Blue Sky Memories

Another in the 100 Stories for 100 Years series produced by Barry Thorson.

Vernice (Towers) Wearmouth talks about the Brushy Ridge fire and cutter rides from the Ranch to Cochrane to attend dances.  It’s a lovely story from a local pioneer of the challenges and joys of living in the area.

The Brushy Ridge Fire 

from an article by Bob Callaway in Big Hill Country page 718

Nov 19, 1936 a day remembered by many for years to come. Winds up to 90 MPH  (150 kmh) fanned a fire that raced across the prairie.

With the gale-force winds driving the fire, there was no fighting it. The year previous had been very dry and the country was dry as tinder. A haystack or field of grass would catch fire and be picked up by the wind and carried a half mile, mile or even two miles only to be set down and start another fire.

Then came a shower of rain, bringing a day of living hell to an end. Men had come from Cochrane, Jumping Pound and Springbank to help fight it. Many different methods were tried. George Callaway tried to plow a fireguard in front of it, to no avail. Lennie Blow rode a truck tarp being dragged behind a truck to try and smother the flames that too, was unsuccessful. The fire continued its course and a drop in the wind and a shower of rain were the only things that stopped it from continuing right into Calgary.

Digitally Preserving Alberta’s Diverse Cultural History

We recently heard from a group doing some interesting work to preserve our history. They asked us to make our members aware. We’re happy to do that.

Hi! I’m working with Dr. Peter Dawson at the University of Calgary. We have recently made a Facebook page to help share our digital preservation work in Alberta. I was wondering if you would be willing on sharing our page to your group? We thought many of your members might find the content interesting, especially as we continue to grow over the next few months!

From tent rings and bison jumps to large scale industrial structures, Alberta’s heritage resources reflect our collective histories. Wildfires, flooding, vandalism, and development continue to place Alberta’s heritage at varying degrees of risk. Reality capture technologies like terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) and aerial photogrammetry can be used to digitally capture and preserve provincial heritage resources. An archive has been created as a repository for these digital data sets so they will remain accessible to future generations. Learn more and keep updated by following the project's Facebook page here!

Madisen Hvidberg

Here’s a backgrounder that mentions some work they’ve done on the McDougall Church.

Here’s an update from their website with a visualization of the Perrenoud homestead.

The Easy Way to make Hard Ice Cream

No matter where I’ve lived, whenever someone learns I’m from Cochrane, they mention Mackay’s Ice Cream.

This video from the 100 Stories for 100 Years series features Chris, Heather, Rhona and Robyn Mackay talking about their family, growing up in Cochrane and this famous local business.

From an Article in Big Hill Country 1977

James (Jimmy) served overseas with the Canadian Armed Forces in World War II. In 1946 he married Christina (Chris) Beck who was born near Glasgow, Scotland , and he and his bride returned to Cochrane.

Jimmy and his wife operate a general store, which was formerly owned by F.W. Maggs. For the past 15 years they have been making and selling ice cream. 

Chartered busses on tours make a point of stopping in Cochrane so their passengers can buy a cone. People have sent papers published from around the world, complimenting them on their ice cream. Jimmy and Chris have made an interesting scrap book of them. They make every flavor their imagination can come up with, even confetti ice cream for weddings. Their cardboard ice cream cartons are designed of dark, green plaid the Mackay tartan. in 1971 they started a guest book which now contains signatures of people from many parts of the world. They also have a map of the world on a wall of the store and a thumb tack is placed on every country the guests are from. 

Big Hill Country 1977 page 395

Customer Map photo taken Dec 30, 2018

Mackay’s has a great history wall along one side of the interior of the store. There are photos of early Cochrane, Chris and Jimmy Mackay, and receipts from long ago. Also the ice cream machine that’s visible in the video.

We believe the features under the roof line behind the MacKay’s sign are original to the building.

Photo Archive Open House

Photo 
Archive Open House

Jan 16th 7:30 PM

Cochrane Historical Museum

Cost: Free

Most commented on photo on our Facebook page.

CHAPS is planning on having regularly scheduled events to talk about the History of Cochrane and area. This is our first where we plan on opening up our photo archives. We have many more photos than what we’ve been showing on our social media feeds.

Plan on joining us for this free event.

Raking Prairie Wool

In the News

Stay tuned for a new magazine debuting in February 2019. CHAPS and the Cochrane Historical Museum will be a feature.

Existing publications in Cochrane and Airdrie will be merged into a new magazine called “townsizing”.

