit Union also came to town. It was built on the corner of 1st Street and 4th Avenue before moving to its present location on 5th Ave. 

Doctors, Dentists, and Medical Assistance 

As there were no medical Doctors in the late 1800s,  Midwives assisted in many of the births in the district. Margaret (Hatton) Robinson was here in 1898 and delivered many babies. Mrs. Dickie Smith, widow of R. Smith, manager of the Mitford Hotel was the mid-wife during the early 1900s and in 1902 she purchased the Sharp House (near Yee Lee’s) and turned it into a maternity hospital. The first Doctor in Cochrane was Dr. Toronto and he operated it for a time. Dr. Park moved to and lived in Cochrane before and after WW I. He practiced in the town and in the surrounding countryside. He traveled on horseback or by horse and buggy. Dr. Ritchie, who was farming on the south side of the Bow River was called on occasion to set a broken bone or tend to an emergency. Dr. Mecklenberg was an optician and he had his office in the Alberta Hotel in 1915. A Dentist, Dr. G.A. Pollard made regular visits to Cochrane in 1916. Then Dr.Waite came to town in 1920 and ran the pharmacy in 1923. Dr. Rivers was the resident Doctor during the Depression years. 

There was a pharmacy by the name of Currey Drug Store in 1921. Dr. Lymon was a dentist and he had an office at the west end of the Howard Block. Dr. Quirk had an office in the hotel in the 1940s and Dr. Cameron came to town and had an office in the hotel and then moved to the Texaco cabins. Dr. Milne came to Cochrane from Calgary a few days a week in the 1960s. Dr. Prowse opened an office in the Texaco cabins and came out 1 or 2 days a week. Dr. Milne left and Dr. Cox and Dr. McQuitty opened an Office in the old Hart’s Drug store on Main Street. Until then many residents had to go to Calgary for a family physician. 

Legal Services 

There was a Law Office in the Cochrane Hotel for a while in the early years. An ad in the local paper in 1915 announced the firm of Griffiths, Ford, Wright, and Miller would be available for business every Saturday in the Office of George Pitter. From the 1940s until the 1980’s many people went to R.E. Moore for legal advice. He graciously helped them and would take them or use Calgary lawyers to do the business. Otherwise, individuals would go to Calgary themselves to deal with legal matters with the lawyers there. In the late 1970s Ramsay and Ramsay opened a Law Practice in the old Hart’s Drug Store that had been Dr. McQuitty’s office on the main street. Today there are several lawyers in town giving the citizens needing these services a choice without having to go into the city. 

Insurance and Real Estate 

Charles Grayson had one of the first known businesses that sold Insurance. Also, H.C. Farthing has an advertisement in the local paper. In 1912, S. Jones and George Pitter, as well as R.A. Webster, sold Real Estate and at some point, Sid Chester did also. McLeod Insurance and Big Country Realty were both owned and operated by Jack McLeod. He ran his business out of his cabins on First Street West. Jack represented Saskatchewan Mutual until he sold his insurance business to Whittle Agencies. Frank Whittle sold insurance from his implement business. It is thought he started selling insurance in about 1940. He passed away in May 1956 and later his son Ray took over the insurance part of the business and opened Whittle Agencies Ltd. which he operated until the mid-1990’s when he retired and sold out to a group from High River. The Business is still in operation in 2008. Lillian Bryant started Cochrane Insurance in the 1970s and later sold it to Ben Van der Vegt. It is still operating today as Cochrane Agencies. Today Banks as well as small individual insurance agencies have provided many options to serve the people of Cochrane and the area for all their needs in the insurance and investment business. 


In the Cochrane Advocate in 1909 a lady Mrs. Taylor took in washing for a couple of years. The main laundry was run by a Chinese (sic) man Yee Lee. In the 1960s Gordon Hinther opened a Laundromat in the building that had been Andison’s Meat Market. Then in the late 1970’s when the Cochrane Valley Shopping Centre opened, a Laundromat opened there. This business is still operating as Prairie Laundry Mat. Others have come and gone. 

Telephone Exchange Building 

Belle Truman had the first telephone exchange in Cochrane and Ethel Crowe worked for her in 1920. Ernie Crowe was the agent for Alberta Government Telephones at that time. Belle had girls working for her on three eight-hour shifts daily. There was a small cot beside the switchboard and whoever was on the night shift would sleep there. 

The ringing of the switchboard was loud enough to wake them. The Telephone Exchange Office was located on First Street West. The telephone lines were party lines. Every telephone on each line had its own distinct ring. In 1968 rotary telephones were introduced to Cochrane and in early 1979’s AGT built a new exchange station on the site of the old Lind Pool Hall on First Avenue West. The old brick-clad building was demolished in the 1990s and the bricks were used to build the structure and sign on the Royal Bank property on the corner of First Street and First Avenue West. 

Shoe Stores and Repairs 

The first known shoe shop in Cochrane was opened by a Greek Citizen, Nick Cosis who came to Cochrane 

1919 right after WW I. His first store was in the Fisher Block until it burned down in 1927. Nick then moved his shop to a building on the northeast corner of 2nd Ave and 2nd Street. He ran this shop until the 

1950’s when he moved to Calgary. The next shoe store opened in the brick building on 1st Ave West. The owner and operator of this store was Paul Nytrai. He ran this shop from the 1960s to the 1970s. He brought his sister and brother over from Europe and they took over the shop for a short time before it closed. Andison’s Store also sold shoes. 

Hardware Stores 

Mr. J.W. Simpson entered into a partnership in 1908 with Mr. C.W. Fisher and operated the hardware store in the Fisher Block. When it burned in 1927, the hardware moved to the Howard Block, and Mr. Simpson ran the store until 1935 at which time it was sold to Mr. Barney Klassen. Klassen’s Hardware operated until 1957 when Barney retired and Mr. Archie Kerfoot and Mr. Roy Downs purchased the business from him.

In 1958 an addition was added to the north side. Eventually, the hardware came to occupy all of the lower floor of the Howard Block. In 1972, Roy and Ruth Downs purchased the store from Mr. Kerfoot and it continued to operate as Kerfoot and Downs Hardware Store into the 1990s. During this time the hardware supplied the Cochrane area with all its hardware needs plus gardening supplies and kitchen and giftware. Mr. Dave Murray, Jr. son of Dave Murray, the Blacksmith, had a hardware store built in 1947 upon his return from the war. The store, with living quarters above, was built on property belonging to the family. As well as hardware, Dave and his wife Irene had the John Deere dealership and sold propane gas. The store closed in 1974 at which time it was rented out. Since that time it has served in various capacities.

Cochrane Variety Store 

The first variety store in Cochrane was owned and operated by Mike Stapleton in the mid-1960’s. This store was located on the east side of the building that now houses the Cochrane Café. The store sold small appliances, dryers, toasters as well as other household items. They also carried a variety of children’s toys. At the time it was a very unique type of store for Cochrane. Eventually, Kerfoot and Downs expanded to have a small appliance and kitchen department, and then Home Hardware came to town with a similar business to supply the ever-growing town and area. Much later once the shopping malls appeared Canadian Tire moved in south of the Railway tracks and now we have a Dollar Store that is similar to the older Variety Store on Main Street.

Beauty Shops and Barber Shops 

The first known beauty shop was located in Lind’s Barber Shop on First Avenue West during the 1950s. In the 1960s there were three shops operating at once. They were operated by Bettyann (Buckler) Perkins in the MacLeod Cabins, Donna (Clark) Coutts in the Texaco Cabins, and Gladys Henderson. In the 1970s Richard Dolen and his wife Olive had a salon in the MacLeod Cabins and then moved to the Murray Hardware building on 2nd Avenue West. The Kut and Kurl opened in the 1970s and still is in operation in 2008. The Hair Lounge was started by Niki King in 1976, sold to Wendy Groger in 1979, and is still in operation. When the new Cochrane Valley Shopping Centre opened in the late 1970’s Bruna Ferris bought Gina’s Hair Boutique after a couple of years and she continued to carry on the business until moving it to her home in the last few years. 

Barber Shops were often part of the Pool Hall in the early days. Mr. Hewitt had a shop in 1909, then M.J. Baumgartener had a shop in 1920. J. Baldock had the Cochrane Pool Room in 1911. Brodie’s Barber Shop was located on Main Street between the Cochrane Hotel and the Howard Block. It shared the building with Mrs. Allan’s Tea Room. Lind’s Barber Shop was in the same building as the pool hall in 1950s. Mrs. Lind operated Cochrane Dry Goods out of the same building in 1955. This shop was located where the Telus Building is now on 1st Ave. West. Mr. Lind sold out to Walter Favell. In 1964, Pat’s Barber Shop opened in the middle portion of the Andison Building and in 1975 it moved to the side of this building and is now operated as a barber shop and beauty shop. 

