Pat Hutchinson Interview

CHAPS is searching for family histories before those memories are lost. We are attempting to record family stories in 5-10 minute videos.

If you’d like to participate please get in touch.

Pat has provided us with interesting photos of the Hutchinson and Perrenoud homesteads north of Cochrane. We’ll put this information in a video in the future.

Thresher at Perrenoud's
Steel wheeled tractor

Cochrane Cafe

I came across this menu from the Cafe on my desk this morning. The Cafe was such a Cochrane favourite that I want to share. I’ll also see if the Museum wants it as an artifact. The menu was from February 2015. Interesting that the directions are from Mackay’s.

Getting off the ranch for a meal, even one so close as ours was a real treat. I can’t imagine how many Ginger Beef and fried rice I had.

Grand Valley Steeplechase

It is written about on page 54 of the Big Hill Country.  We are interested in more details of the steeplechase,  but also would like to see if we can get the “Presidents Trophy” for inclusion in the equine exhibit next summer.
We’ve heard the “Presidents Trophy” may be held by Tim Lawrence who was once living on a ranch east of Red Deer.  
If you have a story about the Grand Valley Steeplechase or know of the whereabouts of the Trophy, please give us a call at 587-777-6926 
Steeplechase at Cochrane - photo courtesey Glenbow Archives

Does Research interest you?

CHAPS can use your help. Just get in touch.

Cochrane Lions Rodeo History

Cochrane Lions and CHAPS held a joint event at the Cochrane History Museum last night. The topic was about the history of the Cochrane Lions Rodeo which has been a local favourite since the mid-60s.

Thanks to Ted Westerson and Keith Garner for their wonderful stories of the rodeo and Cochrane.

Cochrane Lions have allowed us to copy the photos used. Ask if you’d like to take a closer look.

Team Roping

Cochrane Ranche Photo Gallery

Larry Want received some photos of the Cochrane Ranche and area from the Stockmen’s. We had them on display at our Christmas celebration. We’ve scanned them and made them available here.

The feature photo is one of the few I’ve seen of the Cochrane Ranche herd. (1882/83)

All photos courtesy of Glenbow Archives.

The photos are:

  1. Bow River Ranch Dining Room
  2. John Beams 12 miles north of Cochrane
  3.  Grand Stand 
  4. Howard Chapman’s General Store 1904
  5. Rev. Wood Sam Wigmire Morley late 1800’s
  6. Picnic Grand Valley Kerfoots mounted
  7. Main Street 1890
  8. Cochrane no year listed

Has Harry become a “Remittance Man?”

Of course not. Although, the current headlines made me smile when I jokingly drew the similarity to earlier times. There was a time before W.W. 1 when British families sent wayward sons to Canada and paid them a monthly stipend.

Remittance Man, a term once widely used, especially in the West before WWI, for an immigrant living in Canada on funds remitted by his family in England, usually to ensure that he would not return home and become a source of embarrassment.

John Colombo - The Canadian Enclycopedia Tweet

I remember stories from Dad about local remittance men. It sounded as though they led very interesting lives. 

The following poem confirms that some of their lives were better for it.

There's a four-pronged buck a-swinging in the shadow of my cabin, And it roamed the velvet valley till to-day; But I tracked it by the river, and I trailed it in the cover, And I killed it on the mountain miles away. Now I've had my lazy supper, and the level sun is gleaming On the water where the silver salmon play; And I light my little corn-cob, and I linger, softly dreaming, In the twilight, of a land that's far away. Far away, so faint and far, is flaming London, fevered Paris, That I fancy I have gained another star; Far away the din and hurry, far away the sin and worry, Far away — God knows they cannot be too far. Gilded galley-slaves of Mammon — how my purse-proud brothers taunt me! I might have been as well-to-do as they Had I clutched like them my chances, learned their wisdom, crushed my fancies, Starved my soul and gone to business every day. Well, the cherry bends with blossom and the vivid grass is springing, And the star-like lily nestles in the green; And the frogs their joys are singing, and my heart in tune is ringing, And it doesn't matter what I might have been. While above the scented pine-gloom, piling heights of golden glory, The sun-god paints his canvas in the west, I can couch me deep in clover, I can listen to the story Of the lazy, lapping water — it is best. While the trout leaps in the river, and the blue grouse thrills the cover, And the frozen snow betrays the panther's track, And the robin greets the dayspring with the rapture of a lover, I am happy, and I'll nevermore go back. For I know I'd just be longing for the little old log cabin, With the morning-glory clinging to the door, Till I loathed the city places, cursed the care on all the faces, Turned my back on lazar London evermore. So send me far from Lombard Street, and write me down a failure; Put a little in my purse and leave me free. Say: "He turned from Fortune's offering to follow up a pale lure, He is one of us no longer — let him be." I am one of you no longer; by the trails my feet have broken, The dizzy peaks I've scaled, the camp-fire's glow; By the lonely seas I've sailed in — yea, the final word is spoken, I am signed and sealed to nature. Be it so.
Robert W. Service
The Rhyme of the Remittance Man

