Clarence and Irene Copithorne

Thanks to Donna Jordan Orr who has become a member of CHAPS and gotten involved in research by scanning this article from More Big Hill Country on Irene and Clarence Copithorne.

Clarence was the youngest son of Richard and Sophia Georgina (Wills) Copithorne and was born on November 12, 1920 in the little brick hospital in Cochrane, where Ed and Ruth Davies later made their home.

He was educated in the log school called the Little Jumping Pound about a four mile ride from home. When he arrived at school, he tied his horse to the bush and went into the school. Weather played a very big factor and in his home if it was twenty degrees below Fahrenheit you didn’t have to go to school, therefore the degrees on the thermometer were very important to a boy who was not academically inclined. Later the school was moved to within a half mile of his home so he walked to school.


Clarence did not remember his mother since she died when he was two years old. He was raised by his sisters Margaret and Annie. When his father died in April 1936 of a ruptured appendix it was a great blow to him. He was only 16 years old.


Sunday evenings, the family gathered around the piano for sing songs and often the neighbours, the Edge boys, Tom Bateman and others would gather together. Dave Lawson and Percy played the violin and Jack Copithorne played the drums for an entertaining fun evening. With his sisters he often went down to Jack Copithorne’s to listen to the hockey games on the radio which was a highlight for Clarence and made him a lifelong Toronto Maple Leafs fan. After the game they were treated to cake, cookies and cocoa by Jack’s wife Nan, part of the “good old days” that were really good!


The first public office he held was that of Secretary/Treasurer of the Jumping Pound Forestry Grazing Association, a position he held until 1971. Clarence joined the Masonic Lodge of King Solomon, in Cochrane and later became Master of the Lodge.


In 1946 Clarence married Irene Robertson, eldest daughter of Don and Yvonne Robertson of Calgary. They met while attending Olds School of Agriculture. Clarence and Irene set up their ranch headquarters on the Joe Clemens homestead on the Jumping Pound Creek.Clarence had started to build their home in September of 1945. It was a small two roomed house that they moved into, travelling across country from the main road near to his father’s homestead.


The first summer they were married Irene had a tough indoctrination into ranch life, with two hay crews and a crew of carpenters to cook for. As they were building a barn and then started on a new house which would become their permanent home, Irene cooked for 27 men all summer. Clarence often wondered why did not leave him at that point. It was either because 25 miles to Calgary was a long distance in those days and mobility, in the way of vehicles, was scarce plus the fact that Irene was not an enthusiastic horse back rider that she stayed as she didn’t care to walk. Maybe love was blind!!

Along with the busy life of setting up a home, planting trees and building all the things that go with constructing a ranch, there seemed to be a regular occurrence of children being born. Each year for three years one appeared. First Don, then Roy and Margery arrived. Then there was a two year gap and along came Wendy, then Jo-Anne and finally Sue.


The children were all normal healthy little ones and enjoyed many of the activities that their father did. They all competed in the local gymkhanas and Springbank 4-H Beef Club. Getting six children and six calves bathed and fitted for showing at one time proved to be quite a challenge. However they enjoyed every minute. Clarence at this time was active in the Cochrane Light Horse Association and served as President for two years.


Onward from 1946, Clarence was very active and involved in the Springbank Rural Electrification Association for which he served as President for 25 years. This was probably one of the most beneficial ideas devised “to help revolutionize the farming in Alberta.” He used to say, “It put the lights on in Rural Alberta.”


In the late 1950’s Clarence and some of his neighbours got into a hassle with Calgary Power over rights of land ownership. It started out as a dispute whether Calgary Power could expropriate land without notification to the owner. A most lengthy quarrel developed which ended up in the Supreme Court of Canada. The REA lost, however one bit of satisfaction they did have was that it was a compulsory case for all law students in Canada to study because of its extraordinary nature. After this case Clarence was involved with several expropriations with oil and gas companies in the area regarding pipelines and property rights. It seemed under the statutes, the decks were stacked against the farmers receiving a fair deal from expropriation procedures. Probably from the experience of these proceedings, vanity and anger crossed and one evening 40 or so neighbours arrived at his home and asked him to run for election in the 1967 Provincial Election in the Constituency of Banff/Cochrane. F.L. Gainor was retiring and so Clarence agreed to run as an Independent in the Banff/Cochrane Constituency. He was duly elected and joined the Alberta Government as an Independent representing Banff/Cochrane. In 1970 he joined the Conservatives to run in his second election after successfully winning again was appointed Minister of Highways and Transport.


When Clarence became involved in politics, his involvement in the many community affairs that he was committed to ended. After he took his oath of office as the newly appointed Minister of Highways and Transport, a reporter asked him “What qualified you to be the Minister of Highways?” Clarence answered “I was wondering the same thing but I have graded thousands of miles of road in Alberta with the bottom of my car and the face of my windshield and that is what qualified me to be the Minister of Highways.” It brought a great laugh from those who heard the story and the interview with the press was over for the first day.


On his retirement from politics Clarence formed the Cochrane Ranche Historical Society and was the ram-rod in getting the Ranche designated a historic site. He was able to see his dream of the Cochrane Ranche Historic Site officially opened on their 33rd Wedding Anniversary.

Clarence passed away on June 4th, 1979 in the Foothills Hospital after a lengthy illness.


Irene and Clarence’s family is as follows: Donald Gordon Copithorne married Patti Frederikson from Millet, Alberta where they still reside. They have three children; Brandon, Shane and Kaitlin. Don sells Real Estate.


Roy Adam Copithorne married Judy Lewis Eastend Eastend, Saskatchewan in 1975 and they have four children. Their daughter Bernadette married Hamish from New Zealand and son Malcolm Clarence, born 1982 is working on the ranch with his father. Daughter Beverley graduated from the University of Alberta with her Education Degree. Their youngest daughter Katy attended university in the Maritimes and is a Chef.


Margery Yvonne Copithorne married Robert “Bob” John Richmond in 1970 and they live in Fort Collins, Colorado. They have a daughter Carla Jean, born 1972 who married Kieren Stutley and they have a daughter December 6, 2005. Carla and Kieren and family live in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Margery and Bob have a son Clinton Robert born 1973 and he is single.


Wendy Irene Copithorne married David Neil Hawes and lived in and around Salmon Arm, British Columbia. They have two boys and one girl. Rhett David born 1976, is an Oil Rigger Manager. He married Kelly Clermont and they have a cute little boy, Evan David.


Wendy and Dave’s second son Tyler Neil, born 1978, is single and is a Rugby Star living in Alcante, Spain. Their daughter Shannon, born 1982 is single, lives in Springbank, Alberta and is very active in Barrel Racing. Wendy and Dave now live in Jumping Pound.


Jo-Anne Copithorne married Robert Hugh Paterson and they have two sons, Clarence Hugh born June 8, 1989 and David James born August 1, 1991. JoAnne and Rob and their family reside on the family ranch in the Jumping Pound district.


Lillian Susan Copithorne “Sue” married John Simpkin in 1975. They farm at Hamaruka, Alberta and have three children: Jillian Irene, Mark John and Emily Cecilia.


Irene still resides in the home that she and Clarence built when they were married. She enjoys entertaining, playing bridge and the company of her two grandsons, Clarence and David, who live close by her on the ranch with their parents.

Related articles

Copithorne, a true Alberta builder


Vern and Evelyn Lambert

By Evelyn (Beadle) Lambert More Big Hill Country

Having started his life in the Munson/Drumheller area, Vern and his brothers Ray and Gordon and their mother Daisy, took up residence in Springbank. Vern attended school in Bowness. 

On July 22, 1949, he arrived in the Cochrane area where he went to work with George Harrison at the Bar DL Ranch. Later on, he went logging with Bill Richards and from there to the Alf Scott Sawmill in Cochrane. In 1951 he, along with many other Cochrane men, worked on the construction of the Shell Jumping Pound Gas Plant, his foreman being Leonard (Shorty) Kinch. In 1951 Vern went to work for the Town of Cochrane, installing the sewer and waterworks, working with Jack Steel, Arthur Kirkland, George Morris and Ted Lee, to name a few. 

Vern and his brothers were very musical. In 1953 they started their own Country and Western Band which consisted of Vern, Ray, Gordon, Al McMahon and Fred Steinmetz at the beginning with Ted Westerson joining the Lambert Brothers later on. They played all around Alberta, keeping very busy every weekend. Finally, in July 1980 they decided to cease the band business. Then later on Vern played drums for George Fox for one year, before George moved down east. 

In 1954 Vern went to work for Precision Construction in Calgary, building and repairing buildings. His brother Ray and Ed Davies also worked there. 

In 1957 Vern and Ray started their own construction company (Lambert Brothers Construction). They purchased 2 acres from the Town of Cochrane and built their own shop. Some of their first hired help were Bill Postlethwaite, Jim Postlethwaite, Don Patterson, Alf Brown, Al McMahon, Phil Cook, Hugh Hillman, Jim Brodie, Basil Powers and Hank Bakker. They built many houses, R.E. Moores Food Store, St. Mary’s Church (later called Nan Boothby Library), Scott Lake Garage and numerous other projects. 

During the mid-1960’s Vern and Gerald Tustian broke many horses. 

In 1967 Lambert Brothers sold their shop and Vern and I purchased a quarter section of land NW Sec 36 Twp 26 Range 5 W5M plus lease from Phil Austin in beautiful Grand Valley. We had a small ranching operation while Vern continued doing construction and playing in a band. 

During 1986 and 1987 construction of the Mountain View Car Wash and Chiropractic Building in Cochrane was done with the help of Mac Leask Jr., Dan Fenton, Jim Rutledge and Gordon Quinn. Then Vern teamed up

with Ed Schmidt in 1988 doing more construction projects until September 1995 when he decided to stay home to look after his cattle and general ranch work and repairs 

Vern and I (Evelyn Beadle) were married in 1953. I was born in the Beadle house on the farm and was delivered by Mrs. Walter Beard, a friend of the family. I attended the Cochrane Lake School until they decided to bus us into the Cochrane Brick School in Cochrane. Our bus drivers were Eddie Rowe and Bill Gogs. 

In 1950 I went to work in the Cochrane Post Office for the summer holidays. My wages were $37.50 a month. I enjoyed the work very much and 29 years later I was still there. During those early years worked with Cyril Camden, Andy Chapman, Dorothy Springett, Bernice Reid, Bob Hogarth, Lloyd and Vi Des Jardine, Gordon Hall and Margaret McDowall, to name a few. 

In those days we had to push the mail cart to the Canadian Pacific Railway station to meet the train every day in order to pick up the mail. 

Wanting a change in 1979 I decided to work for Cochrane’s first I.G.A., later at Kerfoot and Downs Hardware and then to Lorne Helmig’s Esso Station. 

In 1981 I was asked to apply for the Rural Mail contract. which I acquired and did with the help of Winnie Conaboy, Jean Copithorne, Joyce Schmidt, Kathy Harbridge, Mary Anne Beaton, my Dad (Alex Beadle and nephew John Lambert. The two routes covered a distance of 100 miles. RR2 consisted of the Lochend areas and RR1 consisted of the Bottrel and Horse Creek areas. In September 1995 I decided to retire after 14 years of delivering mail, making a total of 43 years working for the Cochrane Postal Department. 

In May 2000 I joined the Cowgirl Cattle Company, an enterprising group of ladies from Cochrane and surrounding areas.

Norman and Shirley Edge

from More Big Hill Country

Beaupre Creek Ranch NE Sec 28 Twp 26 Rge 5 W5M.

Big Hill Country continues and the history of the Norman Edge family follows. But first, we must bring you up to date on where we came from. Norman’s mother Margaret (better known as “Peggy”) was born in Grand Valley, just over the hill from our home, in 1896. Her father had come to Calgary from South Uist, Scotland in 1887. See Big Hill Country page 400 for the Morrison Story. Norman’s Dad, Clem was born in 1890 in Derbyshire, England, one of ten children. He came to Canada with his brother in 1904 when he was just fourteen. He married Peggy Morrison in 1922 at the Catholic Church in Cochrane. They had five children Donald, Margaret (who died of a heart seizure at nine months of age,) Norman, Edith, and Frank. See Page 297 in Big Hill Country for their history and photos. 

That brings you up to date to understand where we are continuing with Norman Edge’s history. In Big Hill Country we recorded that he married Shirley Moore of Calgary in 1955 and they had four children: Duane, Jackie-Lou, Lyle, and Marty. Shirley has asked each one of them to continue their lives in print for her as they know much better than she what they found really interesting in their lives once they left home. 

Rodeo is still a high priority in their family. Once Norman quit bull riding he started judging and has travelled all over Canada and the United States in his career. He was asked to judge the World Cup of Rodeo in Australia, the stock at the National Finals in Oklahoma City, the first rodeo in the New Madison Square Gardens, the Canadian National Finals and many more. 

Although Shirley was never a rodeo contestant, she was involved as a rodeo secretary, and timer, and was instrumental in developing the CRES (central entry system) for the Professional Rodeo Association. She carried a press card and wrote for the Canadian Rodeo News covering the National Finals in Oklahoma City, U.S.A. Shirley was the convener of the convention that accompanied the First Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton. This rodeo was six days long and she had to organize daily luncheons, breakfasts, hospital visits, sporting events, cabarets and the final awards banquet that was the largest in Edmonton at the time, hosting 1200 guests. 

Norman and Shirley were also involved in the formation of the Canadian Rodeo Historical Association. It has been a long road to develop the organization and Shirley has held the position of Secretary and President over the years. With the formation of the Western Heritage Centre, a joint venture of the Historical Association and the Stockmen’s Foundation, Shirley was its first president. The memorable 1990 Cattle Drive to raise funds for this centre was indeed most successful. Both Norman and Shirley were inducted into the Professional Rodeo Hall of Fame in October 2007. 

The two of them are still ranching on the Beaupre Creek Ranch about 14 km. west of Cochrane. Norman is still involved in the film industry working on western movies doing special skills, the varied jobs of a wrangler, that range from working with the horses or other livestock, teaching the actors to ride and feel comfortable on a horse, harnessing and driving teams and wagon and many other things. He really enjoys himself when he is working on films but mostly because he can renew friendships with other workers that he may not have seen since the last film. Our son Marty, partners with us on the ranch. He and Norman have a good working arrangement where one of them is always here to look after business. 

Once their children were raised, Shirley decided to take up painting with the Cochrane Art Club. It has been quite an experience for her and she has thoroughly enjoyed it for the past 30 years. She works mostly in Oil and Acrylics but likes to pursue watercolour as well. She has received several awards for her work and an interesting commission from the Government of Alberta. Their lives haven’t changed much over the years, ranching is still their first priority but they each have a few other interests to keep their lives interesting.

Norman and Shirley were the first couple inducted into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2007

Related Blogs

Ermina Maria Cochrane

Michael Martin, great-great Grandson of Matthew Cochrane recently got in touch with CHAPS President Larry Want. He provided more information on the history of the Cochrane Ranche Company and some details on his lineage.

Here is his email to CHAPS.

”One of Senator Cochrane’s daughters (Ermina Maria) married my great-grandfather Charles Cassils in 1876 so I thought I’d get in touch. The history of Cochrane Ranche after the original ranche folded and its property was sold off to the Mormon Church didn’t end in the early part of the 1900’s….

The Cassils branch of the Cochrane family lived in Montreal and that’s where I live.

The Senator had nine children as far as I’m aware – I think this website is mostly correct: https://baladodecouverte.com/circuits/356/poi/2987/matthew-henry-cochrane but I don’t have a Cochrane family tree – only a Cassils one that goes back as far as Charles and Ermina Maria. Here’s an early picture of her….