Funeral Homes and Estate Planning 

In 1913, J.F. Mallor operated a business offering “Coffins, Caskets, Monuments.” Jack McLeod was a representative for a Calgary Funeral Home and from 1940 to 1956, Frank Whittle represented Jacques Funeral Home. It wasn’t until the late 1990’s that Cochrane had a resident Funeral Parlour. It took many years before the first Cochrane-run Funeral Home came into existence. Slywaka’s Cochrane Country Funeral Home opened an office in the 1990s. About ten years later McInnes and Holloway built a funeral home on Railway Avenue. Mel Charlton and Bruce Mahoney offered services for Estate Planning.

Deep dive

Cochrane Chautauqua recreation

Cochrane Advocate articles May 1917 – 1924

Gordon Davies has curated a number of articles from the old Cochrane Advocate. They show an interesting summary of the life of Cochranites in the early years. Photos are from the CHAPS’ archives.

May 3, 1917 

J. Baillie moved his bakery and confectionery store into his new stand on front street the first of the week where he now has one of the nicest shops in town. (this would be in what is now the RockyView Hotel) 

May 3, 1917 

The Cochrane Barber Shop has taken the agency for the Calgary Steam Laundry and will ship laundry down each Monday afternoon. Those having laundry to send should hand in their parcels before Monday noon. 


May 31, 1917 

Dr. G. A. Pollard, dentist, will be at the Alberta Hotel again on Friday and Saturday, June 8th and 9th. 

May 20, 1920 

Exceptionally strong winds swept through town for a while Monday morning, dust, etc. obscuring vision and making things somewhat unpleasant for those out in the open, nevertheless clearing the streets of surplus dust to the advantage of autos, etc. 

May 27, 1920 

The Cochrane Chautauqua 

The second appearance of the Dominion Chautauqua held at Cochrane for three days, Friday, Saturday and Monday, May 21st, 22nd and 24h., with the aid, perseverance and capability of the local committee proved a success from start to finish and entertained with great success the public attending, the Chester Hall being filled with audiences to full capacity at each of the six sessions…..

Cochrane Chautauqua recreation
Cochrane Chautauqua recreation

May 1, 1924 

In the opinion of most people in this district, spring has come to stay at last. Bonfires and the general clean-up going on in the evenings are evident of fact. The businessmen of Cochrane are looking forward to the Wednesday afternoon half holiday, which will come into affect on May 14th, providing the Village by-law passes its third reading at the meeting of May 12th 

May 1, 1924 

In the event of the Alberta Hotel being granted a license to sell beer, Harry will convert the whole west end of the building into a beer sales room. This will include the old bar room and the office. 

May 15, 1924 

New By-law Passed Third Reading 

At the regular meeting of the Cochrane Village Council which was held on Monday evening, May 12th, a new by-law was given its second and third readings. This by-law provides for a weekly half-holiday for all places of business in Cochrane on Wednesday afternoons. The following are exempt from this new regulations: Hotels, Restaurants, Garages, Livery Stables, Imperial Oil Co., Feed Mill and Coal Merchants. This by-law came into effect on Wednesday afternoon, when all stores closed at 1 p.m. In the event of there being a statutory holiday during any week, the half-holiday for that week will be cancelled. This will be the case next week, Saturday 24the th being a statutory holiday. 

At the conclusion of the meeting, the Court of Revision was held. Several appeals were forwarded for hearing, but in most cases were disallowed. The Mill Rate will be the same as that of last year, 23 Mills. 

May 22, 1924 

We don’t know what the record is, but one of Mr. Perrenoud’s hens laid an egg last week that measured 8 inches around. Some egg!! 

May 29, 1924 

The first tourist traffic of the season passed through Cochrane last Friday evening and Saturday morning, when over three hundred cars registered at the park gate, on the way to Banff for the holiday. The roads, though rough, were quite dry. The worst piece was probably between Coal Creek and Spencer Creek, where the road has been ploughed up preparatory to goading. The new bridge at Spencer Creek is now completed, though the work of changing the road at this point has not yet been undertaken. 

May 29, 1924 

Another attempt is being made by the Council to beautify Cochrane. A number of young spruce trees have been planted along the south side of First street, in the business section of the village.

Coronation George V Cochrane Advocate 1911

Curated by Gordon Davies

May 25, 1911 

Cochrane Polo Club 

The Secretary desires us to state that the Polo Game advertised in the Calgary News-Telegram as forming one of the attractions of the Coronation Day Sports at Cochrane on 22nd June next, will not be played by — or Under the rules of — the Cochrane Polo Club 

There was a full turn out of players on Saturday last for a practice game on the new ground, and all seemed thoroughly satisfied with the choice that has been made. The members present included the Captain, O. A. Critchley, A. McPherson, E. H. Abell, O. Johnson, G. Hinds, J. G. Tweed, D. V. Saunders, C. R. De la Vergne and P. Kerfoot. The ground rode well and most of the ponies out took kindly to the game. 

Motor Cabs in London

The enormous and rapid growth of the motor cab industry in London is shown in the figures given by Mr. H. Smith, President of the London Cabdrivers Trade Union, before the committee appointed by the Home Secretary to inquire into the conditions of the trade in view of the demand made by the men for higher fares. According to Mr. Smith, there were two motor cabs on the streets in 1904, and 19 in 1905. At the end of 1909 there were 3,956 and at the end of March this year the number was well over 7,000.

May 11, 1911

The value to the country of the rain and snow which fell on Saturday morning last is simply inestimable. The put it as some papers do “thousands” is ridiculous. It was worth millions, and many of them. 

The Cochrane Hotel has been undergoing a thorough house cleaning and is now in spick and span condition. The windows opening on the two fire escapes have been made to turn inwards on hinges and in case of need egress would be much easier than through the sash as was the case previously. The platform outside hotel has also been renovated and made more convenient. 


There will be a practice game on Saturday afternoon at the new ground, the Race Course. Visitors will be heartily welcome.

Motor Garage for Cochrane 

Chapman Bros. Are about to build a Motor Car Garage for Messrs. T. Quigley and T.S. Fisher on the lot between S.J. Peyto’s house and Pope Avenue. The building will accommodate four cars, beside giving storage rom for supplies of gasoline and all necessairies likely to be called for by motorists either in the ordinairy course or in an emergency. The building will probable be completed within a month. It should be a great convenience to visitons from Calgary and other outside points as well as to our own car-owners. 

The Coronation 

In deference to a generally expressed opinion, and many promises of attendance, we have to announce that a public meeting will be held at the Orange Hall (kindly lent for the occasion), at 8 o’clock on Saturday, 18th instant, for the purpose of discussing the subject of our local celebration of the Coronation of King George V., and the presence of all good Canadians is earnestly requested.

May 4,1911 

Be it known to all men, that the Hotel hitherto well and favorable known as the Murphy House, Cochrane, will henceforth be called the Alberta Hotel. Wm. Dean will continue to be the proprietor. 

Mr. J. Pfeifer drove his car up to Banff and back on Tuesday, with John Park and J. Baldock as passagers. They report that theirs was the first car into Banff this season, and that the road was in fine shape. 

The new machinery, &c. At the French brickyard was tested on Monday, and a trial run of 1,000 bricks was made, the result being entirely satisfactory to Mr. Gabriel Bruel. It is estimated that the season’s output of this yard will exceed 2,000,000 brick. 

The Polo Club 

The committee appointed to select a suitable ground for the club to play upon this season, met on Saturday last and inspected the old ground south of the track on the road to the race ground. The latter was eventually chosen, being Superior in all ways to the old field, which is sufficiently condemned by its proximity to the nuisance ground, the condition of which is a disgrace to any civilized community. Arrangements have been made Under which the ground will be marked out, the grass cut and holed filled up in time for the first practice game of the season, to be played on Saturday 6th. Inst. 

The Gopher Plague

What with the dry weather of last year, and the early spring of this, the Gopher nuisance is going to make itself felt as never before unless some concerted effort is made for the extinction once and for all of these little pests. So long as this was in the main a ranching country the Gopher was negligible quantity except for its incursions on the ranche house garden or the green feed patch, but now that the transition from ranching to mixed farming is well Advanced the extinction of the Gopher is becoming one of the burning questions of the West, and must be tackled at once, both by land holder and the Government, or worse will befall. 