Intro to Cochrane Ranche Archaeology

Through our collaboration with the Stockmen’s Association we came across photos of the archaeological dig at the Ranche summer of 1977.

It’s very exciting to see these photos. We’ll dig deeper into the results in a future blog. For now, here are just a small sample.

The Ranche was nearly 4 Townships in size

Cochrane Ranche is an important historic site in Western Canada. As the first attempt at a large-scale ranching operation, the ranch may have provided only modest returns for its investors; but for Western Canada the experimentation and developments encouraged more ranching that was to provide a foundation for the future. -

Roderick Heitzmann​ - Author of Study Tweet
The bunkhouse and Managers residence were studied

Thousands of artifacts were recovered. The dig was summarized in the following document.

Luggage Cart Renos complete

This year CHAPS received what we suspect is a luggage cart that was used at the Cochrane CPR Train Station. Wayne Hilland ran a garage that was just across the street from the train station and likely rescued the cart before the station was demolished.

CHAPS members Mike Taylor and Lonnie Basiuk took on the task of restoration.

We will be placing the cart outside of the museum sometime in May or June.

Lonnie Basiuk & Mike Taylor (L-R)

When we looked at the cart back in November, we figured it was original because the wood was worn and there was lichen growing on the deck but it wasn't. We know it wasn't the original because of the hardware and the screws that were used,

The 4 by 4’s are hardwood and likely from Eastern Canada. We believe they are original.

Approximately 100 hours of restoration were required to take the cart apart, sand blast the original parts, replace and rebuild the cart. Many of the original parts were re-used. The wheels, lower undercarriage and trim are original. 

Reconstruction took place in the Want Quonset during November and December. Mike was hopeful Reno’s would have taken a week but it required striping down and replacing parts. They were hopeful we could sand the trim but we had to sandblast at a place called Consolidated Compressor. We completed the sandblasting in 2.5 hours.

We did find a number on there, 2414.

The metal was primed then  painted with “Tuscany Red”. This colour closely matches the original. 

We think that baggage carts for CP and CN were constructed by the same manufacturer. We’ve tried to track down these numbers. When you think of it every station had one of these carts. We think the cart came from the late 1800’s, early 1900’s due to the square bolts used. We need to get into places like Heritage Park to do more research.

Mike figures with all the construction materials the cart weighs in a three quarters of a ton and yet when you pick it up it moves just beautifully. It’s got big wide wheels so it doesn’t fall into cracks. It’s extremely well designed.

Cost of renovations was just under $1000.00

Chain hanging is part of braking system
Hitch can be locked in upright position

The Cart was offered to CHAPS by the family of Wayne Hilland. We are grateful for this addition to our exhibit. We are planning on placing the cart outside of the Cochrane Historical Museum, spring of 2020. We will let you know the date of the dedication.

Would you like to get involved in CHAPS?

We need help doing research, organizing events, memberships and social media.

Merry Christmas 2019

CHAPS Christmas Party 2019 was a wonderful get together with friends, supporters and members.

As people walked in Larry had displayed some photos we received from the Stockman’s.  I’d never seen most of them before. We’ll create a couple of posts from these very interesting photos of the Cochrane Ranche bunk house and manager’s home.  Most of the remaining photos were from the 1890’s of residents and main street.


Shirley Thomas and Della Boothby welcomed everyone
Building on Main pre 1900, details to follow
Kerfoot outing pre 1900
George and Lonnie telling stories
Wally Irons had some amusing stories
CHAPS wishes everyone a safe, happy Christmas

Poets, Painters, Authors, Musicians & Athletes

While creating our YouTube channel to store our 100 Stories for 100 Years collection by Barry Thorson I learned of the wide range of renowned Cochrane residents. I hope to flesh out that list in a future post.

While flipping through More Big Hill Country I discovered this poem by Bobby Turner and followed up by reading  their family history

The Eagle and I

As I ride in the storm I am not alone

It seems to me I am just coming home.