The Senator died in 1903 in Compton, south-east of Montreal (where he was born) and I think his sons sold off his farm there called ‘Hillhurst’.

The company itself sold its assets to the Mormons, not the Senator – and the company was wound up in about 1909 or so. In the winding up process, they didn’t realize that the Ranche owned mineral rights in the Pincher Creek area and those rights were left dormant until oil and gas drilling in the 1950’s brought them to light. When that occurred, a shareholders list was re-constituted and the Cochrane Ranche (1962) Company was formed – it’s now called Cochrane Ranche Inc. and for my many and varied sins, I’m its current President. Many shareholders are Senator Cochrane descendants or those of families he persuaded to invest in the original 1888 Ranche.

Family members of mine have visited there – I’m not sure of the Museum but the cowboy statue for sure. I’m not in Montreal at the moment but I do have some 100+ year old papers which I’ll look over when I am back there towards the end of June. The corporation isn’t having much success these days with current prices being so low. ”

Related posts

Cochrane Ranche significance to Alberta history


The Royal Bank of Canada in Cochrane

from More Big Hill Country 1945-1980

The Village of Cochrane had only been in existence for four years when the Union Bank of Canada arrived in 1907 to set up a branch. Frequently referred to as the pioneer bank of Western Canada, the Union Bank followed Canada’s railway across the Prairies and had the distinction of being the first bank to provide an extensive branch system throughout the Prairie Provinces. After Cochrane gained village status in 1903, its growth took off making it only a matter of time before banking services came to the area; and the Union Bank was the first bank on the scene. 

The arrival of the Union Bank would signal the start of a new era for Cochrane. For a time, the branch not only served the residents of Cochrane; the Bank Staff also travelled via horseback to provide on-site banking services to a coal mine located three miles from the branch. 

In the early 1900s, banking was considered a highly respectable and dignified profession for a gentleman to set his sights on. Young men, starting at the ages of 16 or 17, were eager to acquire junior positions with a banking establishment as a means to moving into the professional ranks and increasing one’s social standing. 

Their roots were rural or small-town and they were very often the second or third sons of farmers, who 

foresaw little chance of inheriting the family home stead and were eager to find respectability. Starting off as junior with a salary of $150 -$250 per year was a far cry above the wages to be had from labour intensive positions. Through meticulous work, a junior at the bank could work his way up the ladder, eventually obtaining the position of Branch Manager. This was considered quite an achievement in one’s banking career, as the Manager was the public face of the Bank in the town. Plus the increase in salary was agreeable; a rural Bank Manager’s salary could range from around $100 to $1,400 per annum in the early 1900’s. 

On September 1, 1925, the Union Bank of Canada merged with Royal Bank and the latter bank continued to operate out of the same building. Three years later, the Branch was destroyed by fire. A new building was erected on the same site shortly thereafter, and Bank business was conducted from these new premises for the next forty-nine years. During that time, the Branch was renovated in 1964 and expanded in 1969. 

In the mid-1970s, the Branch’s quarters had become cramped and there was no room for further expansion. In 1976, the bank leased space in a mall complex that was being built. On March 7, 1977, RBC celebrated the grand opening of its new premises in the Cochrane Valley Shopping Center. The Branch continued to grow and on November 30, 1995, it moved to its current location at 130 1st Avenue West. 

Royal Bank Managers

  • R.W. Widdoes 1907-1909

  • T.C. Patterson 1909-1926

  • R.C. Jamieson 1926-1928
  • C.G.M. McBey 1928-1934
  • J.K Atkinson 1934-1938
  • A.H. OKeefe 1938-1946
  • A.J. Allen 1946-1952
  • J.W. Clark 1952-1955
  • G.W. Woods 1955-1966
  • C.M. Moe 1969-1972
  • E.L, Archer 1972-1976
  • M.E. Robertson 1976-1984
  • L.R. Harding 1984-1989
  • W.R. Lyse 1989-1997
  • K.M. Zimmel 1997-1998
  • R.G. Parker 1998-2000
  • M.J. Semple 2000-2003
  • J.D. Walton 2003 – 

     

Royal Bank by Gayle Want

The bank had outgrown the mall location. Although there were already bank machines in the foyer, it needed a building that would accommodate a drive-through machine as well. The corner at 130 – 1st Avenue West was perfect.

It’s on the same street, only 100 yards from the corner the bank started on 100 years ago. That location has always been a hub of activity.

In 1898, the Murphy Brothers built the Murphy House which was later called the Alberta Hotel there. It was a large three-story hotel that hosted many functions. On December 12, 1927, it burned to the ground. Only 10 months later on October 1, 1928, the Fisher Block that housed the Royal Bank was destroyed by fire. 

There were two old buildings on the lot in 1994 that had to be demolished to build the new bank. One was the old Webb and Milligan ESSO garage building and gas pumps, as well as the old brick Alberta Government Telephone building. The bricks from the Telephone building were made here in Cochrane by the Collin’s Brickyards. They were salvaged during demolition and were used to build the corner signage and benches. There is a historical plaque with a picture of the brickyards and Mr. Collin’s on it. 

It’s still a very busy corner and you often see folks visiting or resting on those benches on warm sunny days. 

Tidbits gathered from bank employees Joanne Fenton, Vicki Deeton, Gloria Johnson, Cheri Lyse as told to Gayle Want.

It was considered quite a privilege to work for the bank in a small town for men or women. 

The first woman to work in the banking industry was Jennie Moore in 1904. The first female bank manager in Cochrane bank was MJ. (Maggie) Semple from 2000-2003. 

At one time the bank staff had to get bank permission to get married. 

At one time the bank staff were not allowed to socialize or drink in the local taverns or beer parlours 

Dress codes for women were relaxed some in the 1970s when they could wear dress pants. 

They had to have a top or jacket that would be long enough to cover their buttocks. 

Cochrane’s first automatic banking machine in the 1980s was serviced by two staff members who would be on-call evenings and weekends. Pagers were carried for contacting staff. The contents of the machines were verified each morning by bank staff. 

The bank always encouraged staff to take courses and upgrade their skills.

Notes found in George Wood's Momentos

Compiled by Marilyn Woods Whittle

The objective of all dedicated employees should be to thoroughly analyze all situations, anticipate all problems prior to their occurrence, have answers for these problems and move swiftly to solve them if called upon. 

However… 

When you are up to your ass in alligators it is difficult to remind yourself that your initial objective was to drain the swamp 

– Started career in Pierson, Manitoba May 15, 1922.

– Arrived in Cochrane on February 28, 1955.

– Retired from Cochrane March 31, 1966.

– Relieved in 68 branches and retired again on February 23, 1976.

– The Bank was used on Saturday mornings as a place for bake sales. Church ladies group took turns and the baked items were sold quickly. 

– Two bachelor brothers had their first phone installed. The one brother was angry that his brother had made many phone calls so he arrived at the bank to pay his bills and he said to George, I just told him (my brother) “What’s the point of having a telephone if you ain’t gonna use it”. 

– Another client with very limited eyesight arrived at the bank and always got George to write out the cheques for his bills. He would then remove his thick glasses, put his nose right on the desk and sign the cheques. 

– The McGonigles – Rose came to the bank with her family allowance cheque and deposited the money into each child’s account. The picture shows 9 children. The last children were twins, a boy and a girl. 

– The Bank offered a course from Queens University – “Queens University in accordance with the authority given by the Canadian Bankers Association does hereby certify that has duly passed with Honours the examinations for the Certificate of the Association, has thereby become an Associate of the

Canadian Bankers Association”. 

– George also took many legal courses via correspondence from Queens. He helped probate the will of many locals. 

– The RCMP received information that the bank in Cochrane was to be robbed. George Woods was the bank manager. In consultation with the RCMP, they decided that George should arrive as usual. The RCMP would hide in the ditch across the street from the bank. Two men in trench coats approached the bank, peered in the window and banged on the door. George came to the door, opened it, the RCMP (a two-man detachment at the time) sprang from the ditch with their guns drawn. The two men were bank inspectors. They were very impressed with the security in Cochrane. The “robbers” never arrived. 

In 1959 the bank decided that it had to replace the safe door. A contractor was hired. Yvon de Carle was an employee and George Woods was the bank manager. Yvon slept at the bank to protect the contents for the duration of the renovation.

The Eymas

From Big Hill Country

Not only Queen Juliana enjoys a visit to the Eymas but so do people in all walks of life. 

The Eymas, who now live on the Chinook Ranch, are very pleased with their home and surroundings but are a bit sorry they did not continue to call their ranch the “Robber’s Roost” as it was called in earlier days. Pierre realizes he did not know the history of the place when he came or he would have done just that. 

Pierre was born in Leerdam, Holland, in 1905. In 1924, after attending College in Holland, he came to Canada on a C.P.R. ship, the S.S. Melita. He was one of the first Hollanders to immigrate to Canada. 

He went to Quilchena on Nicola Lake, in British Columbia, to learn about fur farming. Later he came back to Calgary and started the Chinook Silver Fox Farm on land adjoining Harry Hays’ farm, just south of the old polo grounds. He imported silver fox breeding stock from Prince Edward Island for $2,000 a pair. 

When Pierre first came to Calgary he was anxious to meet young people. The streetcar that used to come out to the loop at Kingsland on Macleod Trail, stopped quite a distance from any house. He thought maybe it would be a good idea to get in his Model T and give some of the girls that got off a ride. He drove up to the loop and sure enough, a lovely blonde girl got off just loaded with parcels. She accepted his kindness and he drove her home, doing his damndest to get a date but with no luck. One day he was asked by a neighbouring fox farmer, Henri Andersen, to give him a hand. Pierre was asked for dinner, and to come in and meet the wife. When Pierre was introduced to Henri’s wife, Nini, the girl he had driven home, all he could say was, “Mrs.!” 

In 1932 Pierre came to Cochrane and bought a quarter section of land for the exorbitant price of $5.50 an acre from Jim Baptie of Exshaw. The going price for the land was $2.50 to $3.00 an acre. The cabin on the land had been called “Robber’s Roost” and the place was referred to as the Old Mill. Apparently, Tom Quigley had had a sawmill on the property and after that, it became a haven where single men, with no fixed abode, made their home in between jobs, which, in the 1930s, were hard to find. The story has been told about one cowboy riding in hoping to get a good dinner on his way to the Dog Pound Stampede. Seeing a clean shirt on the line, he decided he was no longer hungry, exchanged his dirty shirt for the clean, and rode on. People say the boys staying there would give you the shirt off their back but sometimes it was your own shirt. 

Pierre decided to come and live at Cochrane so he built himself a four-wheeled trailer to pull behind his Chev roadster. He moved seventy foxes, all his pens and equipment to Cochrane, a distance of fifty miles, making 52 trips in all. No easy task when it rained, as the Cochrane Hill had not been hard-surfaced and sometimes the ruts crisscrossed on the hill were a foot deep. 

On his very first trip, Pierre met a rider who, in a very quiet voice, while chewing his moustache, introduced himself as D. P. Mc Donald. After the usual salutations, D. P. wished him well but warned him whatever he did to watch a certain Dave McDougall. Half an hour later a second rider came galloping up the road and, in a voice that was anything but quiet, introduced himself as Dave McDougall. Before he left he reminded Pierre to be sure and watch that D. P. McDonald. Pierre found himself in the middle between the Hatfields and the McCoys. 

One time Henri Andersen came with Pierre and was so taken up with the country that he went back to Calgary and brought his friend Peter Hansen out. Later Henri and Peter bought land in the next valley. Pierre considers that he is to blame for the Danish Invasion in Beaupré. 

The original Robber’s Roost, although not exactly level, had been well built and the doorstep was a cut round from a huge log which served the purpose very well. Lying on the doorstep were five rods with Roman numerals on them that puzzled Pierre for days. Finally, he asked a friend what they were for. When told they were survey pins and you could be heavily fined for having them in your possession, Pierre soon decided to move them somewhere else. Later he quietly watched a neighbour move one of his survey pins out of the proper hole. After the coast was clear, Pierre put the pin back where it belonged. This fellow never did find out how he lost the land he was figuring to gain. 

His biggest problem when he first came to this district was keeping the neighbour’s cattle and horses out of his field. One lady not only used his corrals to corral her horses without asking but told him off because they were not in good repair. 

One day in desperation Pierre decided to go to Delbeke and tell him in no uncertain terms to keep his cattle in his own field. Pierre changed his mind when he got to Delbekes and claims he got even with him because Marie Delbeke, the oldest daughter, is now Pierre’s wife. 

Pierre and Marie were married in 1935. They have three children, Anita, Jay and Clay. Anita married Newt Kessler. They have four children and live in Houston, Texas. Jay married Lynne Smith. They have four children and live in Jackass Canyon in the home place. Clay finishes school and helps his parents on the ranch. 

In 1939 just before World War II was declared, Pierre took his wife and two children, Anita and Jay, aged three and two, back to Holland for a holiday and to meet his parents. Their return tickets were booked for passage on the Duchess of Bedford. The Duchess of Bedford was not able to leave port so her passengers were given a first place on the Athenia. The Eymas, desperate to get back to Canada due to the unrest in Europe, was given the last cabin on the Empress of Australia. The Athenia was torpedoed off the coast of Ireland with the loss of most of her passengers. World War II was declared the day the Eymas arrived in Montreal. 

Soon after Pierre came to Cochrane he added to his fur-bearing animals by buying platinum foxes and platinum mink. He takes great pride in his show rabbits, pigeons, chickens and guinea pigs and has been engaged in this endeavour since 1913, as an eight-year-old in Holland. His family is very proud, and justifiably so, of the over 1,000 ribbons and trophies he has won over the years. 

The walls in Eymas’ trophy room are covered with hunting trophies and different collections of interest. They have over 60 sets of horns in their place. One thing in the trophy room that is really fascinating is Pierre’s Hans Brinker skates. When he first came to Calgary in 1924 he decided he would join a skating party on Elbow Drive. He quickly strapped on his skates and went skating across the ice. Everyone wondered what the heck because they could not see his skates.

The Eymas now have a new home, and their prize birds have taken over the original Robber’s Roost, which has been enlarged several times during the years. 

Pierre and Marie have been kept busy but have had time to fulfill their interest in community life. Pierre was president of the Ghost River Pony Club for ten years. He was a school trustee for Beaupré Creek School until it closed in 1962, was instrumental in getting the Beaupré Community Association started, and was president of the Association for five years. 

The Eymas have not been fur farming for several years. They raised thoroughbred horses and dairy cattle. The only drawback with the property was the road and gate problem. At first, there were seven gates to open from the main road to their home, a distance of about five miles. Dirt roads were seldom fit for travel by car in the spring or winter, so they left their car at the Hollowood Store and would drive a team and wagon and leave them there while they went to Calgary and back in the car. The team is tied up for hours at the fence resulted in many a runaway with feed and groceries scattered along the trail. 

One of the highlights of their life was the visit of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, in 1967, accompanied by the Ambassadors and Consuls and their wives, from both Canada and Holland. 

The security precautions before and during the visit were most impressive. At one point when the Queen was leaving, one of the detectives spotted a movement in the trees and whipped out his gun. Pierre almost lost one of his best bulls. 

The Dutch Princesses, Queen Juliana’s daughters, attended Pierre’s uncle’s (Kees Boeke) private school in Holland. 

When Queen Juliana was shown through the trophy room she showed an amazing knowledge of hunting and wildlife. 