Many men, with a fair sense of their duty to their Neighbors as well as of the peril to their own crops, are doing their best in various ways to

clear their own lands of gophers, and with considerable success but so long as their Neighbors selfishly abstain from co-operation, and there are thousands of acres of unoccupied land closely adjoining, their efforts, however costly, are as futile as the attempt to bale out the ocean with a dipper. What is to be done? We would suggest that, in as much as the Gopher is as great a menace to mixed farming and grain growing as are noxious weeds, inspection should be organised as thoroughly by the Government as in the case of weeds. Let the onus be on every occupier or holder of land to prove that he has taken all reasonable steps to exterminate the gophers on such lands, and where the owner is an absentee, whether a great corporation, ranching company or speculator, let the inspector have authority to appoint some person or persons to destroy, by poison or otherwise, the gophers on each unoccupied lands within a reasonable limit of expediteur according to area, the cost to be registered against the land in the same way as in the case of unpaid taxes or expense of weed destruction. 

The influx of setters is making the propogation of the Gopher more easy, not only to gratuitous provision of food but also by the destruction or driving away of such natural enemies as hawks and coyotes. 

If this Western country is to escape a curse similar to that brought upon Australia by the incautious importation of rabbits from England, a curse which has lasted through two generations and is not yet wiped out, every man, woman and child must join in a crusade against the gopher, and the Government must provide machinery to ensure that the trouble and expense fall in fair proportion on every holder of land, rich or poor. 

The Creamery 

A notice has been sent out to all the shareholders in the Creamery to the effect that the building and equipment will be ready for a public demonstration on Monday, 8., inst. in the afternoon, and that Directors and officers of the enterprise should now be elected. The President of the Board of Trade, Mr. J. G. Tweed, J.P., and the writer visited the building yesterday and were shown round by Mr. Charles Marlatt, who explained the purpose and working of the milk testing machine, the rotary churn and other machinery. 

We hope that as many people as possible, whether shareholders or intending patrons, will make a point of being present on Monday, and that a strong Board of Directors and thoroughly competent officers may be chosen so that the Creamery may at least start with a fair prospect of success.

Construction, Builders and Contractors

pg 31 More Big Hill Country 2009

Gravel Pits 

Andrew Clarke bought some land south of Griffin Road and east of River Avenue from which they operated a gravel pit. This was originally the Want homestead. His company A. Clarke and Sons started out with a contract to build the old bridge across the Bow River in 1927. Later on, Norman and Laura Kells purchased the gravel pit from Clarke’s and ran it for a number of years. This property is now the Burnco site. 

Building Contractors 

The Pedeprat Brothers were known for their axe work on logs and built many of the houses and outbuildings in the area. Most men built their own homes and out buildings often with help from their neighbours. In 1905, stonemasons started work on C.W. Fisher’s home, now Mt. St. Francis Retreat. One of the Stonemasons was Oscar Sundstrom. James Andison, brother to William, was a carpenter and built the Weedon School which is now in Heritage Park. In 1910, the Chapman Brothers started their construction company and in 1911, Mr. Hewitt joined them. That same year Sid Chester got into the building business and in 1915, William Camden, a stonemason came to Cochrane to add an addition on to the Fisher home. Some of the other builders in Cochrane were Bob Beynon Sr., Hector McDowell, Lambert Brothers, Charlie McDonald, Frenchy Suel, and Roy Buckler. Then larger firms like Dutch Construction came in to Cochrane and building became a large industry with several companies employing many workers. At one time a carpenter built the whole house, doing the plumbing, electrical and gas fitting but as construction became more complicated, sub-trades appeared. Now it is not uncommon to have a General Contractor, a framer, a drywaller, a painter, an electrician, a plumber, a heating and furnace man, a window and door man, a flooring installer, roofing and siding or stucco contractors. These jobs are all done by different people plus inspectors come in to check the work. We sometimes wonder if life has become simpler? 

Paper Hanger, Painter, Decorator

G. Cruickshank, advertised services for home decorating in 1915. Others that offered services for home improvements and painting were Robert (Bob) Beynon Sr. and Norman Elliot. 


When machinery became available for excavating one of the first in Cochrane to have this type of business was Jack Steel. Later some of the others to take on this business were Dave Bryant operating as A&B Construction, Norman and Joe Kells operating as Kell’s Active Excavating, Grimstead Construction and Roy Genung and Son Excavating. Today there are many companies in and around Cochrane offering this service such as Kelly Harbidge and L. Want and Sons. 


When Calgary Power made electricity available to the rural area and smaller towns in Alberta it opened up a new business opportunity and electricians started to set up shop. The first known electrical business came into Cochrane in the late 1940s. Bow Valley Electric was started in 1947 by John Raboud, who sold it to John Stuart in 1952. They advertised “Fully Licensed for Rural and Domestic and Commercial Wiring. In the early 1960’s it was taken over by Mike Stapleton. In the 1970’s Rowan Electric and Les Cowan Electric opened businesses. 

Cochrane Electric Services 

This business was owned and operated by Fred Reid. He fixed Radios etc. and sold television sets in the mid 1950’s. Many of the first television sets to occupy Cochrane living rooms came from this little shop. It was located on Main Street between the Telephone Exchange and the Esso Service Station. In 1960, Fred’s wife, Bernice opened a dressmaking shop in the back of his building. She also owned and operated the “Old Timer” newspaper from this shop. As electric lines were made more readily available with few houses not having this service, the demand for electricians grew. Several small businesses began operating in and around Cochrane. One of these being Ferris Electric which is still in business today (2008). 


Plumbing, Heating and Gasfitting 

Renown Sheet Metal was owned and operated by Don and Sheila Wigton. Moving to Cochrane in 1960-61, Sheila did the books and Don did the installations. He took on apprentices and helped them get started in the business. Two of his apprentices were his sons Bruce and Bob. Don was always available to help solve problems with your furnace, appliances and water wells, and stock waterers. He was willing to come immediately, day or night to make sure his clients were to get by until proper repairs or replacement parts were available. Often Sheila was out helping him pull a pump to get water running to a house or for stock. Many of the older residents in and around Cochrane dreaded the day Don would retire. His son Bob has taken over the business. 

Industrial Plumbing and Gasfitting was operated by C.D. Quance and began operations in Cochrane in 1955. Trim Plumbing was operated out of the Whittle building on First Street West in 1966. Modern Plumbing Heating and Gasfitting was opened by Gordon Hinther. His shop was the old meat market on First Street near MacKays General Store. He ran a coin-operated laundromat out of his building and in the 1970’s also had Mr. Soft Drink – Pic-a-Pop operation on the premises. 

Deep Dive

Coronation (not that one)

Cochrane Advocate 1911 curated by Gordon Davies

May 18, 1911 

Polo was out of the question last Saturday owing to the rain, but no one felt inclined to grumble considering the benefits the country was deriving from the down pour. 

Rain fell steadily on Friday afternoon last and up to noon on Saturday, and again on Monday and Tuesday this week. The nights are mild and it is altogether ideal growing weather. 

The Cochrane Hotel bar, which has been closed for about two weeks while the house has been thoroughly cleaned from top to bottom and various repairs Inside by order of the Chief License Inspector, was reopened yesterday afternoon. New floors have been put down in the bar, kitchen and dining room, a separate chimney is to be built at once for the kitchen, and the panelling of the house is to be newly varnished. The expense of all this of course falls upon Ed. Ellis, the owner of the building. 

Coronation Festivities 

The meeting at the Orange Hall called for Saturday last, for the purpose of arranging our local celebration of the Coronation of King George V., was duly held, though naturally the number present was small owing to the weather. A. Chapman was voted to the chair and J. Andison undertook the duties of secretary. 

In a general discussion which opened the proceedings Mr. O. A. Critchley called attention to the fact that the Millarville race meeting takes place on Coronation Day, which might affect the success of our plans, whereupon the Rev. Mr. Claxton suggested that the celebration should be postponed to Ist. July, Dominion Day. The idea of a combined commemoration of two distinct events not seeming to meet with approval, Mr. Critchley moved that 22nd June should be adhered to, and this was carried. 

It being generally agreed that it is desirable to impress such an event as the Coronation of a new Sovereign on the minds and memories of the rising generation, the children of the village and district, it was decided to organise something in the shape of sports and picnic for the Young people, and a committee of five was appointed to draw up a programme. The members are Messrs. J. G. Tweed, A. Chapman, E. Andison, S. Peyto and J.E. Laird, the latter of whom was not present to accept his nomination.


Mr. Tweed suggested if that, while Entertainment of the children might be the feature of the day, a concert, supper and dance should be added for the grown up population in the evening. This proposal brought up the question of finance and the appointment of further committees to deal with that and other matters. Considering that the small attendance — about 20 — did not justify going further at the moment, the meeting was adjourned to Friday, 19th inst. (tomorrow), at 7 p.m. It is to be hoped that neither weather nor other adverse circumstances may prevent a large number of well wishes to the project being present. The assistance of out of town sympathizers will be welcome. 

