Miscellaneous but necessary

pg 32, More Big Hill Country 2009


The Union Bank of Canada was the first bank in Cochrane and opened in 1910. In 1925 it became the Royal Bank of Canada. This was the only bank in Cochrane until the late 1970s. Both the Bank of Montreal and the Toronto Dominion Bank opened outlets but soon closed their doors. Some twenty years later they returned. In the late 1970s the Alberta Treasury Branch opened in the new Provincial Building on Main Street, later moving to its own building at its present location of 5th Ave. The Bow Valley Credit Union also came to town. It was built on the corner of 1st Street and 4th Avenue before moving to its present location on 5th Ave. 

Doctors, Dentists, and Medical Assistance 

As there were no medical Doctors in the late 1800s,  Midwives assisted in many of the births in the district. Margaret (Hatton) Robinson was here in 1898 and delivered many babies. Mrs. Dickie Smith, widow of R. Smith, manager of the Mitford Hotel was the mid-wife during the early 1900s and in 1902 she purchased the Sharp House (near Yee Lee’s) and turned it into a maternity hospital. The first Doctor in Cochrane was Dr. Toronto and he operated it for a time. Dr. Park moved to and lived in Cochrane before and after WW I. He practiced in the town and in the surrounding countryside. He traveled on horseback or by horse and buggy. Dr. Ritchie, who was farming on the south side of the Bow River was called on occasion to set a broken bone or tend to an emergency. Dr. Mecklenberg was an optician and he had his office in the Alberta Hotel in 1915. A Dentist, Dr. G.A. Pollard made regular visits to Cochrane in 1916. Then Dr.Waite came to town in 1920 and ran the pharmacy in 1923. Dr. Rivers was the resident Doctor during the Depression years. 

There was a pharmacy by the name of Currey Drug Store in 1921. Dr. Lymon was a dentist and he had an office at the west end of the Howard Block. Dr. Quirk had an office in the hotel in the 1940s and Dr. Cameron came to town and had an office in the hotel and then moved to the Texaco cabins. Dr. Milne came to Cochrane from Calgary a few days a week in the 1960s. Dr. Prowse opened an office in the Texaco cabins and came out 1 or 2 days a week. Dr. Milne left and Dr. Cox and Dr. McQuitty opened an Office in the old Hart’s Drug store on Main Street. Until then many residents had to go to Calgary for a family physician. 

Legal Services 

There was a Law Office in the Cochrane Hotel for a while in the early years. An ad in the local paper in 1915 announced the firm of Griffiths, Ford, Wright, and Miller would be available for business every Saturday in the Office of George Pitter. From the 1940s until the 1980’s many people went to R.E. Moore for legal advice. He graciously helped them and would take them or use Calgary lawyers to do the business. Otherwise, individuals would go to Calgary themselves to deal with legal matters with the lawyers there. In the late 1970s Ramsay and Ramsay opened a Law Practice in the old Hart’s Drug Store that had been Dr. McQuitty’s office on the main street. Today there are several lawyers in town giving the citizens needing these services a choice without having to go into the city. 

Insurance and Real Estate 

Charles Grayson had one of the first known businesses that sold Insurance. Also, H.C. Farthing has an advertisement in the local paper. In 1912, S. Jones and George Pitter, as well as R.A. Webster, sold Real Estate and at some point, Sid Chester did also. McLeod Insurance and Big Country Realty were both owned and operated by Jack McLeod. He ran his business out of his cabins on First Street West. Jack represented Saskatchewan Mutual until he sold his insurance business to Whittle Agencies. Frank Whittle sold insurance from his implement business. It is thought he started selling insurance in about 1940. He passed away in May 1956 and later his son Ray took over the insurance part of the business and opened Whittle Agencies Ltd. which he operated until the mid-1990’s when he retired and sold out to a group from High River. The Business is still in operation in 2008. Lillian Bryant started Cochrane Insurance in the 1970s and later sold it to Ben Van der Vegt. It is still operating today as Cochrane Agencies. Today Banks as well as small individual insurance agencies have provided many options to serve the people of Cochrane and the area for all their needs in the insurance and investment business. 


In the Cochrane Advocate in 1909 a lady Mrs. Taylor took in washing for a couple of years. The main laundry was run by a Chinese (sic) man Yee Lee. In the 1960s Gordon Hinther opened a Laundromat in the building that had been Andison’s Meat Market. Then in the late 1970’s when the Cochrane Valley Shopping Centre opened, a Laundromat opened there. This business is still operating as Prairie Laundry Mat. Others have come and gone. 

Telephone Exchange Building 

Belle Truman had the first telephone exchange in Cochrane and Ethel Crowe worked for her in 1920. Ernie Crowe was the agent for Alberta Government Telephones at that time. Belle had girls working for her on three eight-hour shifts daily. There was a small cot beside the switchboard and whoever was on the night shift would sleep there. 