Ernie Thompson’s pack-saddle sits on old buck,

Gord Davies hobbles on the neck of Chuck.

Frank Hutchinson said, “don’t leave any rope slack.”

Carl’s brand on the fly that covers one pack.

From my father, Frank Newsome, and many others,

I learned ways of the wilderness: I didn’t have brothers.

From three older sisters I learned much of course,

Because each one of them was good with a horse.

With Wearmouths or Bowhays, some of the best 

There were many a time our skills were put to the test.

Audley Richards was the first one I’d ever seen

Put a pack on a horse, and since then I have been keen.

To learn from each packer, a new trick or two

And from watching real close I learned quite a few;

Respect for the horse from Dr. Don Moore

Be careful in rivers, Hayward taught me for sure.

With all these teachers I won’t have a fear

To ride in the mountains with a packstring this year.

And somehow packing horse will be much more fun

I can teach a few tricks to some of my sons

The chill of the wind will not bother me

For just like the eagle; I’m wild and free.

If not in the flesh, then in spirit and mind.

And when I must leave this real world behind

With my good wide Sunni right by my side

Together on the wings of the eagle we’ll fly.

So don’t shed a tear for me my good friend

I have rode with the wind: I will ride again.

Bobby Turner - January 1996

Our 59th in Hawaii – Dolly and Gordon Callaway

Gordon and Dolly Callaway ran a diary farm north and east of Cochrane. Daughter Rochelle relates in her history in More Big Hill Country that this was Gordon’s home for the majority of his life.

Dolly and Gordon recorded their story of growing up in Alberta when distances were harder to traverse and winter was a more of a struggle. Their story was captured by Barry Thorson in his CHAPS sponsored series, 100 Stories for 100 Years.

I think the title of their video comes from their wish to spend time somewhere tropical after spending so many years in Canada’s winter.

Callaway’s were neighbors when my brothers and I were growing up. I was fascinated by a diary and by the huge tunnels David built in the feed in their huge barn. I also remember Christmas’s filled with conversations, music and games.

Their family history starts on page 350 of More Big Hill Country.

History of the Cattle Industry

Page 68-69 of More Big Hill Country has a really interesting history of the cattle industry, 1493 through 2008. You can see the ups and downs of one of the major industries of early Cochrane.

1493 – Spanish cattle come to the south of America on Columbus’ second voyage. Fore bearers of the Texas Longhorn

1823 – First cattle in Alberta at Fort St. Charles on the Peace River. Brought in by fur traders.

1857 – John Palliser’s group explores the west.

1866 – Nelson Storey drives 3,000 Longhorns from Texas to Bozeman, Montana. First herds to feed the miners.

1870 – Between 1860 and 1870 over 22,000 head of cattle herded to gold mines in the interior regions of British Columbia, Fraser Canyon and Cariboo Districts. Buffalo herds mainly gone from the Plains.

1871 – Fred Kanouse brings approximately 20 from Montana to winter in Alberta foothills.

1874 – John McDougall (Missionary) and brother David, one of the first cattlemen in the foothills region, drive a small herd from Sun River region in Montana to Morleyville, Alberta, North West Mounted Police (NWMP) arrive at present day Fort Macloed, bringing their own herd of cattle (25 head)

1875 – British Columbia herd of 400 go to Fort Edmonton. I.G. Baker Co. of Fort Benton, Montana brings herd of “police” beef.

1876 – Sgt. Whitney of NWMP turns cattle loose for the first time to winter on their own. The beginning of a long tradition. In the spring all 25 had survived.

1878 – First move made toward systematic branding in this region. Rustling and alterations of a brand becoming a serious problem and a serious offence.

1879 – First bona fide round up of the Foothills region.

1880 – Land opening for homesteading.

1887 – Disaster comes in the form of over grazed pastures and severe winter conditions. 50% of all cattle died in the grazing region from Red Deer River south to Texas.

1888 -Putting up hay for the winter becomes widespread practice in the Canadian cattle districts.

From our archive, no known year

1891 – A deathly blizzard blows.

1890 – Quorn Ranches begins importing better breed bulls with hopes of improving breeds here. Fencing has begun. Ranchers had to reconcile their life styles to having farmers as neighbors.

1896 – Gold discovered in Yukon, 40,000 men rush to the Klondike.

1897 – P. Burns sponsors the first successful cattle drive to Dawson City by shipping cattle up the west coast to a point near Skagway then trailing them north over treacherous trails and rafting them down river. Bill Henry in charge.