The Sport Committee met on Tuesday evening and Drew up a programme which will be submitted to the meeting to-morrow night. The pupils of neighbouring schools within reasonable distance will be invited to attend the Gala, which will probable take place on the football ground.

Deep Dive

The Cochrane Advocate

by M.E. Spicer Big Hill Country pg 175 1977

The Cochrane Advocate began publication in March 1909 with Mr. J. Mewhort as the owner and editor. The office was located in the Fisher Block. 

It was in no way an outstanding small-town newspaper but it helped to form communication between the rural folk and the townspeople. In the course of its existence, which was sixteen years, it had fourteen editors. Nearly all of them owned the paper, and nearly all of them went bankrupt. 

For five years from 1909 until 1914, the Advocate consisted of eight pages, six of which were known as “Boiler Plate”; that meant the six pages were prepared and set up in print by outside concerns. The editor set up two pages of local news and advertisements. The local news occupied two or three columns and took the form of a series of short paragraphs each dealing with a separate topic. The remainder of the front page was devoted to advertisements of the local merchants, the back page carried announcements of strayed animals, livestock for sale, and general notices from local ranchers and farmers. Occasionally an editorial on a local matter was included, depending on the political tendencies of the editor.

The Cochrane Advocate
The Cochrane Advocate

The townspeople were pretty much Liberal and the rural folk were a mixture of politics depending on which area one was living in, but for sure it was a two-party area for many years. Some of the editors got in real trouble expressing their opinions during the Liberal reign in Alberta. There was freedom of the press but only if an editor was careful and did not get carried away with his opinions. The paper was printed weekly, on Thursdays, and was sold by subscription at $1.00 per year. There is no record of circulation because no editor or owner had it very long. Around 1920 the subscription was raised to $2.00 a year. 

In October 1909 C. N. Austin, a homesteader in the Jumping Pound area, sold his homestead and bought the Advocate. He tried to put out his paper something along the lines of Bob Edwards’ Eye Opener; like Bob, he too believed in “Spirits”, the kind that were kept in bottles. He did his best editorials when he was under the influence of the “spirits” but his remarks concerning some of the politicians in the village did not go over too well and within two years he was forced to go out of business. From 1911 to 1927 when the printing press and office were destroyed by fire, no one editor or owner lasted more than three years and the most of them only a few months. Some of the other editors and owners up until 1927 were: W. Strickland, R. Whitfield, W. A. McKenzie, F. C. Atkinson, A. Taylor, Mr. Downey, A. C. Hathaway, Hugh Farthing, and Alwyn Gissing.

Cochrane Rodeo 

By C. D. La NAUZE, Calgary, Alta. 

COCHRANE district has long been the home of good sportsmen. Many years ago it had its own polo team, and many of us remember that splendid mile race track that the Rhodes brothers owned just west of the town and now a fine wheat field. The last occasion this track was operated was in the fall of 1931 when we saw apprentice Johnny Longden ride most of the winners over the thundering turf there. 

Cochrane, still true to form, put on another event on October 1st in the shape of a fall rodeo. A rodeo is a new departure for Cochrane, but the support it received is a good omen for further shows in 1950. 

The setting for the event was ideal. It was up in the hills on the Cook Ranch on Horse Creek about five miles northwest of town. It was a beautiful early October afternoon as we drove through a gate onto the grounds. At first, we could see nothing, but as we moved down a gentle slope we saw, nestled in the coulee below, the nicest little rodeo arena in a natural amphitheater. The poplars and brush showed bronze and golden flames of color on the banks of the creek, and to the south, a glimpse of the dark blue Rockies peeped through these winding foothills. 

It was fitting that Mr. J. J. Bowlen, an old rider and rancher, should open the rodeo and dedicate the program to the pioneers who made the Cochrane district. 

The rodeo itself was not pretentious, but it drew a crowd of over a thousand and was a well-managed local effort with never a dull moment and just enough of it to pass a pleasant afternoon. 

Twenty-one riders had a go at Gingrich’s string of bucking horses and Allen Brown of Sundre put up a splendid ride to win the saddle event. Bill McLean of Kitscoty rode into second place, with Wally Lindstrom of Airdrie third and Reg Kessler of Rosemary fourth. 

The bareback bucking horse event was fair. First money went to Ralph Thompson of Black Diamond. First and second money in steer riding also went to Harry and Ralph Thompson. 

The steer decorating was really good and the gladiators had a difficult task in this somewhat circular arena, but they showed great courage against powerful steers and many were the upsets on both sides. Harold Crowchild of the Sarcee Indians was a speedy winner in eight seconds, with George Nelson of Queens town second and Wilf Gerlitz of Cochrane third. 

There was no calf roping. The judges were Cameron Lansdell of Turner Valley and Fred Galarneau of Finnegan. Mr. Ballantyne of Cochrane was announcer. 

Some spectators might have thought they should have had a closer view of the events but in reality they were just as close to the fun as if they had been sitting at Victoria Park. 

Events were concluded in good time as darkening shadows and a cool wind stole over the coulee. Then a long procession of cars, trucks, Indian wagons and led horses climbed out of the hollow in an orderly fashion and slipped down the hills towards Cochrane, a town once again in the sporting world.

Deep Dive

Lodgings and Hotels

Pg 24 More Big Hill Country 2009

Accommodations by Gordon Davies

Mr. W.H. Elliot’s Hotel 

In 1886 Walter Elliot built a small hotel on the corner of First Avenue and First Street West and in 1892 it was enlarged by John Pedeprat. Mr. Elliot rented the Hotel to John Doyle who was in charge when it burned in 1896. 

Murphy Brothers Hotel (Alberta Hotel) 

In 1898, Joe and Jim Murphy built a Hotel on the site where Elliot’s hotel had been. The Murphy brothers operated their hotel until 1905 when they rented it out. W.J Simpson was operating the Hotel in 1909 and Mr. William Dean bought it in 1911, renaming it the Alberta Hotel. At various times the following people were operating the Hotel: Mr. H. Thomsen, 1920, Mr. H. Spears, 1923 and in 1924, at the end of prohibition, the proprietor applied for a beer license. Mr. J.W. Bishop operated the hotel in 1925 and J.W. Dickens in 1927 when the hotel burned down. 

Cochrane Hotel (Brick Hotel, Rockyview Hotel) 

In 1904, Mr. C.M. Burnham helped to build the Cochrane Hotel and managed it for a while. This Hotel was originally a clapboard building later to be covered in brick. In 1908, D. Alexander bought and ran the Hotel. In 1912 the hotel was managed by H. Moulu and then W. H. Tepley became the manager. In 1916, the Hotel was closed due to Prohibition and the assets were seized for non-payment of taxes. Mr. R.A. Webster

bought the hotel at this time from Mr. D. Alexander and set up the People’s Cash Store on the one side of the main floor, the site of the old saloon. Miss Ruth Webster also had a Tea Room in the Hotel. In 1921, Mr. Webster sold the Hotel to the United Farmer’s of Alberta but had to take it back in 1923. The Hotel reopened with the end of prohibition in 1924. Mr. Bailie, who was operating a bakery in the hotel moved it to the Fisher Block. From 1927 until 1936, the hotel owner was Mr. Dickinson and in 1937, Mr. Pruett took over the operation of the Hotel until 1946. In 1989, the Hotel was bought by John and Marlene Ursalak, restored, renamed the Rockyview Hotel, and is still operating today. 

Ben’s Cozy Cabins 

In 1910, Mr. B. Marchmont operated a Boarding House on Main Street where Graham’s Pharmacy Building is today (corner of 2nd Ave.) There is speculation that it originally was a shack built for the families of ranchers who stayed in town so that their children could attend school. It is also thought that it may be the building that housed Yee Lee’s Laundry. Mr. Marchmont later moved to the N.E. corner of First Avenue and Second Street West. It is possible that this was originally the Martin and Foley Store. According to the newspapers of the day, Mr. Marchmont was a wonderful cook and the lodgings were very comfortable. This house later belonged to the Longbotham family. 

Texaco Cabins 

In 1939, Mr. Graeme Broatch had about eight cabins built to the west of his Texaco Garage because the garage and the cabins were on the main highway from Calgary to Banff at the time and some tourists would stay in Cochrane overnight, particularly during Stampede week. After 1945, the cabins tended to become permanent lodgings for a number of people, particularly seismic crews. 

