Norman and Laura Kells

pgs 31 & 39 More Big Hill Country 2009

This article differs from most as I could not find any family article in either Big Hill Country or More Big Hill Country. Laura, Norman, Mary-Del, and Joe  Kells certainly have a place in my memory of growing up in Cochrane so I’ve included references to the businesses they ran. 

A search of our archive records shows N. Kells was Fire Chief of the Cochrane department from 1964-65. Norman Kells was also a member of the Cochrane Lions.

Range Grill

This café was located behind the Cochrane Hotel and the building is still standing. It was built by Eustace Bowhay and he sold it to the Sailors in 1945. Later Laura Kells purchased the business and ran the Coffee Bar. Yvonne (Blow) Callaway worked for Laura and in 1952 Yvonne’s mother Mabel Blow ran the business while renting the building. Laura returned to operate the business in 1958 and renamed it the Range Grill. It was a popular place for teenagers and Laura was a wonderful mentor to them. Then the Fraser family ran the café for a short while. Laura sold the business to Gus Graff in 1966, who in turn sold it in 1967 to the Veselic Family and the restaurant was renamed the “Ponderosa”.


When machinery became available for excavating one of the first in Cochrane to have this type of business was Jack Steel. Later some of the others to take on this business were Dave Bryant operating as A&B Construction, Norman and Joe Kells operating as Kell’s Active Excavating, Grimstead Construction, and Roy Genung and Son Excavating. Today there are many companies in and around Cochrane offering this service such as Kelly Harbidge and L. Want and Sons.

Gravel Pits 

Andrew Clarke bought some land south of Griffin Road and east of River Avenue from which they operated a gravel pit. This was originally the Want homestead. His company A. Clarke and Sons started out with a contract to build the old bridge across the Bow River in 1927. Later on, Norman and Laura Kells purchased the gravel pit from Clarke’s and ran it for a number of years. This property is now the Burnco site.

Deep Dive

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