The ringing of the switchboard was loud enough to wake them. The Telephone Exchange Office was located on First Street West. The telephone lines were party lines. Every telephone on each line had its own distinct ring. In 1968 rotary telephones were introduced to Cochrane and in early 1979’s AGT built a new exchange station on the site of the old Lind Pool Hall on First Avenue West. The old brick-clad building was demolished in the 1990s and the bricks were used to build the structure and sign on the Royal Bank property on the corner of First Street and First Avenue West. 

Shoe Stores and Repairs 

The first known shoe shop in Cochrane was opened by a Greek Citizen, Nick Cosis who came to Cochrane 

1919 right after WW I. His first store was in the Fisher Block until it burned down in 1927. Nick then moved his shop to a building on the northeast corner of 2nd Ave and 2nd Street. He ran this shop until the 

1950’s when he moved to Calgary. The next shoe store opened in the brick building on 1st Ave West. The owner and operator of this store was Paul Nytrai. He ran this shop from the 1960s to the 1970s. He brought his sister and brother over from Europe and they took over the shop for a short time before it closed. Andison’s Store also sold shoes. 

Hardware Stores 

Mr. J.W. Simpson entered into a partnership in 1908 with Mr. C.W. Fisher and operated the hardware store in the Fisher Block. When it burned in 1927, the hardware moved to the Howard Block, and Mr. Simpson ran the store until 1935 at which time it was sold to Mr. Barney Klassen. Klassen’s Hardware operated until 1957 when Barney retired and Mr. Archie Kerfoot and Mr. Roy Downs purchased the business from him.

In 1958 an addition was added to the north side. Eventually, the hardware came to occupy all of the lower floor of the Howard Block. In 1972, Roy and Ruth Downs purchased the store from Mr. Kerfoot and it continued to operate as Kerfoot and Downs Hardware Store into the 1990s. During this time the hardware supplied the Cochrane area with all its hardware needs plus gardening supplies and kitchen and giftware. Mr. Dave Murray, Jr. son of Dave Murray, the Blacksmith, had a hardware store built in 1947 upon his return from the war. The store, with living quarters above, was built on property belonging to the family. As well as hardware, Dave and his wife Irene had the John Deere dealership and sold propane gas. The store closed in 1974 at which time it was rented out. Since that time it has served in various capacities.

Cochrane Variety Store 

The first variety store in Cochrane was owned and operated by Mike Stapleton in the mid-1960’s. This store was located on the east side of the building that now houses the Cochrane Café. The store sold small appliances, dryers, toasters as well as other household items. They also carried a variety of children’s toys. At the time it was a very unique type of store for Cochrane. Eventually, Kerfoot and Downs expanded to have a small appliance and kitchen department, and then Home Hardware came to town with a similar business to supply the ever-growing town and area. Much later once the shopping malls appeared Canadian Tire moved in south of the Railway tracks and now we have a Dollar Store that is similar to the older Variety Store on Main Street.

Beauty Shops and Barber Shops 

The first known beauty shop was located in Lind’s Barber Shop on First Avenue West during the 1950s. In the 1960s there were three shops operating at once. They were operated by Bettyann (Buckler) Perkins in the MacLeod Cabins, Donna (Clark) Coutts in the Texaco Cabins, and Gladys Henderson. In the 1970s Richard Dolen and his wife Olive had a salon in the MacLeod Cabins and then moved to the Murray Hardware building on 2nd Avenue West. The Kut and Kurl opened in the 1970s and still is in operation in 2008. The Hair Lounge was started by Niki King in 1976, sold to Wendy Groger in 1979, and is still in operation. When the new Cochrane Valley Shopping Centre opened in the late 1970’s Bruna Ferris bought Gina’s Hair Boutique after a couple of years and she continued to carry on the business until moving it to her home in the last few years. 

Barber Shops were often part of the Pool Hall in the early days. Mr. Hewitt had a shop in 1909, then M.J. Baumgartener had a shop in 1920. J. Baldock had the Cochrane Pool Room in 1911. Brodie’s Barber Shop was located on Main Street between the Cochrane Hotel and the Howard Block. It shared the building with Mrs. Allan’s Tea Room. Lind’s Barber Shop was in the same building as the pool hall in 1950s. Mrs. Lind operated Cochrane Dry Goods out of the same building in 1955. This shop was located where the Telus Building is now on 1st Ave. West. Mr. Lind sold out to Walter Favell. In 1964, Pat’s Barber Shop opened in the middle portion of the Andison Building and in 1975 it moved to the side of this building and is now operated as a barber shop and beauty shop. 

Funeral Homes and Estate Planning 

In 1913, J.F. Mallor operated a business offering “Coffins, Caskets, Monuments.” Jack McLeod was a representative for a Calgary Funeral Home and from 1940 to 1956, Frank Whittle represented Jacques Funeral Home. It wasn’t until the late 1990’s that Cochrane had a resident Funeral Parlour. It took many years before the first Cochrane-run Funeral Home came into existence. Slywaka’s Cochrane Country Funeral Home opened an office in the 1990s. About ten years later McInnes and Holloway built a funeral home on Railway Avenue. Mel Charlton and Bruce Mahoney offered services for Estate Planning.

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