Cochrane Main Street 1957

Nelson’s Cabins (McLeod Cabins) 

In the 1940’s Mr. H. Nelson purchased the land and buildings which formerly housed the Murphy Livery Stable. A house and tourist cabins were built using some of the lumber from the livery stable. Other buildings were moved onto the site to be used as cabins and in the case of the Texaco, Cabins tended to be inhabited mostly on a permanent basis. Mr. J. McLeod later took over the property as well as selling real estate and insurance. 

Mrs. Steel 

After the death of her husband, Mrs. Steel bought a home from Mr. R.A.Webster on the N.E. corner of Second Avenue and Second Street West. She operated a Boarding House for many years with Mr. C. Pedeprat living there for over 30 years. After the death of Mrs. Steel, her daughter Peggy continued to operate the Boarding House until the 1970’s 

Miss Gillies Boarding House 

Miss Gillies also operated a Boarding house in her home. 

The Town I Like the Best by R. Tony Turner

(age 10) (written 1964) 

The town I like the best Is very, very small 

It sits below a hill That is very, very tall. 

The town I like the best Has a river flowing near. The river flows so swiftly It fills me full of fear. 

The town I like the best Has an old community hall Its not very big 

But you can sure have a ball. 

The town I like the best 

Has two different schools: 

One on the Hill and the other downtown And they keep so strict the rules. 

The town I like the best 

Gives me a sweetened touch 

The Big Hills above 

Hold Cochrane in its clutch.

History of Cochrane Businesses

pg 23 More Big Hill Country 2009

With the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) railway across this vast country of Canada, the location of many of the towns and cities of today were established. 

In the early years when the Rev’s John and George McDougall arrived at the location on which they decided to establish the Methodist mission, in 1875 there were few inhabitants in the Western part of Canada except the native Indian (sic) tribes. Morleyville was established and subsequently surveyed which brought settlers from the eastern parts of Canada. These people, many of them friends and associates of the McDougalls began farming and setting up places of their own to apply their skills and services to the Mission. Thus Morleyville became the stopping area for supplies and the centre for the Stony (sic) Indians and a few settlers in this part of the country. 

As the large leasehold ranches such as the Cochrane Ranche, were established in the early 1880s and the arrival of the railway more people and industry started up. Tom and Lady Adela Cochrane moved into the area east of Morleyville but on the south side of the Bow River in 1883. Tom proceeded to build a sawmill, a store, a hotel and other necessary buildings such as a saloon in a very vast and beautiful country. This area became known as Mitford, in Rupert’s Land and more people moved in.  

Although Fort Calgary was set up at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers, due to distance and the mode of transportation was on foot, horseback, or team and wagon, the settlers only went as far as they could go in one day and get back home. Consequently, supplies were purchased or traded for many years at Morleyville or Mitford for the few families that were here at that time. Morleyville was a good service place for the settlers on the north side of the Bow River and Mitford serviced the settlers south of the Bow. Eventually Tom Cochrane built his toll bridge across the Bow and crossing the river became more popular. The train stopped daily in Mitford for a few years but due to the location of the townsite, it was deemed easier and safer to stop at Cochrane. 

Although the railway came through in 1883, it was seventeen years before Cochrane remained more than a siding. The CPR station was the first building in Cochrane siding located on the south side of the present tracks and just east of the Elevator. The Section house was built shortly after. The town of Mitford was abandoned and many of the businessmen moved to Cochrane. The breakup of the large land leases after 1900 brought many more people into the west country to homestead for very little money. 

Businesses started up as the needs of the people became known. The following is a history of many of the businesses that are part of the history of Cochrane. 

Our series on the businesses begins April 15th

The Morleyville Settlement

by Jean L. Johnson Re-printed from Big Hill Country Pg 8 2009

The tract of land known as Morleyville Settlement lies along both sides of what is now 1A Highway, between the Ghost River on the east and the Stony (sic) Indian Reserve on the west. Its north boundary runs through the centre of Twp 26 Rge 6 W5M and extends one mile west of the range line. Before the official rectangular survey reached the area, Morleyville Settlement was laid out in long lots of different widths and acreages, all fronting on the Bow River. The Settlement was six miles wide and the lots, from west to east, were numbered 1A to 9, making ten in all. 

In 1865 the Rev. George McDougall visited the Stony Indians on the Bow River, and in 1873, he and his son, the Rev. John McDougall, established a mission there, first, up on the hill beside the Hudson’s Bay Post but shortly after, on the flats just north of the Bow. Another son, David, opened a trading post and began setting up a ranch. With the McDougalls came their wives and families, their assistants and workers. Thus, a small village had gathered around the Mission a year before the N.W.M.P. started West. In 1875 Andrew Sibbald and his family came from Ontario and a school was built with Andrew Sibbald both builder and teacher. The McDougall ranching operation predated the arrival of the Cochrane Ranche herds by almost a decade, for John and David brought with them from Fort Edmonton a band of fifty horses and cattle. The following year they bought one hundred head of cattle in Montana.

In the early days, letters came addressed: Millward Post Office, Morleyville, Northwest Territories. The Millward Post Office was in David McDougall’s Trading Post and the Millward Cemetery was close by, just west of Jacob Creek. The name came from that of the Rev. George Millward McDougall, just as the name “Morley” is found in that of Dr. William Morley Punshon, President of the Conference of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Canada. 

The McDougalls were the founders of the  Morleyville Settlement. Their long experience in the West, their creditable achievements and their boundless self-assurance inspired confidence in their relatives. and acquaintances. And so they were followed to Morleyville, not only by relatives, but by many from Cobourg, Ontario, where the McDougalls had attended college, and by people whom they met in Winnipeg on their trips to that town for supplies. Some of these took up land north of Morleyville Settlement although better land was available farther east. 

The McDougalls had great influence among the Indians. Their intrepidity and physical prowess impressed the Stoneys who admired anyone who could equal them in their own pursuits. The Rev. John McDougall was largely responsible for the formation of the Stony (sic) Reserve. All the Stony (sic) Indians hunted along the eastern part of the Rocky Mountains and the foothills, but each of the three bands once had its own territory when the hunt was over. The Chiniki Band was on the Bow River, the Bearspaw Band was on the upper reaches of the Highwood River and the Kichipwot or Jacob Band (Wesley) claimed the Kootenay Plains on the North Saskatchewan. John McDougall brought the three bands together at Morley.

Deep Dive

Cochrane Advocate April 1917 1924

Gordon Davies has curated interesting articles from the Cochrane Advocate from April 1917 through 1924. Photos are from CHAPS’ archive.

April 5, 1917 

R.A. Webster has purchased the property known as the Cochrane Hotels (Rockyview Hotel). He will remodel the building, and the west half will be occupied by J. Baillie as a bakery and confectionery store. 

Seven years ago Tom Quigley introduced the village to its first motor car, and it was looked upon with curiosity and considerable suspicion. Things have changed during these years, and today the moderate priced car is no longer considered a luxury but a necessity on every ranch and farm. Tom is busy doing Ford missionary work, and reports three deliveries for this week. They are Geo. Raby & Son, Ben Henry and Alex McKay

Rockyview Hotel
Quigley Garage

April 19, 1917 

The road gang is doing the first work of the season on the hill east of town. 

In looking up the car owners in his territory south of the river the other day, Tom Quigley found that there were 29 cars in the Springbank and Jumping Pound districts. Of this surprising number 25 are Fords, which goes to show what the people in the south think of the Ford car and their service. 

Proposed Summer Schedule 

The following is the proposed new schedule of the C. P. R. timetable as it will affect Cochrane, and which will come into force on June 3rd at 24.01 a.m. The time may be changed a few minutes either way: 


Cochrane Train Station
  • Toronto-Vancouver Express 
  • Train No.3 arrives at Cochrane at about 18 o’clock. 
  • Train No. 4 arrives at about 12.25. 
  • Soo-Seattle Express 
  • Train No. 13 arrives in Cochrane at 6 a.m. 
  • Train No. 14 at 21:20. 
  • The Imperial Limited will not stop at Cochrane, and its time from g Calgary will be as follows: Going west at 2:40 a.m., and going east arrives at Calgary at 2:05 a.m. 
  • All eastbound trains are even-numbered and westbound are odd-numbered. 
  • The Calgary Glacier Daily will arrive in Cochrane at 8:20 a.m. going west, returning in the evening arriving back in Cochrane at 19:50. 
Collins Brickyard, Cochrane, AB

April 3, 1919 

Peter Collins is shipping five cars of brick this week. Mr. Collins anticipates starting his brick plant sometime during this season which will be quite a boon for Cochrane after five years of idleness. 

April 22, 1920 

The ashes are now being hauled and placed on the streets where required to alleviate the mud situation considerably, adding much to the pleasure of pedestrians and ease of vehicular traffic. 