QUEEN JULIANA'S VISIT (1967) - by Clay Eyma 

 

The visit of Queen Juliana begins like this. One cold, snowy day in March, the Dutch Consuls from Edmonton and Calgary came to visit us. On April 30, they came again and were joined by His Excellency, the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Canada. 

May 12, the Consuls from Edmonton and Calgary called again and informed us that Queen Juliana would visit us May 22, at 2:15 p.m. for fifty minutes. We could not tell a soul as it was top security. 

Mom immediately started to clean the house and do some fancy cooking. Mom also got out her lace tablecloth and china for the big occasion. Dad tidied up the place outside. I cleaned my bedroom. 

May 18, twenty security men, including R.C.M.P. detectives and army officials, arrived to see where to park and where they would be

pictures of the place and who had an interview with Dad. These pictures were shown in Holland the following day. On May 21, four more television men came out to take pictures of the scenery. It was quite an experience to see how plans are made for dignitaries. 

We were informed by the Edmonton Consul that Queen Juliana’s flight would be late and she would arrive at 3.15 p.m. instead of 2.15 p.m. First, the R.C.M.P. police car came up the road. They went up past our house and later came down the road again. A little later a car arrived, stopped by the corral and the men started setting up their cameras. Within minutes a second car stopped at the same place and the men put their cameras up. About ten minutes later we saw a bus coming. When the bus drove up, about thirty reporters and more television men jumped out. By this time we felt that we were invaded. 

About fifteen minutes later two R.C.M.P. Police cars followed by a cavalcade of seven cars came up the road. A small white car drove up to our gate on the walk. The door opened and before anyone could assist her, out stepped Queen Juliana.

Her Majesty’s hair was almost golden in colour. She wore a blue dress with black shoes, a hat and a purse. Her Majesty was introduced to the family while cameramen were pushing and shoving everyone around. Finally, we managed to get into the house. 

After talking a few minutes, the Queen was asked to see the den. In the den, she looked at the deer heads, moose horns, coyote, bear, badger, goat and muskrat hides, and many different varieties of birds. 

While the Queen was in the den, the table was set up and when the Queen came back, coffee was served. We had moose meat sandwiches among other varieties of sandwiches and the Queen chose to eat four moose sandwiches. 

The Queen was to stay fifty minutes but stayed an hour and a half. The cameramen wanted to take pictures inside and asked her permission. Her Majesty said, “Certainly not. You’re not going to spoil my visit when I am enjoying myself.” That sure made the cameramen keep quiet for a while. 

We served coffee and tea to sixteen people who included the Lady-in-Waiting, the Canadian Ambassador to Holland, the Dutch Ambassador to Canada and their wives. There was also an “Equerry” which is a sort of General. He was dressed in a Dutch uniform which was navy blue with a gold braid, and a matching cap. Altogether there were about fifty people including the press and cameramen who were being served lunch outside. 

Her Majesty had to leave as she had another stop and an engagement in Calgary at seven-thirty p.m. The Queen was very charming. Before she left, she asked if she could take greetings to anyone in Holland. Dad replied by asking her to say hello to everyone in Holland for him. 

We were very sorry to see her go so quickly. My father’s uncle was a teacher to the princesses, Her Majesty’s daughters, and several of the Royal Party were acquainted with his relatives in Holland. There were three families picked out of one hundred families, the Lublinkhofs, DeWitts and ourselves. 

NOTE: Written in 1967, the year of the Royal Visit, when Clay was thirteen years of age.

Talk about Traditions! Meet the Edge Family

by Gordon and Belle Hall

Norman Frank Edge was born in the Brushy Ridge district, one of a family of eight – six boys and two girls. In the year that Norman was born, his father Wm. H. Edge was showing Clydesdale horses at the Territorial Spring Show in Calgary and won with a Clyde stallion named Redburn. N.F. grew up with ranching and grew to love horses. He was raking hay for his father when he was eight years old. 

1983 Canadian Pro Rodeo Inductee Norman Frank Edge

As teenagers, Norman and brother Ollie joined other boys in the district to develop their skills riding at the local stampedes. During the winters of 1925-26, Norman broke polo ponies and remounts for D.P. MacDonald at the Mount Royal Ranch. In 1922 and 1923, Norman and Ollie took in the Jumping Pound stampedes as well as other rodeos. The lure of the big o took them to Calgary in 1924. In 1925 Norman got lucky and won the brahma steer riding and bareback bronc riding events. In 1925 Norman went to the west coast with the Peter Welsh Stampede Co. In 1927 N.F. won the steer riding event again. In 1928 he won the bareback bronc riding and gained permanent possession of a sterling silver trophy donated by Calgary Brewing and Malting Co. 

In 1929 a team consisting of Johnny Munro, Ollie Edge and Norman won the wild horse race in Calgary. In the years from 1923 to 1937, when Norman Edge retired, he had competed in rodeos at Jumping Pound, Calgary, Montreal, Columbus, Ohio, Sundre, Hand Hills, Toronto, Pendleton, Oregon, White City Stadium in London, England, Winnipeg, New Westminister, Vancouver, Medicine Hat, Ottawa, Buffalo, New York, Chicago and many others. Rodeo promoters of the day included Guy Weadick, Tex Austin and Peter Welsh. 

Norman was present in 1925 at New Westminister when Bara Lad, trained by my father Syd Hall and owned by Peter Welsh jumped 8 feet 172 inches to a new high jump record. In 1940 Norman and Claudia Lynn were married. Claudia was the second of six children and was born near Suffield Alberta. Claudia Edge has a noted teaching career, teaching at Jumping Pound, Springbank and Cochrane junior-senior high and was a very talented and respected teacher. Claudia and Norman have three sons: Garth, Barry and Lynn. 

During the 1974 Calgary Stampede, Norman, together with Eddie Watrin and Pete Vandermeer was honoured as old-time cowboys. Each was presented with a framed picture and Silver cufflinks. The inscription reads: “Norman Edge in appreciation for your contribution to rodeo, Calgary Exhibition and Stampede 1974.” Norman and Claudia are both retired now and spend their winters in Arizona. Truly good friends and a fine couple to all.

From A Peep into the Past, A Collection of Historic Poems and Short Stories by Gordon and Belle Hall Vol. II

Cochrane $20 Dollar Specimen featuring Norman Frank Edge

Norman Edge was inducted into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1983

Norman Frank Edge Obituary Calgary Herald Mar 31 1996

Copithorne, a true Alberta builder

by Belle and Allan Hall

Clarence Copithorne was the youngest son of Richard and Sophia Copithorne. Clarence was born in the little brick hospital in Cochrane on Nov. 12, 1920. He received some education at the Little Jumping Pound School, then attending Olds Agricultural School for three years, graduating with a diploma in agriculture. Clarence’s first public office was that of secretary-treasurer of the Jumping Pound Forestry Grazing Association. 

Clarence, along with Percy and Frank Copithorne, was at the official opening of the Shell plant at Jumping Pound in 1951. The Hon. N.E. Tanner, minister of mines and minerals was in attendance also. Clarence Copithorne was a member of the Masonic Order and the Oddfellows Lodge in Cochrane. In 1946 he married Irene Robertson, eldest daughter of Don and Yvonne Robertson, who were the proprietors of the English Shop in Calgary. The Clarence Copithorne’s had six children. In 1967 Copithorne was asked to run in the forthcoming provincial election. He was elected with a small majority to represent the riding of Banff-Cochrane as an Independent. Clarence took over from F.L. Gainor who had retired. In April 1970 Clarence turned Conservative to run in his second election. Peter Lougheed was premier and when Copithorne was elected for a second term, he was appointed minister of highways. 

Building the Fort Vermilion bridge was one of Clarence’s major projects as highway’s minister. This is the largest, most northerly bridge in North America. It crosses the Mighty Peace River, is nearly 2,000 feet long and is linked with the road from Slave Lake, which Copithorne was also able to complete. In four years his department was successful in paving 14,065 miles of new road in Alberta. Twelve new major bridges were built in the province, graded 2,000 miles of new road, oiled 4,000 and gravelled 2,400 miles. 

Clarence was largely responsible for the forming of the Cochrane Ranche Park as a historic site. Copithorne’s health had failed and was flown by helicopter to the opening of the park. He passed away a while after the park had been opened. 

Cattle drive on the Copithorne Ranch - Flickr

from A Peep into the Past Vol. II by Gordon and Belle Hall

Clement and Margaret Edge

by Shirley Edge

Every Sunday one could see a rider heading down the Grand Valley road and, sure enough, it would be Clem Edge going to see his best girl, Peggy Morrison. Clem was a big strapping man who was making his living breaking horses. He was born in Derbyshire, England, on June 6, 1890, and was one of ten children born to Thomas and Mary Ellen Edge (nee Bestwick) who lived in the slate house, “Foufinside”, in Parwich, England. Clem went to school in Parwich. 

When Clem was a young boy in England, he and his brothers would test their courage and have fun racing across the backs of cattle that were in huge pens. The object of the game was to try not to fall down among the milling cattle. 

Clem and an older brother, Sidney (Sid), came to Canada when Clem was just fourteen. They started their life in Canada working for a farmer outside of Winnipeg. The following spring of 1905 they moved out west and Clem worked for the Bow River Horse Ranch breaking horses. Clem’s desire to see the country took him to California where he worked as a farm labourer at San Rafael. In 1908 Clem returned to Canada and took out a homestead, SE14 13-28-6-5, along Dog Pound Creek. Sidney managed to get a homestead, SW14 18-28-5-5, just east of Clem’s and they worked together. These homesteads are now part of the S7 Ranch owned by A. Garfield Stewart. 

On July 29, 1914, Sid’s life was taken when he suffered a heart attack while driving a team and democrat up the Grand Valley road. He was buried in Cochrane. 

Another older brother, William, born in 1880, was in South Africa for a time. He came to Canada to visit Clem and Sid and later settled in Spokane, Washington. He built an apartment block in Spokane; it is still known as the Edge Block. Will met his death when he was shot down on a street in Spokane. 

Clem broke horses for Ozzie and Bill Johnson, and in 1914 he went to work for George Creighton at the Bar C. 

On January 4, 1915, Clem joined the 12th Regiment of the Canadian Mounted Rifles and spent three years Overseas. When he returned from the Army, he worked his homestead, continued breaking and selling horses, and 

resumed his courtship with Peggy Morrison. Clem was a good dancer. He would hitch up the team to the buggy, pick up Peggy and a bunch of the neighbours and head for the Orange Hall to dance to the music of Tom Quigley and Associates. The Morrison and the McEachen girls would take turns renting a room at the Murphy Hotel, so they would have a place to change into their party dresses. 

Clem bought the Boney Thompson place (the Hornbach homestead) at the top of Grand Valley, along with a few cows and horses. At the same time, he purchased more cows and horses and the Bar 50 brand from a neighbour, Billy Bishop. With a place of his own, stocked with cattle, Clem felt he was now in good shape to propose to his girlfriend. Clem and Peggy were married June 14, 1922, in St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Cochrane. Peggy’s sister Mary and her brother John stood up for them. After lunch at the Morrison place with the family and a few of the boys from the Union Bank, they headed to Banff by car for their honeymoon. Peggy was one of the few lucky girls who sported a tiffany-mounted diamond ring. On return from their honeymoon, they gathered up a bunch of their range cows and broke them to milk. Clem continued breaking horses for other people and worked with a road-building gang. 

On March 9, 1924, their daughter, Margaret, was born. Tragedy struck when Margaret died of a heart seizure when she was just nine months old. Georgina Patterson ran two miles up Grand Valley to the Edge home to try and comfort Clem and Peggy. 

In 1926 and 1927 Clem worked as a rodeo judge with the Alberta Stampede Company, owned by Peter Welch, travelling to Toronto, Chicago, Illinois, and Buffalo, New York. He also competed in local bucking contests as a bronc rider.

Their first son, Donald, was born on February 1. 1929. That year Clem and Peggy bought land just north of the 1A highway, S12 21-26-5-5 and 1, 21-26-5-5, from the Burns Foundation Company. It was a good winter in 1929, and Clem and Charlie Pedeprat worked hard to skid enough logs to build a house on this land. Skidding was difficult because there was very little snow. They lived in a tent beside the building site for most of the winter, then Clem started riding home at night. 

Clement Norman arrived on the scene in August 1930, and when Peggy was able to return home from the hospital, they went to live at their new home, on the Bar 50 Ranch. This home was a beautiful log house with a stone fireplace and lots of room. Two extra rounds of logs were put on the house to allow plenty of headroom.

In May of 1932. a daughter, Edith, was born. During the thirties times were tough and life was hard on everyone, but at least in the country, the necessities of life were at hand.  Power bills were of no concern, when it got dark people went to bed. They didn’t worry about lack of coal or an unpaid gas bill; they just headed outdoors and cut more wood. When cows were selling for a mere $10.00 per head they dismissed all thoughts

of income and concentrated on the necessities of life. They milked cows, churned butter, baked bread, killed beef or mutton and grew their own vegetables. A meagre portion of income was realized from the shipments of cream and a solid $2.95 was received for each five-gallon can of cream. Many essential purchases were made possible with the old cream cheque. Clothes were patched and old coats and pants were tenderly turned into patchwork quilts. 

On a cold January 14th, in 1937, a third son, Frank, made his appearance into the Edge family. A few years later Clem and Peggy became second parents to another boy they soon regarded with as much affection and interest as their own. Bobby Orr came from Exshaw to spend several summers with the Edges and soon became a part of the family. He is now married with a family of his own and still comes “home” to visit Peggy at Christmas and on other special occasions. Pictures of Bobby in his childhood, and his graduation from University, hold a spot on the wall among the rest of the family photos. 

Clem had his eye on a Clyde stallion, Stanmore Pride, and traded several horses to Ernie Young from Swalwell, Alberta, for him. Ernie and his daughter Annie (Mrs. Ed. Raby) arrived to gather the horses. Annie was a very capable young girl and because Peggy was having health problems following Frank’s birth, Annie was hired to help with the housework. However, it wasn’t long before she was kept busy outdoors running the Hart-Parr tractor. 

The Edge home was much the same as most other homes in the area, except for one thing.

This was the place where the Beaupré schoolteacher boarded. For the most part, it took quite a hardening-in period, enduring the constant teasing of the Edge boys. Things like finding your horse saddled backwards and serenades like “Goodnight Irene” in the middle of the night led to a long and binding friendship among them all. When Donald first started school he walked a mile across the country to the Beaupré Creek School. Norman rode his pony “Pal” to school and for $2.00 a month he packed a gallon syrup pail of drinking water to the school each day. Eventually, they afforded a water bag which was certainly easier to tote on a saddle horse. Old Pal was long remembered for the many walk, trot and run races he won over the years at the local gymkhanas. Edith and Frank also rode to school. 

There was always lots of repair work to be done around Edges. One day when Jack Stevenson, an Old Country carpenter and cabinet maker, who had built homes for some of the Edges south of the Bow River, was building a set of stairs up to the attic for Peggy, and Donald and Norman were building a roof on the barn, young Frank wandered down to a long cattle shed that had a straw roof. A scattering of straw remained in the feed bunk at one end, and Frank proceeded to build himself a fire in the middle of it. Norman saw there was trouble and came down from the roof of the barn and dragged the unconcerned little Frank out of the shed, and the flames soon engulfed the entire building. The reprimand that followed wasn’t quite so enjoyable. 

Frank also spent a lot of time just sitting on the old ram. The ram was very co-operative; he would stand while Frank climbed aboard, but getting off was another matter. Frank knew the ram would attack with a good bunt when he tried 

Drawing water

to dismount. The rest of the family usually ignored his beck and call – so sit he did! 