Bernice, Larry and myself had the opportunity to talk to Carmen about our passion for the history of our town and the spirit of volunteerism that our volunteers exhibit that keeps the Museum and other projects going.

Dewey Lee Blaney

Dewey was born in Roanoke County, Virginia in 1897. He moved with his parents, brothers and sisters to Salem, VA in 1906. He was hired to work for the Barnett family in their home and feed store.

Dewey came to Alberta with the Barnett’s in 1915 to a farm in the Bottrell area. He worked for them for 4 additional years before moving on to work in Dog Pound and Bottrell area.

Later, he found work with the Hogarths tending teams of horses on the Banff-Jasper Highway construction and again with local ranchers in the Cochrane area.

Dewey loved children and as Ivan in “Skippin’ Sugar Cookies”, says spent a lot of money on them.

Dewey passed away in 1970 and is remembered here in Cochrane in St. Andrews Cemetery and Dewey Blaney Park.

from an article in Big Hill Country

 

Dewey Lee Blainey (1897 - 1970)

Long after Dewey passed away he inspired me.

He was around Cochrane alot when I was small and I also saw him at the Cochrane Racetrack site where he lived. He worked for many ranchers in the area including my grandfather J.W. (John) Boothby.

Dewey inspired my interest in history. I read in Big Hill Country that his grandfather was a slave.  That small piece of information made me realize that the Civil War and slavery were not long ago even though 1861-65 sounded so many years passed.

That small fact also made me realize that the study of history helps understand why we are the way we are today.

by Mark Boothby

1907 Canadian Red Ensign Flag Premiered

CHAPS premiered a new Exhibit at the Cochrane Historical Museum. A unique Canadian Red Ensign flag was unveiled at the Museum today.

Mike Taylor describes Flag Research

The flag was donated by David and Jane Raymont of Toronto who have familial ties to the area. Mr. Raymont purchased the flag in memory of local rancher Arthur Scott Lewis who died in W.W. 1 (1885-1918) He and his wife Maude Lewis, purchased a section of Spencer Creek Ranch (Beaupre Lake area) in 1908.

Alberta became a Province in 1905 and the shield of Alberta was added to the other 8 shields on the right hand side of the Red Ensign flag in 1907. The Union Jack was on the left side, so this flag represented all 9 provinces and England. This Red Ensign, or similar one would likely have been flown in Cochrane with great pride after Alberta became a province. It is therefore very appropriate that this flag will be prominently displayed at the Cochrane Historical Museum.

After the flag was donated it became clear that this was an important acquisition that should be restored, preserved and given pride of place in the Museum. Thanks to a generous grant from the Rotary/Lions/Bow Rivers Edge Campground Society, the Museum was able to have the flag cleaned, repaired, mounted and framed. The meticulous work of professional restorer Gail Niinimaa and the painstaking framing of Scott Winter at Winter Photographics has restored, preserved and beautifully displayed this unique acquisition.

Despite the Canadian Red Ensign never being officially approved by Ottawa, it flew over the Parliament Building for several years before being replaced by the Union Jack during the Boer War. Flag manufacturers capitalised on nationalistic feelings and produced several different varieties of Red Ensigns, adding the new Provincial Shields when they were approved by England. The Museum’s flag, like others has the Union Jack on the left and the provincial shields on the right, but unlike most Red Ensigns has a maple leaf and beaver garland around the shields, making it rare and truly Canadian.

Since the ‘Great Flag Debate’ of the 60’s when Canada finally acquired its own officially approved flag, little has been heard of Canada’s original flags. The history of the Red Ensign is in danger of being lost. In their lifetime, many Canadians have only known the current flag, and its a revelation for them to see an original early Canadian flag. The museum will be showing this history along with countless other exhibits when it opens again in June 2019.

Mike Taylor, Cochrane Historical Museum Committee member. The museum is a part of CHAPS, Cochrane Historical and Archival Preservation Society.

 

December 15, 2018

Hill Climb Location update

Gordon and I spent an hour trying to locate 1 of the 3 motorcycle hill climbing areas around Cochrane. We think we’ve found 1. These images are approx. 80 years apart. Do they look like the same plateau and corner of the river?

We are meeting with Ace Hy Motorcyle Club later this month  to see their photos of 1930’s hill climbs to see if we can find the other 2 sites.

Merry Christmas 2018 from CHAPS Cochrane

CHAPS wishes everyone a joyful, peaceful, loving and Merry Christmas.

Our gift to you are some memories of Historic Cochrane from our new Youtube site.