April 22, 1920 

The weather has been somewhat cold, unsettled and stormy so far this week, with more snow. Looks like it will soon clear up and become warmer, at least all hope so. 

April 21, 1921 

Football, Baseball and Tennis 

Cochrane Football club appears to have a reasonable certainty of a successful season ahead. There is a fair sprinkling of talent in town and in the district which should shortly be augmented when the quarry and the brickyard are in full operation. Several enthusiasts around town are hoping soon to have a strong team lined up. It is time for the club to get together and start the season right. For this purpose it is suggested a meeting might be called and some schedule drawn 

There are rumors of a baseball team around town, but so far no definite steps towards organization have been taken. There are plenty of players in town but not enough turn our for practice. 

The tennis court over the track is being fixed up for the season. 

Men's Baseball 1946

April 21, 1921 

P. Collins was up from Calgary on Tuesday for the purpose of getting the brickyard west of town into full working order. It is opening up next week, employing 25 men and should help a great deal towards bringing a full measure of prosperity this year to Cochrane.,

April 6, 1922 

The bitter cold of the early part of last week has given place to brilliant sunshine and we feel confident that the long dreary winter has come to an end and spring is here at last. Evidence of this is not lacking when one observes the increase in business activity and farming operations in Cochrane and the surrounding district. 

April 20, 1922 

Another severe blizzard – one of the worst, in fact, that has been experienced here for many years, swept over this section of Alberta last Wednesday. Driven by a high wind from the northeast, the snow piled up into immense drifts, and many trails in the neighborhood of Cochrane are even yet quite impassable. While the snow, which was of the heavy, wet variety, has no doubt done considerable good in the southern part of the province, it is feared that losses among the stock in the range country will be very heavy, though, on account of the depth of the drifts, it is impossible to make any estimate at the present time. Lethbridge reports a total precipitation this month to date of 1.67 as against a 20-year average for April of only .84 inches. 

April 27, 1922 

To prophesy, or even suggest, what the weather may be for the next 24 hours would, at the time of going to press, be the greatest folly, so we will say nothing about it, except to mention that we have surely been treated to a great variety of the weather man’s wares, including a very general application of sleet, snow, occasional sunshine, mingled with cold spells, warm spells, and nearly every kind of spell but an epileptic fit. However, we cannot complain of lack of moisture, and with all this stored away in the soil, we should be off to a start such as we have not had for some time. 

April 3, 1924 

If you are thinking of cranking up the car and running into Calgary think again and take the train. The roads are almost impassable. 

April 24, 1924 

Over a foot of snow fell in the district on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. This is the second heavy fall this month and though the moisture is welcome, the snow is seriously delaying the commencement of farming operations all over this section of Alberta.

History of All Saints began in Mitford

pg 44 A A Peep into the Past Vol.1 1990 Belle and Gordon Hall

The little white church among the tall evergreens is located on the corner of 2nd Ave. and 2nd St. N.W. Cochrane, opposite the town administration centre. It was originally built at Mitford by the Hon. Thomas and Lady Adela Cochrane in 1892 with wood from native trees. Stained glass windows, and financial help came from England, and the furnishings of the church from friends and relatives. The Hon. Thomas and Lady Adela Cochrane were an entirely different family of Cochrane’s than those who started the Cochrane Ranche, hence the name Cochrane. 


The Ranche Cochranes were from Quebec, where Matthew Henry Cochrane was a senator and a renowned cattle breeder. These Cochranes were here about 1881, whereas the Mitford Cochranes arrived about 10 years later, so on All Saints Day, Nov. 1 1892, the church at Mitford was consecrated to the glory of God and all saints by Bishop Cyprain Pinkham of Calgary. 

After about two years at Mitford, the business declined, mainly because the CPR didn’t like the spot, as it was hard to get their trains started because of the incline or steeper grade. Mitford became a ghost town, the Hon. Thomas and Lady Adela Cochrane returned to England and the little church was left alone. The vestry asked permission to move the church to Cochrane. Permission was given. The church was dragged across the flats, by 12 teams of horses with logs for rollers, until they came to the Big Hill Creek, which had to be crossed, and I understand it was quite a task getting it across. 

The Anglican church is depicted in an 1895 photograph along with the Catholic church which must have been built in the early 1890s also. In 1905 the church was put on a cement foundation and in 1914 electric lights were installed. I remember the old heater that was in the church. It was in the west end or front of the church. The chimney was in the east end or northeast corner, so it seemed the stovepipe, in sections of course, must have run about 40 feet. It was held up by baling wire in various spots. 

I was sentry of the vestry in the late 1940s and we raised enough money to reshingle the roof. This cost $600 and was done by Sydney Reed and Thomas Beattie. I remember Stanley Cope had shot two timber wolves and the bounty was $50 so he gave us the bounty money for shingles. In 1956 Cochrane became part of the parish of Exshaw and Canmore until the more recent time when we have a resident incumbent.

Deep Dive

Religion in Cochrane Area by Gordon Davies

St. Mary’s has had an interesting history

pg 45 A Peep into the Past Vol 1 1990 Belle and Gordon Hall

St. Mary’s Parish, Cochrane has had three churches in its history. The first built by Father Comire was erected in 1895. That building can now be found in reconstructed form as a small chapel on the grounds of Mount St. Francis Retreat House, Cochrane. The original first church was heated by an oil stove and its church bells were used on the second church where the library is now. The first marriage to take place in the first church was between George Phipps and Joanne McDonald in 1908 by Father Hermes O.M. They were the parents of Jack Phipps, a longtime resident of Cochrane. 

The first funeral was that of Mrs. M. McDonald, the grandmother of Jack Phipps and the first to be buried in the present Catholic cemetery. For many years Francis Leo Gainer and his daughter Sylvia were the organists of the church. F.L. Gainer was noted for his singing at various functions. 

The second church, which was the building that now houses the library, was opened on March 8, 1959 with Father Edwin Kueffler O.F.M. as the first pastor. At about the same time a new cathedral for the diocese of Calgary was built in Calgary and some of the stained glass windows of the old cathedral were removed to the second church. For a number of years, Mrs. Peggy Robertson was the organist of the second church. Its rectory was eventually removed after a number of skirmishes with trucks and kindred vehicles. It was moved to a lot northwest of Rebekah Hall and was occupied by Martin and Catherine Hansen for a number of years. It was torn down to make way for commercial buildings. 

The Oblate Fathers looked after the parish from 1895 to 1922, Father Hermes of the Oblates had the longest tenure as pastor from 1907 to 1922. Father Hermes was also an avid curler and the little black rocks that he used to use were at the curling rink for many years and it is a shame they were not preserved. 

The Diocesan priests cared for the parish from 1922 to 1940, only to have the Oblates return for the short period 1940-47. 

The Diocese looked after the parish again until 1949, then it was turned over to the care of Franciscan Fathers of the Retreat House up to 1970. For many years the priest from Cochrane would say mass once a month for the people of the Bottrel area, using the old Westbrook School. Father Lessard O.M.I. was the first and Monsignor Le Fort the last. In recent years the third church has been built on the hill overlooking Cochrane.

Deep Dive

Religion in Cochrane Area by Gordon Davies

Hats off to days gone by in Cochrane

pg 36 A Peep into the Past Vol.1 1990 Belle and Gordon Hall

In the early days, a man was known for the hat he wore. When a man took his hat off 50 years ago, ranchers or outdoorsmen especially would be tanned a dark oak color except where the hat brim sat, then there would be a sharp contrast as the head, which was usually bald was snow white, never seeing the sun. Bachelors mostly never took their hats off, even in the house. 

Some ranchers and farmers wore the same old stetson hat for years and could tell who it was a great distance away by the hat. Then there were women’s hats. My mother had one which was black and decorated with ostrich feathers. The feathers were dyed in different colors. Mother had one purple and several black and white feathers. These were about two feet long and three or four inches wide. This conglomerate was held onto her head by hat pins. Mother had two or three hat pins, they were about eight inches long and sharp at the end. On the other end was a knob about the size of a marble. 

There was a one-eyed man in town who was supposed to have had his eye put out by a hat pin. He was supposed to have been looking through the keyhole in the door to a ladies’ boudoir, when she poked a hatpin through the keyhole and put out his eye. 

Most school kids wore toques, knitted mostly. We would pull them down in front and then up over the eyes, this gave better ear protection. Some of the storekeepers wore hats or caps at work, along with black arm socks or whatever they were called. When you met a lady on the street, the polite way to greet her was to tip your hat or if stopping to chat, take the hat off. Today there are very few hats worn except by older men and women. The trend has been to long hair and no headgear. 