1899 – Introduction of hot sulphur dipping vats to eliminate mange.

1900 – First Calgary bull sale.

1902 – Bar U receives shipment of 1,000 Mexican cattle, noted for their hardiness, however, they lacked confirmation.

1905 – Alberta and Saskatchewan achieve provincial status.

1906 – The hard winter, blizzards never to be forgotten …. and many long frigid weeks. It was a breaking point for many. The cattle that survived had white faces – the beginning of a large scale Hereford expansion in western Canada.

1912 – Beginning of the Calgary Stampede – organized by Guy Weadick and backed by the “Big Four”.

1914 – World War I Begins.

1919 – Worldwide flu epidemic. Bad weather combined with price collapse – many ranches bankrupt.

1929 – A world wide depression hits.

1931 – Provinces take over natural resources from Federal governments, previously ranch leases issued by Ottawa.

1936 – Federal government institutes relief shipment of cattle.

1939 – World War II begins followed by meat rationing – embargo of beef exports to U.S.

1951 – Highest prices on record – $35.00 CWT, followed by foot and mouth disease outbreak.

1952 – Market Collapse

1953 – First Charlais cattle imported in Canada.

1955 – Canada health of animals initiates National Brucellosis program. 

1956 – Rapid expansion in the cattle feeding.

1957 – Canadian Hereford centennial.

1958 – First major custom feedlot, western feedlots, opened in Strathmore, Alberta – producer owned.

1959 – Federal – Provincial record of production established.

1960’s – Building of kill and chill beef plants – especially in Alberta.

1965 – European imports permitted first arrivals 1966. Record cow slaughter and beef production – not exceeded until 1977.

1967 – Canada net importer of beef for first time – hamburger trade at Expo a factor.

1968 – First Simmental from France followed by other breeds from Switzerland, Italy, German, Austria – again followed by explosive developments in A.I. and cross breeding.

1969 – Further expansion of cattle feeding in western Canada due to grain surplus.

1972 – New beef grades established in Canada. Canada pioneers embryo transplants. Montreal beef trades evolved.

1973 – Record high prices – first time calves over dollar/pound.

1974 – OPEC quadruples oil prices – coincident with world over supply of meat followed by a catastrophic price collapse through to 1977.

1980’s – Removal of the “Crow Rate” (a subsidy for shipping grain to the ports for export) spawned the acceleration of the growth of the feeding industry in Alberta.

1990’s – Two major food processing plants were established in Alberta, Tyson’s and Cargill.

2002 – Canada became the third largest exporter of beef and veal represent 15% of all global beef and veal exports in the world.

2003 – Bovine Spongiform Encelphalopathy (BSE) case discovered in one cow in Alberta – Alberta experiences an unprecedented $30 Billion halt of sales due to border closures of seven countries plus the USA to close the borders to Canadian Beef – Canada lost it’s ranking as the third largest exporter of beef in the world.

2004 – Brazil jumps to first place from 4th place and now exports 30% of the World’s beef.

2008 – Canada now represents just 10% of all beef and veal exports globally. At the present time as the beef industry adds significantly to Alberta’s economy, there will be changes in the Industry in the coming years.

Pioneer Terms – 2

Many of the terms Alberta Pioneers used now sound unfamiliar. How do you do with these 10 pioneer expressions?

  1. A-fence – any fence using A-frames instead of posts driven into the ground
  2. Aladdin lamp – A large lamp with mantle and a tall glass chimney, giving a clear white light. Kerosene was used for fuel.
  3. Backfire – a fire set as a defence against an oncoming prairie fire by burning the area in front of it.
  4. Bennett buggy – an old auto converted into a horse drawn vehicle during the Depression. So named because R.B. Bennett was Prime Minister of Canada during part of that era.
  5. Broody hen – one that sits on and hatches eggs. Essential to the poultry producer before the days of incubators and hatcheries
  6. Chaps – from the Spanish Chaparajos. A pair of strong leather trousers without a seat, often with the hair left on the outer side. Worn by cowboys for protection and warmth. The belt was laced in front; the lacing would break easily if caught on the saddle horn.
  7. Democrat – a light springed wagon usually pulled by a driving team.
  8. Doubletree – the bar of a vehicle of piece of machinery drawn by a two horse team, with singletrees attached.
  9. Marcel – curling a lady’s hair into waves with a hot iron.
  10. Riding skirt – a divided skirt worn by lady riders before the days of slacks.

