pg 461 More Big Hill Country 1994
The Gilbert family came to Canada in 1908 from York, Nebraska. O.N. Gilbert, who later owned a good deal of land in the Cochrane area, was an agent for the Rumley Company, builders of steam-powered tractors. Newt was less than a year old when they moved to the Calgary area.
Newt grew up in the Calgary and Rosebud areas. The family lived in Mount Royal, but O.N. and his brothers had a real estate business and owned farmland near Rosebud. After attending school in Calgary, and then military school in California, Newt tried to enlist in the Canadian army when WWII broke out but was turned down for health reasons. He went to the U.S. and enlisted in the U.S. Army. While serving at Fort Douglas, Salt Lake City, Utah, he met Betty Lou Millikin who worked for the Quartermaster Corps. She was born in Montana and grew up in Montana and Utah. She had taught school in the state of Washington and then returned to Salt Lake City. After a very short courtship, they were married in November of 1942.
When the war ended, Newt and Betty Lou came to Canada and lived in the Calgary, Rosebud and Drumheller areas before moving to Cochrane. Newt’s younger brother, Dick and his wife Evaline, and their three sons, Mike, Terry and Tim, had lived on the ranch at Cochrane. In the early 1950’s they moved to California.
Bruce was born in July 1947 and spent nine years on the Drumheller farm. Betty Lou had returned to teaching at the junior high school in Drumheller, while Newt farmed. Bad weather and hailed-out crops had made grain farming very tough.
When O.N. passed away in the spring of 1956, Newt, Betty Lou and Bruce moved to the Cochrane area to take over the ranch. The Drumheller farm was sold. They lived in Mrs. Moore’s house in town until their house on the Cochrane Ranche was finished in the summer of 1957. This house is now used as the interpretive center for the Cochrane Ranche Historic Site.
The Gilbert ranch operation covered a lot of area. Part of the summer pasture was a large crown grazing lease in the Wildcat Hills. The family enjoyed many summers staying at the cow camp in Big Coulee.
Betty Lou taught at various schools in Cochrane, including the original High School, Andrew Sibbald and the new High School built on Cochrane Heights. She retired from teaching in 1974 from the position of principal. Newt looked after the ranch operation and Bruce became involved as time went on. After her retirement from teaching in 1974, Betty Lou was elected school trustee and served three terms as the representative for Cochrane.
Through the years Newt and Betty Lou were active in the community. They belonged to the Masonic Lodge and Order of the Eastern Star. Both belonged to the Curling Club. Betty Lou was a Job’s Daughter and belonged to P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization) where she held every office on the Provincial Board except corresponding secretary.
In 1969 Newt and Betty Lou were instrumental in the formation of the Cochrane Foothills Protective Association. This organization was formed to help the RCMP and the rural community deal with issues such as trespassing, theft and vandalism and to present a united front in dealings with oil and gas exploration companies. This association still exists and operates as the Cochrane Rural Crime Watch. Bruce has been a director for over 20 years. This organization was the beginning of the Rural Crime Watch in Alberta.
After graduation from Cochrane High School in 1965, Bruce attended the University of Alberta, first in Calgary then in Edmonton. There he met Susan Mather who had grown up in Edmonton and Calgary
They were married in August 1968. After graduating from U of A in 1969 they returned to Cochrane. Bruce became a full-time rancher and Sue worked at the Calgary General Hospital as a physiotherapist.
In 1972 the Alberta Government purchased the Cochrane Ranche site. Highway 22 was built and a part of the ranch became the Cochrane Ranche Provincial Historic Site. Bruce and Sue moved to the land known as the “960” north on the Horse Creek Road.
Bruce and Sue have two children. Cindy was born in June 1973 and Scott in October 1975. Both graduated from Cochrane High School. Cindy is single and lives in Edmonton where she works for Urban Systems Inc., Scott married Diana Dickenson from Hope, British Columbia. He has worked in landscaping and equipment rentals and is currently apprenticing as an electrician. He and Diana live near Eagle Hill and have one daughter, Linde.
Bruce has ranched ever since graduation from U of A Sue stayed home to raise the children and then went to work for the Cochrane Health Unit as a Home Care Physiotherapist. She still has that position with the Calgary Health Region. They are hoping retirement is in the near future.
Newt passed away suddenly in March 1976. Betty Lou sold the last of the ranch property at Cochrane to the Alberta Government for the Cochrane Ranche Provincial Historic Site and she moved into town. She lived on Cochrane Crescent in one of the houses first built on top of the hill. In 2001 health concerns made it wise for her to move to the Bethany Care Center in Cochrane where she was very active and busy.
The Cochrane Ranche Hands presented Betty Lou with the Women of Vision Award in 2003 for her devotion. work and volunteer teaching contributions to the Ranche. She passed away on September 14, 2005, at the age of 90 years.