During the Second World War, Peggy and a few other women in the area organized the Wildcat Hills Victory Club. Its purpose was to raise money for the Queen’s Canadian Fund. This fund helped to provide cigarettes for our soldiers and milk for the children of Britain. The women would meet once a month to plan fundraising activities and it was the duty of each one to organize and handle one fund-raising event. In October 1941, Peggy chose to have a barn dance in the new barn. The dance was a roaring success. The Wildcat Hills Victory Club, having served its purpose, was dissolved when the War ended. 

During the summers of 1942 to 1945, Donald, 13, and Norman, 12, were hired by Tommy Farell. manager of P. Burns Ranches Limited, to keep tabs on the Burns cattle and check the salt licks in the Burns fields. This land was later purchased by Clem for $7.50 per acre. 

In the fall the boys would help gather and trail 300-odd steers to Cochrane where they were loaded on cattle cars for shipment. Although the Edge boys only helped with this leg of the operation, the fall gathering was indeed a huge one. Cattle were gathered from Burns calf camp at Big Hill Creek and the Rocky Butte on the old George McDonald place and all were loaded out at Cochrane at the same time. Initially, these cattle came from C. K. Ranches, located on what is now known as West Dalhousie in Calgary, and were herded to the various summer camps. 

The Bar 50 was also used as a stopping place for Frank Phillips and his pack string as he moved from Morgan Lewis’s en route to their big game trips down the Elk Valley in British Columbia via the Kananaskis Lakes. For three years starting the fall of 1944, Donald and

Norman spared three weeks to a month’s time from their studies to work for Frank as wranglers and packers on these trips. 

One time, along with Angus and Elmer McDonald, Clem and Norman were cutting the summer supply of ice from the Ghost Dam. Clem slipped and fell on the ice and hollered to the others that he had broken his leg. They all thought he was joking and went on with their work. Further attempts to make them realize he was not just fooling failed, and finally, when he chose a few choice adjectives to describe his problem, they realized that he was in serious trouble. He had, in fact, severely broken his leg. 

When Donald and Norman started high school, their parents drove them to the Cochrane School until Donald got his driver’s license. The boys would pick up Alice Jean Sharpe (Mrs. Harvey King) and drop her off each night. During the War, car parts were hard to get. One winter the transmission went out of the Ford car so Donald and Norman hitch-hiked or rode their saddle horses the nine miles to school. Father Lessard gave them hot soup at noon in return for hauling water and working on the Old Timer newspaper. Father Lessard also taught catechism in the Edge home. Donald finished his education at the Olds School of Agriculture and graduated in 1949. Edith also attended this college and graduated in 1951. Norman turned to rodeo and divided his time between helping his dad on the ranch and travelling to various rodeos, entering the different events. He liked bull riding best and ranked among the top ten bull riders for several years. 

In June 1952, Clem and Peggy decided to drop in on the Austins. They were disappointed when they weren’t asked to stay for tea. Later they learned the reason why, when the Austins were among the many friends who arrived to surprise them with a shower in honour of their 30th Wedding Anniversary. 

The year 1953 was indeed a proud one for Clem and Peggy when Edith became Calgary’s Stampede Queen. She received a scholarship and took a comptometer course and went to work for Socony Mobil Oil of Canada, Ltd. Later she spent three seasons as a camp cook for Brewsters in Banff. 

The first wedding in the family took place in September 1955, when Norman married Shirley Moore of Calgary. The old Liddell (Creighton) place, where Mr. Beaupré and his wife had squatted years before, was to be their new home. They tore down the old Creighton house and used the lumber in their new home. Within the walls, they found a two-by-four with the following inscription: “This house erected for J. G. Creighton by Robert Downey in the year of 1903.” Their ranch is called the Beaupré Creek Ranch and they brand their black white-faced cattle with NE Half Diamond and use Bar 50 for their horse brand.

Only a few families along the lA highway had electricity, so Norman approached Calgary Power and on May 9, 1955, the Beaupré Rural Electrification Association was officially established. It originated with ten members: President, John L. R. McLenahan; Secretary-Treasurer, C. Norman Edge; and Directors: Margaret P. Hess, Bud Ullery, Bob McDougall, J. E. Parsons, Helen McDonald, F. Delbeke, Richard Philp, Henri Andersen and Maurice Johnsen. 

Donald worked for three years with Calgary Power at the Ghost Plant, then he went to Banff to spend the summers working for Claude Brewster as head guide and superintendent. He spent nine winters in Carpenteria, California, working with polo ponies for Pat Linfoot and others. In 1957 Frank spent one season in California working with polo ponies for Mo Lightman. Donald spent that season in Florida. 

In 1955 Frank graduated from St. Mary’s Boys’ School in Calgary. In November 1958, he married Lorraine Brown from Hodgson, Manitoba, who was working as a nursing aide at the Morley Indian Hospital. They live on their High Park Ranch in the Beaupré area and use the Bar 50 and Quarter Circle FJ as their cattle brands and the J Half Diamond as their horse brand. 

While still employed with Claude Brewster, Donald spent three years in the 1960s guiding buffalo hunts in the Northwest Territories. He built two log cabins at Le Grand Detour Point on the Slave River. One hunter, Charlie Stoll, from New York, captured a trophy that was second to the world’s record at that time. Trophy buffalo hunts were inaugurated when Claude received the first permit. Donald was the first licensed guide for buffalo hunts in the N.W.T. Edith, who accompanied him for two seasons, was the first woman to cook on buffalo hunts in the N.W.T. 

After the hunts, Edith returned to the business world and worked for Home Oil Company. She married Quentin Armstrong in October 1965, and they ranch at Nanton, Alberta.

Donald worked as a brand inspector for the Alberta Department of Agriculture at the Calgary Stockyards. He married Dorothy Bryant on March 12, 1966, and they live on the home quarter of the Bar 50 Ranch and run a cow-calf operation with Aberdeen Angus Hereford cross cattle. They use the DM Bar as their cattle brand and DM as their horse brand. Both these brands were registered by Don’s grandfather, Donald Campbell Morrison, in the late 1800s. 

In 1932 Clem lost an eye. A piece of metal flew up and pierced his eyeball when he was repairing the binder, and in 1969 Donald lost the fingers and thumb of his right hand in an accident at harvest time. 

In May of 1966, Clem passed away in the Colonel Belcher Hospital after a lengthy illness. Peggy still resides on the home ranch and is deeply involved in her families’ lives. She was chosen as a pioneer daughter for the year 1975, by the Southern Alberta Pioneers and Their Descendants Association. 

All of the Edges have continued in the ranching industry. Norman continued rodeoing until just recently when he started judging. He has judged rodeos throughout Canada and most of the Western United States. He judged the Expo rodeo in Montreal in 1967 and the first rodeo in the new Madison Square Gardens in New York City in 1968. He was president of the Canadian Rodeo Cowboys’ Association for two years. Both Norman and Donald hold gold cards in this Association. Donald and Frank also do some judging and help at horse shows. Frank is an instructor for boy’s steer riding at the Calgary Stampede Rodeo College. 

The movie industry has also come into the lives of the Edges. Peggy’s log house was used to film a story on the Siberian Snow Tigers. Norman was a technical advisor and a double in “King of the Grizzlies,” a Walt Disney film, and Frank has been a wrangler and special effects man for such movies as “Prime Cut,” “Pioneer Woman,” and “Buffalo Bill and the Indians.” 

Granny, as Peggy is known to everyone, has eleven grandchildren. Norman and Shirley have four children: Duane, Jackie-Lou, Lyle and Marty. Frank and Lorraine also have four children: Terry, Kevin, Bobbi and Brandi. These children are involved in rodeo, and Lyle won the Canadian Junior Calf Roping Championship in 1975. They have all had their hand in the film industry. The Edge children took part in a story about ranch children for the T.V. program “Sesame Street” and it was filmed on the Beaupré Creek Ranch. Lyle also played a part in Walt Disney’s movie, “The Boy Who Talked to Badgers.” Terry, Duane and Kevin recently worked on the “Buffalo Bill and the Indians” movie filmed on the Morley Indian Reservation. Jackie spent last summer working as a camp cook on trail rides out of Banff. Edith and Quentin’s children, Margaret, Clem and Teddy, although still very young, have already been involved in the local horse shows and gymkhanas. 

The tree of life goes on. Old roots give way to new limbs and it is apparent that ranching rodeo, and packing or trail riding in the high country has consistently crept into the lives of the Edges, no matter what the generation. 

 

Edith Edge – Calgary Stampede Queen 1953

Page 302 Big Hill Country

Edith Edge, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Clem Edge of Cochrane, was sponsored by the Cochrane Light Horse Association in 1953 and became Calgary Stampede Queen that year. 

Raised on the Bar 50 Ranch west of Cochrane, Edith learned to ride at an early age and took part in all ranching activities. She was active in the Cochrane Light Horse Association, The Ghost River Pony Club and rode her horse to school. 

In 1953 Edith was adopted by the Stoney Indian Tribe as an Honorary Princess and given the name of “Princess Good Eagle Girl.” *. In the October 1954 issue of Chatelaine Magazine, Edith was chosen as one of three women to represent Alberta in an article on Women of the Year for each province across Canada. 

In 1955 she competed in the Miss Rodeo of Canada Contest which was held at Ft. Macleod during their annual rodeo. She was runner up to the Miss Rodeo Queen, Connie Ivens, from Cardston, who later married Bob Robinson of the Jumping Pound district, south of Cochrane. 

Edith worked for several years as a comptometer operator for an oil company. She also worked on pack trips and trail rides in the Canadian Rockies and held a Class “A” guide’s license for the National Parks. For two years she accompanied her brother, Donald, as a camp cook on Buffalo Hunts in the Northwest Territories. 

She married Quentin Armstrong, of Nanton, in 1965. They raise cattle and horses on a ranch southwest of Nanton where they live with their three children, Margaret, Clem and Teddy.

Mange and the Cattle Dipping Program

an article from Big Hill Country

At the turn of the century mange in cattle was a serious problem in the eastern and southern parts of the Province where several large ranches were established. Some ranchers would dip their cattle while others would not, consequently mange was always present. So a program of compulsory dipping throughout the whole Province was made law in 1904-06. This plan was instigated by the Federal Government and was to be carried out for two years in succession which would rid the range of mange once and for all. 

 

Mange never occurred in the area between the Bow and Elbow Rivers but nevertheless, all the cattle had to be dipped. 

A dipping tank was constructed in 1904 to government specifications on the SE 14 12-25-5-5 which at that time had been reserved by the government for its water potential. 

The tank was made of cement. Water was pumped in by hand and heated by a series of pipes which were connected to a boiler of sorts that was heated by a wood fire. 

The first ten feet had about four inches of water in it which was to give the animal a little bit of confidence, then there was a sheer drop where complete immersion took place. 

After swimming a distance of about twenty feet or so, the cattle climbed out on a ramp that was long enough to allow most of the water to drain back into the tank. 

Corrals were built at both ends of the tank to provide holding pens so that a continuous flow of cattle would be going through the tank. 

At times there was trouble when a big old cow would get stuck and had to be hauled out by the cowboys with ropes and horses, or perhaps an ornery two-year-old heifer decided to turn back after getting halfway across. 

The solution this dip was made up of had to be inspected and tested for strength and temperature quite often. This was done by a government man who was there at all times. 

A story prevails that after about a week’s work, on the last day of dipping, the tank sprung a leak (unknown to the inspector) and it was almost impossible to keep enough water in for the cattle to immerse. Being the last day, one of the quick-thinking cowboys decided to hold a party in the inspector’s tent. A couple of bottles of liquor were acquired and that took care of all the government regulations, and the inspector. 

Did you like this story about ranching and cowboys? Here are a couple of earlier articles:

More Big Hill Country

Get your copy of More Big Hill Country. Sorry, Big Hill Country is out of print

Stories of the Seebe Dam and POW Camp

by Grace and Allen LeBel

The Historical Resource Committee of the M.D. of Bighorn has put together a fascinating series of videos that captures the oral history of the Bow Valley west of Cochrane.

In this video Grace and Allen LeBel relate stories of the Seebe dams and the prisoner of war camp at Ozada.

This is just one of the videos in this series. Follow the call to action button at the bottom of this blog to see the rest of the playlist.

Picture of carving from an article in Rocky Mountain Outlook.

LeBel playlist

Please subscribe and like the M.D. of Bighorns YouTube channel

In case you missed it, we have written about Seebe before:

Bearspaw Service Station

page 59 More Big Hill Country

The Post War years brought many changes to Calgary and the surrounding area, which inspired many War veterans to start new businesses. These were the times that brought Cliff Gillespie and Norm Newsome together. They started a small business in the Bearspaw area. In approximately 1946 they purchased a small parcel of land from Nick Hamilton. The land was located on the south side of the 1A highway, approximately

10 miles west of Calgary. On this land, they built a garage large enough to house and repair a milk truck they owned. As time went on Cliff Gillespie, who worked as a mechanic, decided to install gas pumps under the White Rose flag, turning the garage into a repair shop. 

In approximately 1947 Norm Newsome left the business and Cliff Gillespie took on a new partner, Ted Cushing. At this time the business took on a new name, the Bearspaw Service Station and a new Oil and Gas Company, Esso, which it is still today. It quickly became a very busy place with local farmers and residents gathering on a daily basis. It was not uncommon to find as many as a dozen people gathered at the station, especially on rainy days. Many world problems were solved at these times. 

In 1952 the service station became busy enough that Cliff and Ted hired Bob Thomas as their first employee and apprentice. In approximately 1963, Cliff bought Ted out and became the sole owner until 1973 when he sold the business. 

Cliff and Ted both built their personal homes on the land site and raised their families there for many years. The Gillespies were west of the garage, and the Cushings were on the east side of the garage. 

Cliff Gillespie and Ted Cushing met overseas during WWII and served in the same unit. Upon returning home from the war, Ted married Kathleen Gillespie (Cliff’s youngest sister) on December 14, 1946. Ted and Kath moved to Vancouver, B.C. shortly after they were married where Ted was going to re-enlist with the Army. Cliff contacted them with a proposal to move back to Bearspaw and open a service station in 1948. Ted agreed to a partnership with Cliff and they opened the Bearspaw Service Station in 1948. The partnership was dissolved between Ted and Cliff in 1963. Cliff continued to work at the service station until 1973, and Ted went to work in Calgary. 

Ted and Kath sold their house in Bearspaw in 1973 and moved to Cochrane, Kath passed away January 14, 1976, and Ted passed away on October 26, 1981. Ted and Kath had three children: Gordon, Lynda and Maureen. Gord married Bev in 1979 and they have two children, Shane (Heather) and Dawn (Joel). Lynda married John Brooks in 1973 and they have two children, Cheryl (Leo) St. Amour and Tracy Lee (Colin). They have one granddaughter, Caitlin St. Amour. Maureen married Gerry Nielsen in 1978 and they have two children, Bradley and Darcy. All their children and families currently reside in Calgary. 

Cliff Gillespie married Dorothy Johanson from Ferintosh in 1947. They raised two children, Leanna and Ronald. After selling the Bearspaw Service Station they moved to Water Valley. Cliff and Dorothy enjoyed the slower pace and became active in their new community. After Cliff’s death in 1981, Dorothy moved to Cochrane where she passed away in 2006. 

Leanna married Lorne Patemore. Ronald married Lynn Ellen Helgason. They have five children: Russel in Calgary, Mark in Spain, Ron Jr. a teacher in Coleman, Alberta, Chad in Nanaimo, British Columbia who is into music, and Tayah. Ron and Lynn live at Chestermere Lake, Alberta and do landscaping. 