Please Subscribe and Like our Youtube channel. Look for this button in Youtube.

We’d like to see you at our Christmas celebration at the Museum December 17th, 7:00 PM.

Rona B Shot Tower

We’re starting of series of blogs based on the 2005 The Live Stories Programme: 100 Stories for 100 Years produced by Barry Thorson and Lone Wolf Theatre Company. CHAPS has had the source material in our archives for years. There are some really interesting stories of Cochrane that we want to share.

The first video is Ron Baker describing how Cochrane’s Rona B shot tower was built.

Ron was a trap shooter who began experimenting with creating his own shot. He came upon a special lead alloy and local shooters began asking him to supply lead shot.

The shot tower was a former oil derrick.  The buildings and equipment were home made or adapted from oil equipment. Ron felt his product was harder than any other produced in North America.

Lead bars were melted at the top of the tower, poured through a sieve and dropped to the base to be cooled in a vat of water. During its peak, Rona B used 3 to 4 tons of lead daily. The Tower stood 181 feet top to bottom.

The finished lead shot was used in Olympic shotgun shells and by Western Canadian shooters who made their own shells.

Rona B Lead Shot was started by 1959 by Ron Baker and his father C.W. Baker. We believe the tower was completed 1961-2 and was torn down in 2006.

Mark Boothby from files submitted by Garney Baker.

Rona B Shot Tower
Approximately where Bow Ridge Sports stands todaay

A bag of the shot produced at the tower. It  recently sold on the Internet along with 20 of the bags used.

I didn’t know anything about the topic of making shot so I looked a video up. I’d not seen any other shot towers in Canada. According to the video there were only 3 in England at that time.

Motorcycle Hill-Climbing

Did you know Cochrane had Motorcycle Hill-Climbing in the 1930’s. Just like today, people from Calgary liked to visit Cochrane. One of the popular activities was Hill-Climbing. We’re looking for photos on those races.

Thanks to Deeley Exhibition for providing this image. For more on Hill-Climbing visit their site at https://deeleyexhibition.ca/brief-history-hill-clim

Will Pratt supplied these images on our Twitter account. He describes the locations as 8 miles west of Calgary. Obviously, a popular event.

Congratulations to the Glenbow for tracking down some History.

   

This news from the Glenbow inspires me. We have so many photos in our archives with few or no details. I’m sure it’s within the collective memory of our members so we need to record it. This is one of our goals when we open our photo archives; to record peoples memories. Goto to our Activities page for more details on our Photo Archive event.

Here’s is the Glenbow story about recovering the people and circumstances from one of their photos. 

Jingle Dance Detectives

School Presentation

This past Wednesday and Thursday 100 students from Grade 2 French immersion classes at Elizabeth Barrett visited the Cochrane Historical Museum. Greeted by Frank Hennessey students learned that the building is over 100 years old, was once the the Davies home and Cochrane’s first hospital.

Gordon Davies continued the presentation in French with Jade Lewis’s excellent history of the Cochrane Ranche Video.

Mike Taylor, Gordon Davies, Frank Hennessey

Annual General Meeting 2018

We had 18 members attend September 19th. Committees gave an overview of what was accomplished this year. 

  • Museum- About the same numbers through as last year.  Will close September 30. 
  •  Grants – Several applied for,
    • Alberta Culture used for shelving, work tables, supplies for archiving, dividers and storage boxes. 
    • Town of Cochrane used to purchase transmitters and receivers for tours and meetings. 
  • Next Fundraising Dinner at Legion on Nov 17. 

  • New volunteers needed to help on the following committees

    • Grants,
    • Membership,
    • Fundraising

Election of officers 

  • Past President – Gordon Davies,
  • President – Larry Want, 
  • Vice- President – R. Tony Turner,
  • Secretary – Bernice Klotz,
  • Treasurer – Donna Morris, 
  • Directors at large – Rod Wallace, Mark Boothby, Frank Hennessey  

All voted in by acclamation.

This Year:

  • 20th Anniversary of CHAPS, June 2019 
  • 5th Anniversary of the museum, 
  • 110th Anniversary of the house. 
from CHAPS Archives

Looking for ideas to celebrate  ie: 

  • 110 house Birthday Party, 
  • Sell More Big Hill Country for $20.00 at the museum only. 
  • Have table at downtown market on Thursdays in summer. 
  • Enter Labour day parade,
  • Party cake for museum opening in June,  
  • Give More Big Hill Country to Grads with grant money.  

notes by Bernice Klotz

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