Photos and text (page 791) from Big Hill Country.

Hat Etiquette

More than just clothing to protect you from the elements. There are rules attached. Reprinted from page 18 More Big Hill Country.

A gentleman always removes his hat when first meeting a lady.

In subsequent meetings, a gentleman tips his hat to the lady.

When entering an enclosed living space, such as a home it is proper to remove one’s hat.

Do not leave your cowboy hat in the back window of your car while parked out in the heat of the day.

Better yet don’t leave your hat in a vehicle at all.

When looking for a place to put your hat, the first and most appropriate spot is the top of your head!

And, it had always been considered bad luck to place your cowboy hat brim on the bed.

The image of the haying crew is from our archives. It’s one of the many local photographs we’ve received with no details.

Geography Bee Graduate – Leslie Davies

Leslie Davies talks about growing up in Cochrane, working at Mackay’s, going to school in the old 2 room, later 4 room brick school and a life lesson learned by volunteering.

This video from our 100 Stories for 100 Years series on our YouTube site. Please like and subscribe.

This video is part of the Live Stories Programme – 100 Stories for 100 Years, Produced by Barry Thorson – Lone Wolf Theatre Company


Cochrane Ranches Significance in Canadian History

CHAPS has received a number of documents outlining the historical significance of the COCHRANE RANCHE.

Other Names:

  • British American Ranch Co.
  • Cochrane Creamery
  • Cochrane Ranch Co. (Ltd.)
  • Cochrane Ranch Co. Ltd
  • Western Heritage Centre

Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place

Cochrane Ranche is the site of Alberta’s first large‐scale ranch, which operated between 1881 and 1888. The designated area consists of archaeological remains and landscape features on approximately 137 acres, located in a sheltered valley on the west bank of Big Hill Creek, west of the Town of Cochrane and overlooking the Bow River.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of Cochrane Ranche lies in its representation of large‐scale cattle ranching in southern Alberta prior to 1896.

In 1881 the federal Conservative government initiated a policy of granting large‐scale grazing leases in hopes of establishing an Anglo‐Canadian ranching elite in the North‐West Territories. The first such lease, for 109,000 acres west of Calgary, was secured by the Cochrane Ranche Company, a group of Eastern capitalists under the leadership of Senator Matthew Cochrane of Montreal. As the first lease‐holder the Company was able to choose land that appeared to have all the criteria for success. The lands straddled the proposed route of the Canadian Pacific Railway and was blessed with good agricultural land in the Bow River valley, a climate of chinooks and plentiful grasses.

It also had ready access to markets for cattle in the nearby North West Mounted Police (NWMP) posts, Stoney and Sarcee Indian Reservations, and with future settlers. In 1881 the I.G. Baker Company of Fort Benton was contracted to drive cattle up from Montana and the ranch’s first manager, James Walker, a retired NWMP superintendent, began constructing buildings beside Big Hill Creek. Despite these advantages, the Ranche suffered drastic losses in its first two years, due to hard winters, lack of winter fodder, and poor herding practices. In 1883 the Company relocated its cattle south to a new lease on the Belly River and tried to raise horses and sheep on the original Cochrane Ranche, now reincorporated as the British American Ranch Company. This was not profitable, either, and in 1888, amid increasing pressure from incoming settlers to break up the large leases for homesteads, the property was sold.

Nonetheless, the Cochrane Ranche is a prominent part of the history of the beef cattle industry in Alberta and reflects the relationship between Eastern Canada and southern Alberta in the period after Confederation.

Between 1898 and 1919 the property was also the site of two brickyards, which played a role in Calgary’s booming construction industry prior to World War One. Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Heritage Resource Management Branch (File: Des. 395)

Character‐Defining Elements

The character‐defining elements of the Cochrane Ranche include:
‐ archaeological remains associated with historic buildings and structures including the manager’s house, bunkhouses, stable, blacksmith shop, dugout, brickyards, barns and sheds, corrals;
‐ information potential of affiliated archaeological deposits, which provide an opportunity for additional
archaeological research;
‐ landscape features such as a quarry, viewscapes, elevations, creek;
‐ documentary records relating to the history of the ranch, which support existing interpretation and provide
opportunity for additional study, including: plans of survey, maps, managers diaries, photographs, etc.;
‐ records resulting from archaeological studies previously undertaken including: reports plans, maps, photographs and substantive artifact collections, which provide an opportunity for additional research and interpretation.

The federal government has supplied a document to assist with maintaining historic sites.


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