Get your copy of More Big Hill Country

Visit our store and get your copy of our stories.

Mitford, The Sawmill and the Town

from Big Hill Country

T.B.H. Cochrane, son of Admiral Sir Thomas Cochrane of England, and his wife, Lady Adela Cochrane, daughter of the Earl of Stadbroke, were the founders of Mitford. The Cochranes were a remittance family that had come to Canada in 1883. They went to the High River area and acquired a large ranch lease of fifty-five thousand acres. This was southwest of High River, centred on Township fifteen, Range four. In 1885 they exchanged this lease for one around Township seventeen, Range six, west of the fourth meridian. There is no record of the leases being stocked. In 1886 the Cochranes decided to enter into the lumbering business and chose the subsequent site of Mitford to set up their sawmill business. 

Early in 1886, Tom Cochrane completed his sawmill. It was located three miles west of the present town of Cochrane, on the north side of the Bow River, a short distance from the point where the Canadian Pacific Railway crosses to the south bank of the Bow River. The sawmill was capable of turning out thirty thousand board feet of lumber per day, Tom Cochrane was associated with Hugh Graham, Francis White, and Archibald McVittie of the Calgary Lumber Company and contracted to supply them with lumber. Plans were made to build a rail line from Grand Valley to the sawmill but in the meantime, logs had to be hauled by teamsters, The sawmill went into operation in July 1886. A small steam engine was purchased and work began on building the track. This track was laid northward up Horse Creek Valley for one mile and then westward to Grand Valley, where a turnabout for the engine was built. The remainder of the track was made of wooden rails and extended northward to the Dog Pound Creek. Small horse-drawn cars were used to haul the logs along the wooden railway to the turnabout. 

There were several small stands of fir on the west side of Grand Valley, about five miles north of the Bow River. However, the ties and rails required for the wooden track very nearly used them up. Further north, on the Dog Pound, the timber was mainly spruce and pine. The result was that the best timber was used for the construction of the railroad and there was very little fir left for lumber. The timber limits lay in Townships 27, 28 and 29, Range five and in Townships 27, and 28 in Range six. The logs were hauled down the wooden track by local settlers who worked at a daily wage. The men were poorly supervised and the enterprise, as a whole, was poorly organized. The cars were continually jumping off the track and since the men were paid regardless of the amount of work done, no one helped the teamster whose car was derailed. The result was, hours were spent in idleness waiting for the track to be cleared. “Betsy” would be kept waiting at the turnabout and the mill would be idle. “Betsy” was the name given the engine that was used to haul the logs on the railway and the line was known as the “Betsy line.” Betsy showed an alarming tendency to jump the track. This always required several hours of work getting it ready for operation again. The grade from Horse Creek Valley was quite steep and the engine often ran away when returning with logs. 

In 1887 the townsite received its name. It was named in honour of Mrs. Percy Mitford, a sister of the first Earl of Egerton. Mrs. Mitford was a friend of Lady Adela and also had a financial interest in the Cochrane enterprises. 

The site that Tom Cochrane chose for the little town was very impracticable. It was at the confluence of the Bow River and the Horse Creek, on a low bench some two hundred yards wide and one half mile long. The steep hill to the north of the river and the townsite abutted on the river at the west end of the bench made an entrance from the north or south very difficult. Horse Creek Valley was narrow and it required considerable labour to build the grade for the “Betsy Track.” On the east, the Canadian Pacific Railway occupied the only good approach to the town, and it too was on a sharp incline. At Mitford, the railway and the river came together on a long angle and as a result, the flat between the river and the railway was very narrow. It was on this flat that Tom Cochrane built a store, hotel and a saloon. The only ford across the river was treacherous and of course, horses could not be taken across the railway bridge. On the south side of the river, the hills rose sharply and there were no satisfactory building sites. There is a certain picturesque beauty about the location but as a townsite, particularly a town that was hoped would expand, it was quite impossible. 

In the year 1888 several buildings were erected, among them a livery stable, as well as the store, and hotel. Prior to that, the Cochranes had built their own home, and several bunkhouses were erected for the men working in the sawmill and the coal mine. There had been some private homes built; these no doubt were for the people that operated businesses there. In 1889 Mitford received a Post Office. The first doctor to arrive in the area was Dr. Hayden who had come in 1888. With the sawmill going and the accidents on the Betsy Line, no doubt the doctor was kept busy. He operated a small drug store in connection with his medical practice.

In the year 1888, a fellow by the name of de Journal operated the store and hotel for Tom Cochrane. In 1890 the sawmill was closed down; it was not a success from the start. Count de Journal left the employ of Cochrane in 1890 and was succeeded by R. Smith in the hotel and A. Martin in the store. Mr. Smith had worked in the sawmill for three years before he started in the hotel. His daughter, Violet, was the first child born at Mitford in 1890. His daughter, Sadie, married L. V. Kelly, author of the book, “The Range Men.” 

 

In 1891 Lady Adela hired Miss Isabel Monilaws of Bruce County, Ontario, to teach school at Mitford. A school was opened in the old saloon, the first school between Calgary and Morleyville. In 1894 the following children attended school at Mitford: Harold, Leslie, Walter and Vera Towers.

 

Their father was a section man at Radnor and later became a rancher at Jumping Pound. Harry Jones and George Skinner, sons of ranchers north of Cochrane. Birdie Radcliffe, whose father operated a creamery at Big Hill Springs, and Mary, Everett and Joseph McNeil of the John McNeil family.

Miss Monilaws taught school for four years and in 1895 married J. Cooper. Mr. Cooper had been employed by Tom Cochrane at the mine and the sawmill and later at the brickyard. At the time of their marriage, Mr. Cooper was living on his ranch a few miles northwest of Mitford.

The Cochranes, having failed at the lumbering and coal mining ventures, decided to go into the manufacturing of bricks. The clay was hauled from a flat, two miles north of Mitford, by the locomotive. The brickyard consisted of three kilns, of a primitive type, and a number of drying sheds. Mr. Cooper was in charge of the yard. The bricks were of poor quality and expensive to make. The enterprise lasted two summers. 

Doctor Hayden had left Mitford in 1891 and Mr. Cowley came to take over the drug store. Joe Howard built a blacksmith shop one-half mile east of Mitford on the north side of the C.P.R. line. Tom Cochrane decided to build a bridge across the Bow River. It was located one hundred yards east of the railway bridge and consisted of two spans abutting in the middle of the river on a small island. It was a toll bridge for a short time, the fees being five cents for an individual to walk across and ten cents for a team and wagon. 

In 1892 an Anglican Church was built on the hill northeast of the town. Lady Adela collected funds in England and she herself contributed some money to build the church. Many of the furnishings were given by Lady Adela. 

The brickyard was the last business venture of the Cochrane family in this area. It was abandoned in 1893. Betsy was sold to a lumber mill near Golden, British Columbia. The track was taken up and the industrial life of Mitford came to an end. The C.P.R. had never liked to stop at Mitford at any time and finally cancelled regular stops there in 1893. Trains proceeding east and stopping at Mitford were forced to back up a half-mile in order to make the grade out of town. Westbound trains always came to a halt with the engine on the bridge and this was dangerous. The local children soon discovered that a small amount of grease applied to the track caused some worry to the track crews, especially when the trains were going west; they slid right through the town before they could stop. The next three years saw the final abandonment of Mitford. Mr. Martin and Mr. Howard moved to the town of Cochrane and started businesses there. Tom Cochrane decided to enter politics and he ran against Frank Oliver in the election for the House of Commons in 1896 and

was defeated. Shortly after that, the Cochranes returned to England. Tom Cochrane’s sister was a Lady in Waiting to Princess Beatrice of Battenberg. The Princess was Governor of the Isle of Wight. Tom Cochrane’s sister managed to get an appointment for him as Deputy Governor. By 1898 the town of Mitford was deserted, the fire had destroyed many of the buildings and most of the population had left. The Anglican Church was moved to the town of Cochrane and is still there today. All that remains of Mitford is the tiny cemetery on the land where the Anglican Church once sat. The cemetery and the church were on an acre of land purchased by the church in England. 

Included in this story of Mitford are excerpts taken from the diary of Mrs. Algernon St. Maur. Mrs. St. Maur was a friend of Lady Adela and came to Mitford to visit the Cochranes. After going back to England from a visit to Mitford, she wrote the book “Impressions of a Tenderfoot.” 

The book was published in 1890 and the excerpts are from that book. 

 

FROM THE DIARY OF MRS. ALGERNON ST. MAUR

 “May 31st. We have a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains here, and on a fine morning it is difficult to believe they are sixty miles away; we are surrounded by fine undulating prairie. The cattle are fat and sleek, though they have had nothing but what they could find on the range all winter. The great drawback here is the frost at night, even in summer there is often enough to injure the potatoes and wheat. Adela and I amused ourselves planting the garden; we sowed cabbages, lettuce, cauliflower, carrots, beets and beans. The soil is surprisingly rich; one digs nearly a yard deep and still it is the same good brown loam. 

“The sawmill and the house are close to the C.P.R.; at the former fifty men are at work. Their wages are from twenty to thirty dollars a month, and they are boarded as well. A private railway brings the logs down from the forest, they are sawn up here and put in the cars for market. 

“N–, Tom C– and Algernon have been busy this morning making a garden fence. They are also building a new hen house; the latter requires to be well put together, to keep out the cold in winter and has double walls with sawdust filled up between. Dug out hen houses with turf also make warm shelter, only a few have stoves, and often the claws of the poor birds get frost Bitten. The cat here has had her ears frozen off; fortunately they are both gone just at the same place, and give her the appearance of having her ears cropped.” 

(Tom C was Tom Cochrane and Algernon was her husband, Mr. St. Maur. N remains unknown, although it is possible that he was the Earl of Norbury who lived for a time with the Cochranes.) 

“June 1st.  Mr. Kerfoot, a neighbour, and one of the best riders and drivers in the northwest drove Adela’s ponies on the buckboard. They have been on the prairies for six months; when taken up they often require rebreaking. One of them lay down twice, bucked, and made a great fuss. Mr. Kerfoot drove them patiently and well. The harness and buckboard both of American make were perfectly adapted to the rough roads and prairie work. These carriages, owing to the wide axle, are almost impossible to upset, and one can drive them where no English carriage could go. The harness enables the horses to go quite independently of each other; the pole pieces, instead of being, as in England, fast to the head of the pole, are here attached to a short bar called the yoke which works loosely on the end of it, and also gives the horses a straight pull in holding back. 

“We all started on the private railway to see the timber limits, which are fifteen miles distant. A truck was arranged for us to sit on in front of the engine, the latter pushing us along. The men in charge drove too fast, and when we had gone about three miles we felt several great jolts, the truck had left the rails and upset; most fortunately for us, one of the wheels got wedged in the sand and the brakeman, having put on the brakes, stopped the engine. For a few moments, there was an awful feeling of suspense; we all expected the engine would come crashing down on top of us; happily, however, this did not occur,

else we might have all been killed. On regaining our feet we found the only person badly injured was the brakeman; the poor fellow lay under the engine with three bad wounds in his head and his ear almost severed from the scalp. With difficulty, he was extricated from his perilous position and while the C–s and Algernon remained with him, N– and I went for assistance. 

“The Doctor came quickly, a wagon followed, the poor fellow was soon in his little bed at the sawmill, and wonderful to relate, though so terribly injured, and with a badly fractured skull, he recovered. It is always much in favour of these men during an illness that they have lived a hardy out-of-door life.

 “June 2nd Drove to the British American Co’s sheep ranche. The manager was away but his housekeeper gave us a luncheon, afterwards, we went fishing. 

“June 4th Ten degrees of frost last night. Algernon went for a ride with Mr. Kerfoot, and in the afternoon we all rode over to his horse ranche. The horses are most clever in avoiding the gopher holes, and if given their head they can go at any pace over them without making a mistake. At the ranche we saw more than a hundred horses. The corrals are wonderfully arranged, three openings into each other. When the band of horses has been driven into the first which is the largest, the horses required for branding or breaking are separated from the rest and the gate being opened, is turned into the second corral. The entrance into the third corral is by a very high strong gate, so arranged as to swing around against the side of this corral with just space for a horse to stand between. A single horse is now let through this gate, which is swung around holding him against the side of the third corral so that he is helpless and cannot fight or hurt himself being branded or bridled. 

“June 6th On the other side of the Bow River is a canyon known as the Jumping Pound, over the edge of which the hunters used to drive the buffalo, and in this canyon, their bones still lie in places two and three feet deep. They are now being taken away and used for manure. A band of Blackfoot Indians passed today; the Chief, “Three Plumes”, rode up to the house to show his permit, which is given by the Indian Agent to enable them to leave their reservations for a stated time; this band had been on a visit to the Stoney Indians. (We have since heard that the guests on leaving stole thirty horses.) 

“June 14th Until this morning we have not seen the Rockies for a week. Innumerable wildflowers grow on the prairie; last month there were anemones of all colours, and in a few weeks there will be masses of dog rose and wild honeysuckle; it is a kind provision of nature that this wild rose is so hardy, it stands even the extreme cold of

winter and grows from the root each year. The doctor, who is a botanist, sent a collection of wildflowers which he had made, to Kew Gardens to be classified. We went to see the coal mine that was discovered three years ago, the first traces of coal being seen at the mouth of a badger’s hole. Adela and I only went in as far as the first galley, where we met a man and horse bringing up a truck of coal to the mouth; the others all departed along with a similar galley, each carrying a Davy lamp; as yet there is little danger of gas, the workings being quite near the surface.

 “June 18th Adela’s sitting hens require a lot of running after, half-wild and fleet as hares, they appear to have a strange dislike to returning to the nest, so we have to get some of the men to help us run them down. Two ranchers came to luncheon today – true types, I should think, of Western men. I hear that their father in England is a rich man, but he seems to do little for his sons. They work hard, even washing all their own clothes and cooking, and it is not therefore to be wondered at, that they look rough. The usual dress out here is a blue flannel shirt, with no collar, but a coloured handkerchief tied loosely round the neck, a buckskin shirt, a pair of leather chaps with fringes down the seams, worn over trousers, boots and a broad-brimmed felt hat with a leather band around it, which is generally stamped with patterns and ornamented in some way. 

“June 21st Today we visited the forest or timber limits, starting early. The ride was quite delightful, as we cantered up and down these limitless plains of grass, with the mountains stretching away into the dim distance as far as the eye could reach, and extending in Canada alone for eight hundred miles. Tares of many shades, pea vine, wild camomile, bugle flowers and many other wildflowers we saw as we rode along, also myrtles, gooseberries and dog roses. Occasionally a few prairie hen rose in front of us, and flew away, wondering doubtless at having been disturbed. As we came into view of the log house where some of the lumbermen live, we saw the forest beneath us. We rode four miles further, over somewhat marshy ground, then after descending a rather precipitous path, we found ourselves at a place which goes by the name of Dog Pound Creek; the horses were all picketed out, the harness and saddles having been removed. 

Madam d’Artigue and her husband and sister (French people from the Basque Provinces) are in charge of this ranche for someone who lives in Calgary. It was quite a pleasure to see their beautifully managed poultry yards. There were hundreds of chickens of all ages and sizes, rows of boxes for the sitting hens with one hen in each all arranged the same and in a practical manner peculiar to French people. There is an excellent market for poultry in the northwest; they told me that for a capon they got one dollar and seventy-five cents in Calgary.

“June 24th-Sunday, In the evening we had a service from a travelling minister, about half the men came; the hymns selected by him were not at all cheerful nor bright, and his sermon was not suitable in any way to the requirements of his listeners, which one regretted.

