History of Cochrane Businesses

pg 23 More Big Hill Country 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our series on the businesses begins April 15th

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