In the days gone by it used to amuse me to see some farmers coming to town. Some would have a fur coat and a straw hat on or a fur hat and no coat at all. Boy Scouts had the Baden-Powell hat, also the Mounted Police. They looked real smart. This has gone out the window, at least for the scouts. The trend now seems to be the old ski cap types for men and boys, with some kind of logo on the front. 

Deep Dive

Cochrane AB Photo courtesy of Internet Archive

Postcards from the Past

Doing some research to answer a recent question from a reader, we came across the Internet Archive site. It has some interesting postcards from the past.

This postcard has been hand colorized as was often done on old photos.

The MacKay building center image.

Cochrane looking west. This photo taken after the construction of the Elevator.

I was not aware there was an earlier location of the Creamery. The location I was aware of was slightly west of the current Cochrane Historical Museum.

Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre

A very popular meeting place since it was one of the first to allow Men and Women in the same area of the Bar.

Old Car provided Transportation, Adventure

pg 26 A Peep into the Past Vol 1 Belle and Gordon Hall

The first motor car in the Cochrane area was a small steam car owned by the Cochrane Ranch, It was brought into Alberta in 1903 by W.F. (Billy) Cochrane, who at the time resided at High River. Joe Boston was the first to have a car in Grand Valley. In 1907 he bought a 1907 Maxwell two-cylinder touring car. 

1907 Maxwell RL Tourabout, photo courtesy

When Joe came to a hill he turned the Maxwell around and backed up. The car was sold to Ken Cohoe for $10 in 1945 and it is now in the Stan Reynold’s Museum in Wetaskiwin. The Maxwell had a top speed of 10-15 miles per hour, but no power on the hills.

Unknown location

The Quigleys had the first garage in Cochrane and sold Ford cars. The garage was later made into a house, now being lived in by Mrs. Barbara Coutts. The Chapman Brothers built a garage here in 1918 and sold Chevrolet cars. Chas Grayson started the Imperial Oil Bulk station and delivered gas to the garages with a dray pulled by a big grey horse. Chas had a 100-gallon tank to haul the gas in. He could pull the tank off and on the dray as it was not very big. 

Chapmans Garage 1920s courtesy Glenbow Archives

Gas was dispensed by early service stations by pail. The gas in the pail was poured into a funnel covered by a chamois cloth or hide to catch dirt and water. Gas tanks on the Model T Fords were under the front seat. After removing the seat, gas was measured by dipping a stick into the tank. It was graduated in inches and by the depth of the gas it told how much gas you had left. Then came the gravity pumps for gas a glass bowl at a height of about six feet, with a handle that the attendent pumped gas into the bowl of the pump. Then it was gravity-fed into the gas tanks. Oil was kept in glass bottles with a spout and were filled from oil barrels. The weight of oil required was marked on the bottle. Then of course, canned oil came along. Now oil is in plastic containers. 

Car tires were a big item. Everyone carried a kit to fix tubes. A hot patch was required at first and most people carried a device the tube was patched and clamped to. Fired by alcohol, these devices were quite dangerous. Then came the cold patch which was much better. It was common to see someone on the side of the road patching his tires. 

Deep dive

2022 AGM Larry Want Bernice Klotz

2022 Presidents Message


The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching impacts, including threatening the future of ours and other small-town museums. These museums are full of history, passion, and unique artifacts, but they are in peril. One threat is that the digital world is making museums less relevant. When the museum posts pictures on line, there’s less need for people to go visit them in person. Our museum has some artifacts that can’t be transferred to the online world. And then the pandemic shut us down, CHAPS had the good fortune to have received a large bequest from the Lambert estate which has protected us from the “small town economic threat”. 

There seems to be a generational divide, regardless of the pandemic, where a lot of small local museums are run by older people. And the next generation doesn’t seem to be coming to take over. Volunteers have become more important than ever to keeping our small town Cochrane museum alive.The CHM is lucky to have extraordinary volunteers who help with everything, special events, setting up displays, cataloguing artifacts, researching and helping with administrative tasks. Thank you. 

There is a type of “beauty” in our small town Cochrane museum. It is like sharing family albums. Rather than each family storing memories in attics or barns and losing them to time, they bring their collective history to us. Nothing captures Cochranes small town character, soul and past like our CHM. From purchasing a membership to supporting our local history, to volunteering, discovering your own history through research or waiting and sharing our local history, if you care about or want to learn more about our shared history, you need to become a member today. 

Thank you, 

Larry Want 



Become a Member

If you care about or want to learn more about our shared history, you need to become a member today.

Before the railway, supplies came from Fort Benton, Montana

Before the railway, supplies came from Fort Benton, Montana. Fort Benton is on the Missouri River allowing steamboats to supply goods needed for the opening of the West.

Several of our articles have mentioned Fort Benton. The Wilson, Sibbald, and Kerfoot family articles all mention this important hub. (follow the link in Deep Dive below) Fort Benton was the source of the “Whoop-Up” Trail into Alberta and the Fort Walsh Trail into Saskatchewan. Click on the following map to expand.

Fort Benton Map to Cochrane
Fort Benton Map to Cochrane

Be sure to watch the Fort “Whoop Up” Orientation video in the link below.

Deep Dive

Calgary lumber came from Kananaskis

pg 55 A Peep into the Past Vol. 1 Belle and Gordon Hall

At the turn of the century when Calgary was booming, its lumber had to come from somewhere. That somewhere happened to be Kananaskis Country. The logs were put in the Kananaskis River and floated down it to the river’s entry into the Bow where they went on down to Calgary. Here they were caught by a weir and went into the saws at the Eau Claire sawmills. The mills were located close to where Louise Bridge is now. 

In 1909 the Seebe Power Dam was built and this stopped the log flow from the Kananaskis as that river ran into the Bow above the Seebe Dam. Eau Claire then changed their logging to the Ghost River area. At Meadow Creek and Waiparus Creek there were small dams built to hold back water to form a small lake of about 1-2 acres. This was done in the fall of the year, so that when freeze up came, the loggers had a frozen pond on which to pile their logs. 

In the spring when the thaw came, they opened the dam and the ice melted and the logs went down the river. The Waiparus Creek drained into the main Ghost and down emptying into the Bow. When the logs had disappeared downstream, a clean-up crew followed them. These were known as log drive camps. The camp would consist of usually 10 men, with two teams of horses and a boat. Their job was to send logs down the river which had hung up com shore, often there were log jams on the small islands. Dynamite sometimes had to be used to blow these dams apart. The logs were all stamped with a metal stamp “EC”. These stamps were on a handle, so when they hit the end of a log, the stamp was embedded in the wood. Some claimed that if cut a Eau Clair log in half, you could still see the print of the stamp. This was meant to stop stealing of EC logs, I presume. 

Ghost Dam Glenbow UofC Archives

Then in 1929 the Ghost Dam was built and that put an end to the log drives, as the Ghost River ran into the Ghost Reservoir and there was no way to get logs over the dam. Another part of the past that is just memory. 

In 1937 when I was big game hunting northwest of Sundre in the James River area, we ran across an old wood dam across the James River. We also found the old bunkhouses and log cabins. Returning to Sundre, we inquired about the story from oldtimers. It seems the Great West Logging Company had built the camp and dam in 1916. They were following the plan of Eau Claire Co. to float the logs down the James to the Big Red River. I never did find out where their mill was situated. Anyway, the logs got away on them and the story was that all the farmers from Sundre east through Red Deer and Drumheller, all had new log barns. I saw one of the barns near Fish Lake, east of Drumheller, in later years. I took some pictures of the old dam and they were printed in the Sundre paper. 

Deep dive

Elizabeth Barrett Grave site Morley AB - Hamish-Kerfoot

Thanks to our Readers – Elizabeth Barrett Post

One of our recent social media posts to celebrate Women’s History Month was on the contribution of Elizabeth Barrett to Alberta’s history. Several of our readers contributed very interesting comments on that post.

First, Hamish McNaughton Kerfoot contributed this photo of Barrett’s gravesite. Her grave is described very well in our story: Elizabeth Barrett: First Woman Teacher in Alberta

Elizabeth Barrett Grave site Morley AB - Hamish-Kerfoot
Elizabeth Barrett Grave site Morley AB - Hamish-Kerfoot

Then, a couple of our readers mentioned their time attending Elizabeth Barrett school here in Cochrane. They recalled a song they used to sing. Thanks to Christina Lewis and Sandy Mackenzie-Goodsell for the song tip.

Intrigued, I contacted Shelly Tuck at Elizabeth Barrett school. She kindly passed me along to Cathy Brown who supplied the words and tune. Hopefully, a performance version will come too.