“June 25th Rather a tragic termination to our visit was caused by another accident on the railway. In the evening we heard the mill whistleblowing violently, and found that the engine, returning with four trucks of lumber, had been thrown off the rails; the engineer got jammed between the engine and the logs, and had his leg broken in two places; but such is the toughness of these men that when being carried down we heard him joking with the others about not yet needing to be carried feet first, though he must have been suffering great pain.”

Its been two years since the Flood

It’s been two years since the Big Hill Springs Creek flooded and caused significant damage to the Cochrane Historical Museum. Here is the story told in pictures.

 

Flood at twilight
Flood Night West Under Lights
Flood at night Frank Hennessey on Steps
Flood Night Rear
Basement Damage

Recovery Begins

Cochrane Fire Service assisting
Town crew pumping with Frank Hennessey
East side Daylight
Larry Want on Basement Steps
Cochrane Ranche Gate

Repairs Begin

Adding Topsoil West Side
Adding soil southwest side
Adding soil museum rear
Gravel Overlay
Gravel Berm West Side
Downstairs is rebuilt
Water damage up the walls requiring replacement

Where we are today

Downstairs Rebuilt
Stairs after rebuild

Related blogs

Early History of the Rafter 6 Guest Ranch

Rick Guinn; MD of Bighorn Oral History Interview

Rick Guinn is interviewed about a familiar sight in the Bow Valley,  the History of the Rafter 6 Guest Ranch. In the second video he talks about trading horses with his neighbours in the Stoney Nakoda First Nation.

Thanks once again the History Heritage Resource Committee of the M.D. of Bighorn for these interviews and photos.

More Interviews are available

View the whole playlist here and remember to like and subscribe the M.D. Bighorn's YouTube channel.

Burning Outhouse gets Residents Hopping Mad

By Allan and Belle Hall

In firefighting, water is always the main item so in the early 1950s the council, headed by Mayor Barney Klassen decided we were going to have a water system and made plans accordingly. I was offered the job as fire chief, and I was to go to #1 fire hall in Calgary for a week’s training in an instructor’s course. Passing with a mark of 86 percent and returning home, I got together a brigade and we held lectures all summer. The Calgary course was in May 1954, and the council didn’t purchase a rig until September of the same year. 

For the council, water was a big problem. They drilled three wells in the coulee as you start up the Big Hill, on the north side of the road. The council put in a 60,000-gallon storage tank. The wells were entirely inadequate and soon went dry and this upset the ordinary wells that were in the east end of town. 

As diesel engines on the CPR line didn’t require water, the council made arrangements to use the CPR four-inch line that ran from the CPR station east along the tracks to a point in the river, just north of Griffins farm. This set-up worked fine for a while, but soon the old line fell apart. The pressure of water was too much for it. The next step was a new line south from town to the river, which is used today. Seven hydrants were installed, mostly near the business section of town. 

The next thing was how to alert the brigade. In the early days, church bells or phones were used. The alarm issue was solved when we approached the phone office staff. They had a list of phone numbers of firemen and when an alarm was phoned in, the two operators phoned firemen immediately. This alarm system worked well for a number of years until the phone office was done away with. We then went to an electric sentry machine located in the Firehall. When an alarm was phoned in, the machine activated the siren. The first man there tore the tape off the machine which gave the location of fire etcetera. This didn’t work because kids and drunks thought it was a big joke to phone in an alarm and we were chasing false alarms. The next step was to put five phones in various members’ homes. These phones were just for fire and rang only when the fire number was dialled. 

After we had our engine for a while, Alan MacDonald and I decided we would see how well the brigade would act if we were not there. As there was no more use for outside toilets, we asked the council if we could have the big old double toilet that sat behind the community hall. Sure, they said get rid of it. Undercover of darkness and with the aid of a tow truck, we placed it northwest of the Rebekah Hall about where Dr. Kelly’s office is now. Filling the interior with about 20 old car tires with about five gallons of used car oil, topped off with a couple of gallons of gas. 

As I worked at the Texaco garage, we set our watches and 10 p.m. sharp 1 was to turn in the alarm from the garage and Alan would light the fire. The night was very dark and everything went as planned. What we didn’t plan on was the reaction of the local residents. The fire flared up quickly, causing a huge glow as gas and oil went heavenward. The brigade acted promptly and had the fire out in 10 minutes flat. However, Ernie Andison, the butcher, had run all the way from his place, half-dressed. When he found out what had happened, he lit into me. “A scatterbrained lunatic” and a few more choice words that must have blistered the paint on the house nearby. A few more of the residents were upset and we were not too popular.

Firehall 1950

From a Peep into the Past Volume 1 by Gordon and Belle Hall

Beaupre Tales by Paul Gibson

Paul Gibson was interviewed by the Oral History Project of the M.D. of Bighorn.  He talks about the Beaupre Scout Troop and shaking the hand of the Queen in the first video featured.

In the second he talks about the one in a million chance of meeting someone familiar with Jamieson Road while walking in Hyde Park, West London.

Watch the entire Playlist

Paul Gibson talks about living and working in the Jamieson Road Area. Once there, please remember to subscribe to the M.D. Bighorn channel.

Photos and Videos courtesy of the Oral History Project, M.D. of Bighorn.

Zuccolo Family

Catherine Parrine Zuccolo By Wendy Vaughan

Catherine Zuccolo, affectionately known as “Aunt Katy” to all her nieces and nephews, and “Katy” by everyone else, had a wide variety of interests. She graduated from Normal School in Calgary during the 1930s, a time when jobs were not easy to come by. Katy taught in several schools over the years but also cooked for various bridge and oil well crews for a period of time. When Grandma and Grandpa Zuccolo retired to Cochrane, Aunt Katy was always there to look after them during periods of illness. She spent some time out on Saturna Island where Grandpa had property in the late 1940s. Katy was very well-read; she could discuss nearly any topic intelligently. She taught many things to many of her nieces and nephews over the years.

She was very interested in health issues, and many of us received her lectures on vitamins and proper eating habits – long before such topics were acceptable! She was also a very spiritual person who led by example 

She was kind, thoughtful and generous with her time when it came to helping her sisters and their families during busy times. 

Katy was also an avid gardener. She had a good-sized garden at the house in Cochrane and raised most of her own vegetables which she could store in her basement from one season to another. She always had beautiful peonies and roses growing at the front of her house. Like Uncle Johnny, she was always building, fixing and tinkering with things. She was never afraid to try new things. She started skiing when she was 65.

She was an excellent cook. In my mind, no one made apple pie as good as Aunt Katy, not even Mum, and her apple pies were very good. However, I have often seen a resemblance to Aunt Katy in our daughter, Alberta. In my opinion, besides certain personality traits, Alberta has Aunt Katys knack for baking good pies. Aunt Katy would be proud of this if she were here today. Aunt Katy has left us many fond memories

Matilda (Richards) Zuccolo Family By Wendy (Richards) Vaughan 

The story of the Richards and Zuccolo families from the early 1900s when they both arrived in the Morley and Cochrane areas, respectively, is recorded in the original Big Hill Country book published in 1977. There is some overlap of the stories due to the dates involved, but I have chosen to pick up on the stories of the members of the Zuccolo family which stayed in the Cochrane area after the first book was written, and on the whole, to add to rather than repeating the original histories

My parents, Matilda (Tillie) Zuccolo and Jim Richards were married on October 27, 1937. They met in 1931 when Tillie was teaching the Tom Lauder children. Tillie was a graduate of “Normal School” in Calgary, a two year program which at that time was the graduating school for teachers. Tom Lauder and his family were working for Laycocks (located west of Cochrane, Alberta now known as Jamieson Road), and Tillie lived with them and taught the Lauder children from September of 1931 through to January of 1933. The romance did not truly blossom how ever, until Tillie was teaching Laurie and Jean Johnson’s girls in 1936.

After Jim and Tillie married they lived on Jim’s homestead North of Morley. They moved a log cabin which Tillie owned up to the homestead. The cabin had been located on Guy Gibson’s Soldier grant down by the Ghost River. For the next five years, they worked in the mountains for Fred Brewster during the summers and lived on their homestead in the winters. While they worked in the mountains, mainly out of Jasper, Jim acted as a big game guide and Tillie cooked. They had many interesting experiences while in the mountains, and it is unfortunate Mum did not write these up, as most of them are now lost forever. They took out many hunters from the U.S. and had both great and not-so-great trips. Big game hunters now only dream of getting game that was commonplace to shoot then. 

Tillie recalls that times were not always easy to back in the late 1930s and early 1940’s when she and Jim were first married. Guy Gibson had given her a mare and colt for a wedding present, and in 1944 she sold the old mare with the four colts that she had by then. She had to add $2.00 to the money received for the mare and colts to buy their cream separator which cost $39.40. 

Jim and Tillie settled down permanently to ranching in 1943 when their daughter, Wendy, was born. A son, Doug, was born in 1946. 

Over the years, they increased their range cattle herd and also milked 5 or 6 cows every summer and shipped the cream. They would take it to Morley where it would be picked up by the train and taken to a creamery in Calgary. Jim also hayed for the Lindners at the Two Rivers Ranch west of Cochrane every summer from the late 1940s to mid-1950s. Dad also became the councillor for the Improvement District in his area in the 1960s and also sat on the Rockyview Hospital Board. When he passed away in March of 1976, they asked Mum to take his place, which she did. She remained active as a Councillor and on the Hospital Board until her illness prevented her from attending to her duties at which time she resigned in early 1985. 

A few items about our family as I (Wendy) remember growing up. I recall well the early days at home when Uncle Bill and Uncle Audley were living on their homestead next to Dad’s. The recollection I most remember is that they always rode in on horseback, and Uncle Audley, particularly, often corralled horses at our place. (See the poem, Uncle Audley, A vanishing Breed). I recall Dad and Uncle Audley bringing in numbers of horses, especially in the spring, and pulling their manes and tails. The horsehair was then stuffed into gunny sacks and weighed and sold by the pound. I also remember that it was not taken too kindly if someone pulled the tails of another party’s horses. 

My brother, Doug, never went to school, and I only went to school in grade 12. We took all the rest of our school by correspondence. Some of the local kids wondered how we could stand doing school at home, but we thought it was O.K. as we were able to work hard some days and take days off if we wanted to go somewhere or do other things. Also, we usually had our work done at least a month ahead of kids in school and enjoyed long summer holidays to do as we wished. Our close neighbours were the Dawsons and the next closest were the Wasson’s (about 8 miles by horseback). We would often ride to each other’s places to visit and play and as we were all in the same age group, we had a lot of good times together. One of our favourite sports was to go out on the “Point”, a flat area on the south side of the Ghost River where the land was quite flat and reasonably smooth for a couple of miles. Here we would line up our ponies and have horse races, which I’m sure would not have been totally approved of by our respective parents had they known of them at the time. I remember that my old white mare, Josephine, would often win some of these races. 

It was a difficult time for our family when Dad (Jim) passed away in 1976 from a heart attack. Mum (Tillie) remained in the home place and finished the new house which she and Dad had started. Mum passed away in November of 1985 following an eight-month struggle with bone cancer. Five years before she had gone through surgery for breast cancer, and had been given a clean bill of health only a couple of months prior to being diagnosed with bone cancer. 

Wendy married Walter Vaughan of the Dog Pound area (see The Vaughan’s story). They now live on the Vaughan place east of Bottrel. They have two daughters, Alberta (Corey) Telfer and Amanda (Roggero Ciofani). Alberta and Corey blessed us with our first grandchild, Una Vaughan Telfer on May 5th, 2007. They are currently residing in Edmonton, while Amanda and Roggero are living in Saskatoon. 

Doug married Jill Harries of Calgary (also a school teacher), and they reside on Tillie and Jim’s home place. They have two sons, Jimmy and Billy. 

I have included three poems with this write-up, one about Mum, one about Dad and one about Uncle Audley. They tell a lot about their lifestyle. I hope you enjoy them.

John Peter Zuccolo By Wendy Vaughan

“Uncle Johnny” the only son of Tom and Angelina Zuccolo, born April 18, 1907, was loved by all his nieces and nephews, and many of them experienced at least one fishing trip with him in either Spray Lakes or Kananaskis. Fishing was his passion, but I only got to go with him twice, we never got a single bite either time and we were out for several days, so I was bad luck!! He read a lot and always had new ideas for doing or building things. 

He was also very mechanical and was always fixing or tinkering with mechanical items from small engines to vehicles and farm equipment. After the Zuccolo farm was sold in the late 1940’s he moved onto a small piece of land on the Horsecreek northwest of Cochrane. He worked for several farmers off and on over the years including George Perrenoud and Tom Hardy. In the late 1960’s he built a small cabin by the lake at Richards’ where he resided until his passing in 1990. 

Uncle Johnny was like a beaver, he was always building something. At the same time, he would profess that he didn’t like carpentry work! He and his Dad were responsible for building a number of large barns, some of which are still standing northwest of Cochrane. They also worked with other members of the community in building the Dartique Hall. 

He was also very creative building various items with light and dark cedar. His outhouse was a masterpiece! Many of us have items Uncle Johnny built with light and dark cedar.

He also lost his right leg just below the knee in a motorcycle accident in California in the late 1940s, but this did not hamper him from doing many things. Most people would not know he had a wooden leg if they had not been told. He spent his entire life in the Cochrane area. He was quite shy but liked kids, and once you got to know him he could be quite a tease with a good sense of humour. 

John passed away on August 16, 1990. 

Thomas and Angelina Zuccolo Family by Wendy Vaughan

Please see the complete history of the Zuccolo family in the first Big Hill Country book. They immigrated to Slocan, British Columbia in 1905 from Italy two weeks after they were married. However, Grandpa had come to Canada in 1903. As Grandpa could not see a future in the Slocan Valley, he purchased the W Sec 5 Twp 28 Range 4 W5M in the Horse Creek area. In 1919 he moved from British Columbia with his wife, Angelina, and their children: Mary, John, Catherine (Katy), Elsie, Matilda (Tillie), and Adelma (Pete). Alma (Slim) was born on January 28, 1920, after their arrival in Alberta. 

 

They farmed this land until they sold it in 1948, currently owned by Buck Miller. They bought a small house in Cochrane, two houses to the right and against the hill as you go up the road to the Cochrane High School. They resided in Cochrane where Grandpa was an avid gardener. He also did odd carpenter, yard and miscellaneous jobs for Cochrane residents for many years. Granny (Angelina) passed away on April 14, 1956, at the age of 73. Grandpa (Thomas) passed away on January 4, 1965, at the age of 89. Their daughter, Katy, lived with them and took care of them during their senior years and took over the house after they passed on. 

Mary married Mel Hodgkins in November of 1932. At the time Mel was a trooper in the Lord Strathcona’s Horse. They lived in Calgary and later moved to Ontario where Mel was a member of the Ontario Provincial Police until he retired. They had three children: Olive, Owen and Allen. Mary died in 2004 at the age of 97. 

In 1944 Elsie married Dr. Eric Putt, an agronomist, when they were both working in Hamilton, Ontario. Elsie, who worked at Westinghouse, helped to turn out guns and other war material for the Canadian Forces. They moved to Altona, Manitoba and later to Morden, Manitoba where Eric worked at the Agriculture Research Station. Elsie and Eric had four children: 

David, Laurel, Keith and Neal, prior to Elsies untimely passing in 1956 with cancer

In 2003 the 100th Anniversary of the Zuccolo Family’s arrival in Canada was celebrated at Doug and Jill Richards. It was an awesome event with fifteen of Thomas and Angelina’s grandchildren present, plus spouses, and great grandchildren. Only one grandchild was unable to attend. Alma (Slim) was the only one of their children able to attend. Mary was still alive but not well enough to come. It was a great time. We made quite an extensive family history book for each leg of the family with each of the grandchildren receiving a copy. This is already proving to be a family treasure. 

Uncle Audley - A Vanishing Breed By Wendy Vaughan

He was tall and slim 

With a twinkle in his eye 

His Stetson hat was gray 

The kind with the crown real high. 

 

He always rode a horse 

That a cowboy would call good. 

Meaning he could do some work 

And take you down the road. 

 

Uncle Audley was a horseman 

A little hard, some would say 

But you knew horse he rode 

Could pack you night and day. 

 

His left arm had been injured 

And had healed up at an angle, 

But this was no deterrent 

When it came time for him to wrangle. 

 

One day I saw him bring in 

A wild bunch all alone, 

Corralled them at our place 

Then cut out the stud – a big bald faced blue roan.

 

He took the rope down off his saddle 

And with the coils on his left arm 

He front-footed that big stud 

And brought him to the ground. 

 

His moves were smooth and quiet 

And as he tied that big horse up 

He saw me watching through the logs, 

And asked me to get some table salt from Moth 

metal cup. 

 

He was waiting when I returned, 

I passed it to his bloodstained hand 

And watched him fill the empty pockets, 

The horse – no longer king of his wild band. 

 

I think if this day whenever 

I see horsemen without skills, 

Who call out vets in white coats 

With tranquilizer guns and pills. 

 

Yes, Uncle Audley, 

It leaves me sad to think 

That you were one of a special breed, 

That’s now almost extinct.

The Day Mother Shot A Bear By Wendy Vaughan

She was blessed with many talents 

A few with you I’ll share

Before I relate to you the tale

Of the day she shot a bear. 

 

Mum could paint a landscape

With the stroke of her oil brush

Or photograph a mountain flower 

Or a bird in the underbrush. 

 

When we were young she made 

All the clothes we had

From shirts, jeans and moccasins,

To those buckskin coats for Dad.

 

I remember when just knee high

An embroidered satin shirt she made 

For Chuck Simeon to wear

To the Calgary Stampede Parade. 

 

Her homemade brown bread 

Was far and wide renowned

But for me, it was wild blueberry pie

For which she should be crowned. 

 

Mother was a crack shot 

With a Twenty-Two

For backshot squirrels were worthless 

When Simpson & Lee paid you. 

 

She could milk a cow or stretch a wire 

And packed water from the well

To wash our clothes, and sawed the wood 

To heat it with as well. 

 

She loved to pick wild berries 

When summer came along

And would ride six miles to the berry patch, 

With syrup tins hanging from the thongs. 

 

And whether the beauty of a butterfly

Or pulling quills from our old dog,

She taught us kids to respect 

The handiwork of God. 

 

And at Thanksgiving time each year 

She’d take the Twenty-Two

And with us kids she’d walk the woods 

‘Till we got a ruffled grouse or two. 

 

She’d shoot them through the head 

And we’d skin them on the spot

So why wouldn’t we be proud of her 

When a bear she finally shot? 

 

It was back there in the 60’s 

When Banff had problem bears

They’d paint their butts and tag their ears 

And truck them out of there. 

 

Then dump them in the foothills 

And let the ranchers rant

At these pesky Park dump bears 

Who’d never learned to hunt. 

 

Well Mum was home alone this day 

When she heard a noise outside

And there was a scruffy blackbear 

Pawing the anthill in our yard. 

 

The anthill beneath a poplar tree

Was 20 yards from our front door

And Mother anxious at a bear so close

Thought she’d give him a little scare. 

 

So taking Dad’s 30/30 down 

She levered in a shell

Aimed it at the bear’s thick neck

And pulled the trigger, well – 

 

That bear dropped right where he stood 

And never moved again

Then as Mum’s luck would have it

Our neighbour, Fred*, drove in. 

 

When Mum answered the door 

Fred looked around to see

Who might have shot that bear

That lay tagged beneath the tree? 

 

The gun was resting on the door jam 

So she told her tale to Fred 

And he who loved to talk and tea

Did not linger, for he had news to spread. 

 

We had no phones in those days

But with Fred the news would pass 

On down the valley quickly

Like a fire in prairie grass. 



Place Names – Complete Listing

by Sonia Turner

Note: Wherever possible, land locations have been listed in brackets. The land location of a creek is that of the mouth of the creek. References for this information include Dominion Topographical maps and the Gazetteer of Canada. 

Atkinson Creek (30-28-6-5) – flows into the Little Red Deer River, and called Beaver Creek by local Indians. 

Aylmer, Mount (27-11-5) – elevation 10,375 feet. Situated north of Lake Minnewanka. It is a prominent mountain easily perceived from the Cochrane area. Named in 1890 by J. J. McArthur, Dominion Land Surveyor, after his hometown of Aylmer, Quebec. 

Bateman Creek (8-24-6-5) – named after the Tom Bateman family, pioneers of Jumping Pound district. 

Bateman Ridge (24-25-4-5) – located in the Jumping Pound area, and named after the Bateman family. 

Baynes House Valley – named for the large house in the valley built by Baynes, one-time partner of A. P. Patrick at the Mount Royal Ranch. 

Benchlands – terraces on the Ghost River, named by Guy Gibson. 

Buffalo Crossing – a crossing on the Ghost River below Benchlands, named by Guy Gibson because of the evidence of buffalo crossing. Nearby, ancient Indian artifacts have been found, including a 12,000-year-old projectile point. 

Burnt Ground – an area northeast of Cochrane, where a fire burned in 1895. As the willow roots burned, depressions were formed, leaving the ground very rough. 

Beaupré – a locality north of 1A Highway about ten miles west of Cochrane. Named after Louis Beaupré, an early settler who bought squatter’s rights there. 

Beaupré Creek (15-26-5-5) – flows through the Beaupré district. 

Beaupré Hill (27-5-5) – a prominent landmark in the district. 

Beaupré Creek School District No. 4182 – was established in 1925. Beaver Dam Creek (10-30-3-5) – rises in the west side of the Weedon district, flows through Mortimer Coulee, and winds on the northeast. So named because of the numerous beavers in it. 

Beaver Dam School District No. 1056 – established in 1904. Still in operation as a small consolidated school. Located one and one-half miles south of Madden. 

Behanhouse Creek – named after Behanhouse. Behan was a cook on a survey party in 1912. 

Big Hill (25-26-3-5) – the hill below which Cochrane is situated. Early maps show it as Manachaban Hill, which is its Blackfoot name. The apex of the Big Hill is about two miles east of the town. 

Big Hill Creek (34-25-4-5) — flows into the Bow River just west of Cochrane, below Big Hill. Big Hill Springs Provincial Park – located six miles northeast of Cochrane in the Big Hill Creek coulee. 

Blackrock Mountain (27-9-5) – elevation 9,580 feet. Readily visible from the Cochrane area. It is a sharp black peak. 

Bottrel (21-28-44-5) – named after A. E. Botterell, and misspelled when officially recorded. At one time several businesses were located there; presently there is a store and a small municipal park. 

Bottrel Road – often called the Dog Pound Road, now designated as Highway 22. Bow River – so named because the Indians obtained wood for bow making along its banks. 

Bow River Fort, or Old Bow Fort (25-7-5) – was the Hudson’s Bay Company fort built on the Bow River in 1833 to promote the fur trade with Indians of the area. Situated at the junction of the Bow River and Bow Fort Creek. It was also known as Piegan Post. 

Brooks Ridge (10-27-6-5) – named after Frank Brooks, the original owner of Brooks Sawmills.

Bryant Creek (9-24-6-5) – located southwest of Jumping Pound, and named after the Bryant family. Alfred Bryant was a forest ranger in that area. 

Caldbeck Post Office (NW 14 4-27-5-5) – named after Caldbeck, Wigton, Cumberland, England, the home of John Peel. 

Chapelton School District No. 1812 – established in 1909. Since the school was in Horse Creek district, the name of the school district was changed to Horse Creek School District in 

Clemens Hill School District No. 4859 – established in 1939, and named after Joe Clemens, pioneer homesteader of the Jumping Pound district. 

Coal Creek – named after the coal deposits at its mouth. Flows through Grand Valley. 

Cochrane (2,3-26-4-5) – situated on the southwest slope and at the base of the Big Hill. Named after Senator M. H. Cochrane (1823 1903), who established the Cochrane Ranche in 1881.

Cochrane Lakes (27,34-26-4-5) – named after W. F. Cochrane, son of Senator M. H. Cochrane of the Cochrane Ranche Company. The lakes are about four miles north of 1A Highway, and west of Highway 22.

Cochrane Lakes School District No. 1947 – established in 1909. 

Cochrane Ridge – located on top of the Big Hill; the ridge is the backbone of the hill. This land is presently being subdivided into 20-acre plots. 

Cope Creek (14-25-5-5) – named after the Cope family, early homesteaders in the area. Cope Ridge (25-5-5) – also named after the Cope family. 

Copithorne Ridge (25-4-5) – located in the Jumping Pound district and named after the Copithorne family, early homesteaders. 

Crawford Plateau (25-5-5) – located in the Jumping Pound district, and named after Arthur Crawford 

Dartigue School District No. 3814 – established in 1919 and named after John Dartigue. A school was never built in the district, due to the small population of school-age children at any one time. Those that did live within the boundaries of the district attended either Chapelton, West Brook or Mount Hope schools. 

Deadman Hill — situated between the Ghost and Bow Rivers; it is believed to be the hill west of the Ghost in the angle it makes with the Bow. In Cree, it was called “chipei watchi.” Hector states that slain Indians were buried in a grave in the woods on top of the hill. 

Deer Springs (2-29-5-5) – located in Winchell Coulee, and so-called because it is frequented by deer.

Desert, The – the high plateau in Township 27, Range 4 that had a very arid, treeless appearance in the dry years of the 1930s. 

Devil’s Head Mountain (27-9-5) – elevation 9, 174feet. Its name is a translation of the Cree name “we-ti-kwas-ti-kan;” in Stoney, “si ham-pa” Tyrell). It was stated by Sir George Simpson that the mountain “bears a resemblance to an upturned face.” 

Dog Pound (29-3-5) – a locality that derives its name from a Cree name, but its origin is not clear. Presently it is a hamlet on the Crossfield – Cremona railway. 

Dog Pound Creek – rises in the Rabbit Lake Indian Reserve and flows in a northeasterly direction. 

DP Valley – runs through the Mount Royal Ranch. 

Dream Hill – believed to be one of the most southerly of the Wildcat Hills. Dr. Hector passed through here in 1858 on one of his explorations. 

Dry Lake (SW14 10-28-4-5) – located in the West Brook area. The land was homesteaded by Marston Brothers; now owned by Mike Harbidge. 

Fallen Timber Creek (32-7-5) – name self explanatory. 

Fricke Creek (28-5-5) – named after Hank Fricke who homesteaded in the area. 



Fuller Pass – between Aura Ranger Station and the Little Red Deer River. Named after Jerry Fuller. 

Garlin Corner – located at the intersection of the Grand Valley road and the road running east between Townships 27 and 28; named after Louis Garlin, whose land corners the intersection.

Ghost Lake (9-26-6-5) – the flooded area formed by the Ghost Dam. There is now a village on the north shore of the lake. The Ghost River flows into the Bow just above the dam. Ghost River (26-6-5) – appeared on the Palliser map of 1860 as Dead Man River. There were said to be many Indian graves along the river. A ghost is supposed to have been going up and down the river picking up the skulls of those who had been slain by the Crees. There are several other legends also. 

Gillies Hill – on the south part of the Gillies family’s homestead. 

Glendale Road – runs north from Highway 1A, then angles northeast to join the Lochend road. In the early years the Glendale road was the route from Cochrane to the area around the Lochend Post Office. 

Grand Valley – named by Donald McEachen, who exclaimed “Aye! It’s a grand valley!” 

Grand Valley School District No. 559 – established in 1900. The old log school is still standing in a field on the old McEachen farm. 

Grease Creek (35-28-6-5) – a tributary of the Little Red Deer River. It receives its name from the greasewood or black birch brush growing along the creek, so named by Sir James Hector, who called them Pre de Graisse. The Stoney Indians called them Sna Tinda Wapta (sna-grease; tinda-meadows; wapta-plains). 

Horse Creek (8-26-4-5) – supposed to have been so named because of a lost horse that was found drowned in the creek. 

Highway 1A – the highway connecting Calgary and Cochrane, and continues west, which follows the old Morley Trail along much of its route. Rev. John McDougall is the first white man on record to travel the Morley Trail; in 1875 he rode east to investigate reports that a company of white men were building at the mouth of the Elbow River. Thus he met the N.W.M.P. detachment who were building Fort Calgary. 

Inglis Post Office – located at the home of A. McCrady in the Inglis district; named after the Inglis family. Inglis School District – established in 1916 and named after the Inglis family. Ireland Hill (27-6-5) – named after John Ireland, who homesteaded there; located in the Grand Valley hills. 

Irwin Hill (26-6-5) – located in the Beaupré district. Believed to have been named after James Irwin, who lived nearby in Jackass Canyon. 

Jackass Canyon (26-6-5) – located northwest of Beaupré. When the C.P.R. came through in the 1880s, mules were used for building the roadbed. These mules were wintered in this canyon, hence the name. 

Jacob Creek (6-26-6-5) – named after a Stoney Indian chief who signed Treaty No. 7 in 1877. It flows into the Ghost Dam reservoir. 

Jamieson Creek (26-6-5) – a tributary of the Ghost River, named after the Jamieson family.

Jean’s Creek – flows into Rabbit Creek from the east, at a point two miles south of the Little Red Deer River. Named about 1934 after Jean L. Johnson, who camped there when she homesteaded. 

Jumping Pound – locality south and west of Cochrane. 

Jumping Pound Creek (4-26-4-5) – flows into the Bow River southwest of Cochrane. In Blackfoot, its name is Ninapiskan, or “men’s pound”. There is a buffalo jump on a high, steep bank near its mouth, hence the name given to the creek. There is also a Jumping Pound Mountain (23-7-5), elevation 7,300 feet. 

Kangienos Lake (26-7-5) – a narrow lake almost two miles long. 

Kerfoot Creek (10-27-5-5) – named after W. D Kerfoot. 

Keystone Hills (27,28-6-5) – named about 1928 by an oil company. 

Klondike Valley – an area west of Bottrel, so named because it was rumoured to be a source of gold in the early days. 

Le Sueur Creek (31-26-7-5) – named after the Payn Le Sueur family, who homesteaded in the area, and were the first owners of the Bar C Ranch. Little Jumping Pound Creek (30-24-4-5) – flows into the Jumping Pound Creek. 

Lochend – a locality 14 miles northeast of Cochrane, named by J. K. Laidlaw, 

Lochend Lake – named by J. K. Laidlaw, and derived from the Gaelic name meaning “at the end of the lake”. 

Lochend Post Office (27-3-5) – was located in the Laidlaw home, and established in 1905. Lochend Road – runs north from the 1A Highway to Madden. 

Lochend School District No. 2732 – established in 1912. 

Madden (31-28-2-5) — a hamlet named after Bernard Madden, an early settler of the Beaver Dam district. 

Manachaban Hill – the Blackfoot name for what is more commonly known as Big Hill. 

McDonald Coulee – runs west into the Big Hill Creek coulee. At one time the land was owned by D. P. McDonald, who had a calf camp in the Big Hill Creek coulee. 