Elizabeth Barrett School Song:

At Elizabeth Barrett School we think caring is cool

and peacemakers are here, everywhere.

We learn to talk it out, that’s what school’s all about

Trying to show we care….

And we do believe, 

we can achieve, 

our goals will all be met.

Working together in a safe and caring way is best


At Elizabeth Barrett, we’re part of this whole family

Where everyone works together, to be the best that they can be.


CHAPS is grateful that people are reading about our rich history and care to add their memories. Be sure to come to our AGM Sunday. Memberships and Tickets to the fund raiser will be available.


March 12, 2023 2:00 PM FCSS Basement Boardroom
209 2nd Ave West
Bring a Friend

From the Cochrane Advocate March 1917-1924

compiled by Gordon Davies

March 18, 1913 

There is an unusual amount of interest centered around the forthcoming Bachelor’s Ball. Coming as it does during the festive week of Easter, preparations are being made for the accommodation of 300 guests. Those young eligibles are going to break not only all records, but their thraldom of bachelorhood, and pass over into the Promised Land. 

Gophers are now plentiful. We would like to remind auto drivers of an act that a humane government has passed, to the effect that drivers must carry a pick and shovel on their cars in order to give a decent funeral to any gophers they may run over. 

March 16, 1922 

Several people appeared in court before Mr. C. Grayson, J.PP. last Saturday, charged with infringing the Automobile Act. We would advise our readers who have not already done so, to see about a new number plate “toot sweet”. 

March 23, 1922 

The first two automobiles of the season to make the trip from Calgary to Banff passed through Cochrane on Friday afternoon. On their return last Sunday, they reported the trail quite passable, the only trouble they experienced on the whole trip was on the reserve west of Cochrane. 

March 30, 1922 

Somebody got busy and moved back the calendar back a month or two last week, with the result that Cochrane and district, after a spell of real spring weather, had been experiencing a very unpleasant selection of icy winds and severe cold, and in addition quite a quantity of snow has fallen. Saturday in particular was one of the worst days that we have had this winter, and a cold wind from the north and east, with driving snow, made it particularly unpleasant. The cattle and horses on the ranges are, without doubt, the greatest sufferers, and with the supply of hay running short the ranchers are beginning to wonder how long this cold spell is due to last.

March 18, 1920 

Some Storm 

The bad blizzard Sunday one of, if not the worst of the year put Cochrane in darkness Sunday evening. It was not until three p.m. Tuesday that power was available. 

March 13, 1924 

Cochrane C.G.I.T. 

The four Be’s of the C.G.I.T. wish to thank the people of Cochrane for their splendid support in the recent sell-a-star campaign. 

The girls collected $29.00 being an average of 7.25 stars per member, which entitled them to a Gold Honor Certificate. The banner was won by Carsland, with an average of 9.31 stars per member, while the Cochrane C.G.I.T. stood second in the province. 

The result of this campaign has been a great encouragement to the girls and leaders. Again, we thank you. 

March 20, 1924 

The Banff Highway 

Discussing the recent rumor that the course of the Banff highway would be changed to the south side of the river, Mr. Alex Moore, MLA stated, a few days ago, 

that the government contemplated no such action. An engineer had been sent out from Edmonton recently, to examine the feasibility of the southern route, but his report was very decidedly against any change being made. 

According to Mr. Moore, the programme for the coming session includes improvement work on 48 miles of the present highway, with particular attention to Cochrane Hill. 

March 1, 1917 

There has been several motor loads of people going to the city this week to see the war pictures that are being shown there. 

The Red Cross Society is holding a work, apron, and handkerchief sale on Saturday, March 31st. at their rooms. Refreshments will be served. The Society will be very thankful for any contributions of work, aprons, or handkerchiefs, and all members are asked to give one or more.

March 1, 1917 

The uses for a Ford car are increasing, and anyone who happened to be curious enough to look into Mr. Webster’s woodyard could have seen his Ford car pulling the buzz-saw, and doing it easy. Thos. Quigley and Mr. Webster have perfected a power attachment for the Ford which appears to be away ahead of anything ever tried out before, and those who have any notion of using their car for power should investigate this new attachment. 

March 8, 1917 

The Banff lady curlers came down off Tuesday afternoon to play a game with a team of the local club, but when they arrived the ice was too soft for play so they returned home that evening without having played a game. We’re awfully sorry ladies, but even Cochranites can’t seem to control the weather.

Deep Dive

A.W. MacDonald 1831-1927

by D.M. McDonald pg 324 Big Hill Country 1977

A.W. MacDonald was born in the northwestern highlands of Scotland in Invernesshire, a land as rugged as the inhabitants of this picturesque home of the clan MacDonald. Earning a living was either by being a gamekeeper, shepherd, or a crofter. A crofter was a tenant farmer of the large landowners who were either titled people or wealthy people called Lairds. 


MacDonald was an employee and also a crofter on land owned by a Laird MacDonnell. The Laird had dreams of a fortune to be made by trading with the Indians (sic) in far-off western Canada. He asked MacDonald to accompany him as an employee on this venture. In 1881 they sailed from Scotland for the United States where they sailed by riverboat up the Missouri River to Fort Benton, Montana. The Laird purchased four horses, a wagon, and all the goods and necessary articles they would need on their long journey on the trail to the banks of the Ghost River. They followed the route used by the I. G. Baker Company who were operating a trading post and supplying the N.W.M.P. in Calgary. 

After a journey of six months from the time they left Scotland, they arrived on the North Fork of the Ghost River north of Morley, Alberta. Here they built a trading post and spent the winter of 1881. In the spring of 1882, the Laird returned to Scotland and instructed MacDonald to meet him in Fort Benton in the spring of 1883 and to purchase more goods to trade. When MacDonald arrived in Fort Benton there was a 

Cochrane to Ft Benton

letter for him advising him the Laird was not going to return to Canada and that he was to keep all the Laird’s property as wages. It must have been quite a shock to a 53-year-old man, in a strange country, his family in far-off Scotland, with very little money and miles away from the Ghost River. He had no other choice but to return to Canada. To have embarked on such an undertaking in the first place at the age of 50 years, an age at which most of us think we have reached the twilight of our lives, speaks well of the courage of our ancestors. Starting an entirely new type of life in a far off land shows the true pioneering spirit of our forefathers. 

Upon his return to the Ghost River, he filed a homestead which he named Glenfinnan in remembrance of the birthplace of his wife in far-off Scotland. He worked hard, cutting hay which he sold to the construction crews that were building the C.P.R. He even hauled hay as far as Banff, no mean feat I would say. He raised a few cattle and by 1886 he had saved enough money to send for his family. 

Mrs. MacDonald was living on the banks of the loch near Arisaig, which is about 60 miles west of Fort William. She and her three daughters and three sons had to walk five miles around the loch where they had to be rowed out to the ship that was to take them to Canada. Their many friends and neighbours carried their belongings to the ship and wished them Godspeed on their journey. The children were, Margaret, age 20, later known as Maggie Robertson, wife of James Robertson; Jessie, age 19, later Mrs. Charlie Perry; Donald, age 18, later known as D.P. of the Mount Royal Ranch; Angus, age 14, who later homesteaded north of Cochrane; Alex, age 12, best known as Sandy and foreman of the last Cochrane Roundup, and Joanne, age 9, later Mrs. George Phipps. It must have been quite an experience looking after this brood on the long journey to Cochrane. Mr. MacDonald met them at Cochrane where they arrived on one of the first trains that were going to Vancouver. They arrived late in the evening and drove 20 miles to their new home. 

Mrs. MacDonald was born in 1836, and passed away in 1912. Shortly after her passing, and upon the death of his son-in-law, George Phipps, Mr. MacDonald sold the Glenfinnan to Doctor Muir. He and his daughter, Mrs. Joanne Phipps, and her two children, Agnes and Jack, moved to live with his son, Angus, who at that time was not married.

 In 1917 Mr. MacDonald purchased a house in the east end of the village of Cochrane where he, Mrs. Phipps and her two children lived until he passed away in his sleep on the 20th of February, 1927, at the age of 96. He had at no time in his life been ill and, till the very last, did not show any signs of being senile. 

It was men and women of the caliber of Mr. and Mrs. MacDonald that helped to develop this wonderful country of ours. It took a great deal of courage and faith in the future to bear the trials and tribulations that must have beset them. 

The last owner of the Glenfinnan was Hamish Begg. He sold the ranch to the Alberta Government who returned it to the Stoney Indians for road allowance rights on another part of the Morley Reserve. Truly a fitting end to the story of Mr. MacDonald. 

Deep Dive

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