McDougall Coulee (31,32-4,5-5) – named after the McDougall family. 

McDougall, Mount – elevation 8,500 feet. Named after Rev. George McDougall and his sons,  Rev. John, and David. 

McKenna Creek (5-26-4-5) – flows into the Bow River south of Mitford. 

Milligan Hill (7-27-6-5) – named by Guy Gibson, because John Milligan had one of the first cabins in that area, 

Mill Valley – located west of Stimson Valley; named after Quigley’s sawmill. 

Mitford (26-5-5) – a town between Cochrane and Morley on the banks of the Bow River. Mitford was named by Lady Adela Cochrane after her friend Mrs. Percy Mitford. The town was abandoned when the C.P.R. established their station at Cochrane, and later a fire burned the buildings that remained; some, such as All Saints Anglican Church, were moved to Cochrane. 

Montreal Valley – named after the Mount Royal Ranch. 

Morley – an Indian Reservation. Established as a mission at Morleyville, by the Rev. George McDougall. Named after Rev. Morley Punshon. 

Mortimer Coulee – the deep, wide valley near the head of Beaver Dam Creek, named after the Mortimer Brothers, who homesteaded in the coulee. 

Nesbitt Coulee – north of Bottrel; named after David Nesbitt, pioneer carpenter who built many of the log houses in the Bottrel area. 

Norman Lake (22-24-5-5) – located southwest of Jumping Pound; named after the Norman family who lived nearby. 

Nicoll Ridge (25-4,5-5) – located in the Jumping Pound area; named after the Nicoll family. 

Owl Creek (23-28-7-5) – runs north into Beaver (Atkinson) Creek. 

Parks Creek (10-25-5-5) – located in the Jumping Pound area west of Cope Creek. Named after the Park family, who homesteaded nearby. 

Parks Ridge – also in the west Jumping Pound area. 

Pirmez Creek (24-3-5) (1910); named after Count Raoul Pirmez, owner of the Belgian Horse Ranch.

Phipps Corner – located on the Horse Creek road at the corner of John Phipps’ homestead quarter. 

Pile of Bones Creek (24-25-5-5) – presumably so named because of the severe cattle losses suffered by the Cochrane Ranche, whose cattle watered nearby on a quarter set aside as a water reserve (SW14 14-25-5-5). 

Potts Lake (31-25-5-5) – named after the Potts family, early homesteaders in the Jumping Pound district. 

Pocaterra Creek and Pocaterra Range – named after George Pocaterra. 

Potato Patch Hill – so named because of the potato patch on the sheltered slope of the hill on the Glenfinnan Ranch. A. W. McDonald was the gardener. Also called Red Slipper Hill, because Guy Gibson put Mrs. Wynne’s red slipper on the hill. 

Radnor (26-5-5) – a flag-stop station on the C.P.R. just east of the Ghost Dam. Named in 1884 after Wilma, daughter of the 5th Earl of Radnor. 

Ranch Creek (26-6-5) – near Behanhouse Creek. Ranch Creek flows into Behanhouse Creek which is a tributary to Spencer Creek. 

Robber’s Roost – origin unknown. 

Robinson Creek (27-6-5) – named after Tom Robinson, an early settler who lived on the banks of the creek. 

Salter Creek (30-28-6-5) – Named in 1884 by G.M. Dawson, after his packer, a Scottish half breed, residing on the Stoney reserve at Morley, Alberta. 

Salter Lake (27-6-5) — called Rabbit Lake by the local Indians. 

Sheep Ranch Hill – the hill just west of Cochrane, between the town and the Cochrane Ranche, so named because the sheep corrals were at its base. It is presently known as Cochrane Crescent. 

Scott Lake (25-6-5) – named after Leeson’s partner, Scott. 

Sibbald Creek (8-24-6-5) – named after the Sibbald family who homesteaded in the area.

Sibbald Flats (13-24-7-5) – a level grassy meadow in the foothills, in the area west of the Sibbald homestead. 

Sibbald Lake (5,8-25-6-5) – also named after the Sibbald family; it is now a recreational park.

Spencer Creek (17-26-6-5) – named after Mr. Spencer, one of the first settlers east of Morleyville. 

Spencer Hills (26-6-5) – also named after Mr. Spencer and located in the same area. 

Sta Wapta – cool running water; also two rivers. 

Stimson Valley – located north of the Beaupré district; named after Fred Stimson. 

Swanson Creek (18-28-5-5) – named after Paul Swanson. It is located in the north range of the Grand Valley hills. 

Swanson Hills (28-5-5) – also named after Paul Swanson. They are between the Dog Pound Creek and Coal Creek. 

Summit Hill – a high hill east of Bottrel, for which the Summit Hill School District and schools were named. 

Waiparous Creek (6-27-6-5) – is part of the Ghost River system. It is derived from a Stoney Indian name meaning “Crow Indian scalp.” 

Weedon School District – located in Township 27, Range 4; named by J. K. Hammond, an early homesteader, after his hometown in England. 

Wildcat Hills (26-5-5) – elevation 5,135 feet; a range of timbered hills northwest of Cochrane. 

Winchell Coulee – located south of Water Valley; named after the Winchell family who settled there.

Winchell Lake – located near the Winchell home; a well-known fishing spot. 

Windy Flats located on the east side of Big Hill Creek coulee, approximately east of the Big Hill Springs Provincial Park. The name speaks for itself. 

Wright’s Lake (11-28-4-5) – named after Scotty Wright, who homesteaded the NW 4 of the section.

Fire Fighting has Changed

By Gordon and Belle Hall

Few records have been kept in regards to the activities of various groups in Cochrane – one being the Cochrane volunteer fire department in 1956. While recovering from an operation, I had the time and opportunity to search through the old Village of Cochrane council minute books from 1903. Through these minutes I was able to trace the start of the fire department. 

In Heritage Park, in Calgary, in front of what was supposed to be the old Cochrane fire hall, there is a plaque with a story on it about how the horses stood ready in the stalls, waiting to pull the Cochrane fire rig. This makes a good story, but it is not true as at no time did horses pull the rig. The village was not big enough and the rig was pulled by manpower, being just a small chemical outfit. The supposed fire hall was a barn that sat next to the fire hall and the one end knocked out housed the ladder rig. However, as regards the history, at a council meeting of February 13, 1909, a discussion took place on fire protection. There was a motion by Andrew Chapman and seconded by Gerald Mortimer that the secretary write R. Bickle of Winnipeg to purchase two 60 gallon chemical engines of the Obenchain Boyer type, then another motion by Chapman and Mortimer to the effect that J. H. Campbell and G. Mortimer be a committee to procure a suitable site for a fire hall, providing some can be got at a reasonable price. The apparatus consisted of water in the tanks, with a small amount of acid to make foam. The council promptly drew on the treasurer for $50 as a down payment.

At the same meeting, it was decided to accept Robert Chapman’s tender for the erection of council chambers and fire hall for a sum of $419. The building was to be completed by April 15, 1909, also the secretary wrote Bickle to ship the fire engines at once. Council appointed R. Hewitt as the first fire chief and he was to pick 12 associates for his brigade and to pick a suitable building and packing cases for a fire test on June 7, weather favourable. Most of their concern was with hay and sheaves which were stacked around barns, also faulty chimneys and on August 7, 1910, the chief was empowered to put up signs dealing with fire regulations. Hewitt was paid the sum of $5 per month to be constable, fire chief and sanitary inspector. Hewitt resigned in 1910. 

We find at the March 2, 1909 meeting the committee has found Lot 7 Block 6 and could be bought for $150. The council finds encumbrances against the lot so this site is scrapped. Then at the March 13, 1909 meeting, they found the west halves of Lots 7 and 8, Block 7 could be purchased from C. W. Fisher for $150.00 Chapman was reappointed chief in 1913 with an additional $25 per year and the regular fire fees were to be :$2 retaining fees: 25 cents for each practice (24 per year): $1 per hour for first-hour fighting fire and 50 cents per hour for additional hours, which sounds lucrative, to say the least. 

On January 25, 1913, Tom Quigley was asked to thaw out the apparatus. 

On February 19 they bought a 10-foot ladder from R. Bickle and two 16-foot roof ladders from R. Chapman. 

Sam Christianson was chief for 1914/15/16 and 1917 when he was paid $10. Christianson was the local blacksmith.

 In May 1919, Robert Butler was asked to secure assistance and overhaul the fire engines. Butler must have been chief for 1919 as he sent the council a bill for $25. However, we find in a meeting of Feb. 9, 1920, motion by Rollinger that R. Chapman does the job and M. J. Tesky was appointed chief. Equipment was purchased namely a 25-foot hose, two attachments and one union, one minute book, and one coil pump. Robert Chapman was appointed chief in 1912. 

One of the main problems concerning the brigade was how to keep the apparatus from freezing, having just wood and coal stoves at that time, someone had to keep a fire in the fire hall during the winter months. At this point in time, by order in council, the fire apparatus was to be taken out of the Firehall and housed in Chapman Garage with R. Chapman as chief. The Chapman Garage was later purchased by Marshall Baptie and the old rig was stored there from 1920 to 1945 when Baptie Motors burned and the old rig went with it. 

After reading the village minutes from 1903 I find the first big fire was the Murphy house and the house next to it. The fire is mentioned in the minutes of December 12, 1927. The following year the Fisher Block burned – mentioned in the minutes of October 1, 1928. 

Murphy Hotel

The Cochrane rig never acted on these fires as it would have been useless. The Calgary department sent out a rig but took too long to get there and had no water when they did. 

Nick Cosis had a shoemaker shop in the Fisher Block. After the fire, he rented the fire hall from 1928 until the 1940s when he retired. Nick was a Greek and quite a gambler, and inside the fire hall the walls were covered with Irish Sweepstake tickets.

Fisher Block
Elevator Fire 1981

From a Peep into the Past A collection of Historic Poems and Short Stories by Gordon and Belle Hall Vol. 1

The First Fire Brigade

Random Notes from Gordon and Belle Hall

The following article is from a Peep into the Past by Gordon and Belle Hall.  They ran a series of articles that outlined the history of the local fire department.

A new brick Presbyterian church was built in 1909 which in 1925 or thereabouts became the United Church of Canada. The first fire brigade was organized in 1909, also with a fire hall and council chambers being built for a sum of $429. The Andison Brothers made an appearance in the early 1900s,  Ernest had a meat market and William the grocery end of it. Beynons, the Davis families and the Quigleys who had a sawmill and brickyard in the east part of town, all put in an appearance. 

The Chapman Brothers, Andy and Bob, were carpenters and built many houses here before starting Chapman Brothers Garage. Andrew Chapman was postmaster here for 37 years, from 1912 to 1949. R.A. Webster ran a feed and livery stable, and also ran the UFA store. S.D. Chester had a lumber yard.

Chapmans Garage 1920s courtesy Glenbow Archives

Before the first war there were five brickyards in operation, also quarries where sandstone was removed, sawed into blocks and shipped to various points in the province. Some of the Cochrane sandstone helped build the parliament buildings in Edmonton. C.W. Fisher was quite prominent, owning the Merina Ranch south of the Bow River and building a large block in the downtown area known as the Fisher Block. It was destroyed by fire in 1928. Fisher also built the large stone house for his new bride, it is now known as the Franciscan Retreat.

The start of the first world war drained the manpower around Cochrane, as it did all across Canada. The brickyards and quarries closed up, most for good. Only one brickyard survived and that was Pete Collins yard which ran off and on till 1928 when it closed for good. 

The old slaughterhouse stood by the Big Hill Creek, where the road crosses the creek in Glenbow subdivision just west of the stampede grounds. It was a building about 20 feet wide and 40 feet long and was quite high, with a rail to put carcasses on, running the length of the building. I never could find out much history on it except it was used prior to 1920.

Hosecart Exhibit

From A Peep into the Past Vol. 1 by Gordon and Bell Hall.

Photos from CHAPS & Glenbow Archives.

Doug Richards and the Early Years

I love these oral histories. It’s great to hear the stories rather than simply imagine them while reading. This history by the Historical Resource Committee of the M.D. Bighorn Oral History project is Doug Richard’s recollection of growing up in the country west of Cochrane before good roads, telephones, or utilities.

There are more stories where he recalls his family’s rodeo history, operating the sawmill, family life and the 4H club.

Cochrane

by Marjorie Spicer

Cochrane came into being with the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Its name was given by the C.P.R. in honour of Senator M. H. Cochrane, who established the first large leasehold cattle ranch in southern Alberta, then the Northwest Territories. The C.P.R. came west to Cochrane in the early 1880s. A townsite was granted to the C.P.R. on portions of the west half of section 2 and the east half of section 3 in Township 26-4-5. The NorthWest Land Company, a subsidiary of the C.P.R., parcelled the site into lots. 

The townsite has a mixture of advantages and disadvantages that have become manifest at different times in the history of the town.

The one advantage that the town has, and which will always remain, is the beauty of the location. The town lies at the foot of Big Hill, which rises some 600 feet behind it. The Bow Valley stretching out to the south is some three miles wide at this point and the river bed lies along the southern edge of the valley. To the east, the Big Hill, which normally runs east and west parallel to the river, has a sharp projection to the south that marks the eastern boundary of this wide valley. Cochrane lies in the angle made by these two hills. To the west, the valley tends to narrow until it is little wider than the river bed at the junction of the Ghost and Bow Rivers, eleven miles away. The view of the foothills and the Rockies from the town is superb. 

The second and more practical advantage is Cochrane’s situation in the heart of a prosperous mixed farming area. In the early years of its history, this advantage was not apparent. The town was located within the boundaries of the Cochrane Ranche, later the British American Ranche and rural settlement took place some distance away. When the Ranche gave up the leasehold in the late 1880s, settlers were able to take up land nearer the townsite. Mitford had 

sprung up in 1886 and the settlers did their shopping and business there, but when the town was abandoned in the 1890s, Cochrane became the centre of the rural area and the town began to grow. 

The history of the Cochrane area, although in many respects similar to that of most other sections of Alberta,

displays some characteristics that are unusual. Insofar as the Morleyville settlement was a part of this district for a time, the region around Cochrane has been distinguished from others in southern Alberta by the fact that the first nucleus of the settlement was a mission among the Indians. Then, too, Cochrane was the site of the first of the great company cattle ranches that were to have such an important influence on the development of the southern half of the province. 

The history of the Cochrane area also presents an interesting example of the influence of geographical position on the development of local society. To begin with, there were the hardy pioneers, travelling with teams of horses and oxen into an isolated section of the land and laying the foundation of a tightly knit community. The railway followed and established a much closer link with the rest of Canada both east and west. It brought new settlers, with the result that the social structure of the area was modified. The early community feeling was partially broken down by the influx of great numbers of homesteaders, who were regarded as somewhat inferior socially because they were unpropertied newcomers and a threat to the open grazing that some of the ranchers had free use of. The earlier concept of ranchers being more aristocratic than farmers began to wane, partly because farmers proved their enterprise could be just as profitable as ranching.

Around 1898 the people living in the hamlet showed signs of progression. Industries started to spring up and by 1900 signs of self-sufficient industrial communities were showing up; brickyards and stone quarries started to operate as well as lumberyards and sawmills. The residents applied for Village status in 1903. It appeared that the Village did not have to depend on the rural population for survival. This all ended when World War I broke out. The scarcity of manpower caused the brickyards to shut down and the stone quarry was unable to sell its product; methods in the building were changing. The village did not show any signs of progression until after World War II. The oil boom came to Cochrane and the town started to grow once again.

want more details?

Fill in your details and we'll be in touch

%d bloggers like this: