Nothing Really Outstanding – Aileen Copithorne

Aileen Copithorne talks about the freedom experienced growing up in Cochrane. CHAPS Cochrane has a YouTube Channel with over 40 interesting stories of Cochrane. 

Aileen Davies grew up in Cochrane in the home that is now the Cochrane Historical Museum.

She has many stories of growing up in a small town.

She tells a story of biking with friend, Dorothy Reed when Mr O’Keefe, the Bank Manager once offered them ride to 12 Mile Coulee to watch the Stampede Fireworks. They left their bikes behind Andisons’ store. Not thinking that fireworks were after dark they didn’t get home until late. Both parents had searched river and creek areas looking for them. “Our parents were so glad to see us we didn’t get in too much trouble.”

“Dorothy and I had stick horses which we rode over the hill to the brickyard. We also had stilts made by uncle Jack. The family across the road had tall stilts and used to sit on roof of house across the street just to watch people.  Their name was  Kinsley.”

Aileen went to school in brick school that used to be where Holy Spirit currently sits. She remembers looking south one day to see the Brushy Ridge fire.  Students were glued to the windows and the smoke was horrendous.

“I was the lone graduate in my class of grade 12. It was very lonely in high school.” She had classmates in earlier grades but they did not stick it out to Grade 12.

“School was  very regimented. Our Principal had a hand bell to call us back to class. If you didn’t behave you got hit with the bell. We used to have to line up girls then boys and march into school.”

“Cochrane used to be divided into east side and west side. You didn’t have friends from the other side of town. You visited the other side if you had relatives but there was little mixing. Many homes in Cochrane had barns behind them for horses and carriages. Homes had large gardens.” Aileen remembers Auntie Annie feeding a lot of men when they got off the train with food from the garden and from local chickens.

She attended a very rigorous 3 year Nursing program at Calgary General. “The first year you felt basically a slave, we were paid $6.00 per month, had no days off, had to attend lectures from Doctors during our off time and had a 10 PM curfew.  Year 3 you were a Senior and had more freedom.” Occasionally she came home on the midnight train.  The uniform was black stockings, striped blue and white dress, with apron and bib with white hat. “The stockings were terrible.” 

Since the train used to stop in Cochrane it was used to get into Calgary.

Thomas Davies Home

Aileen married John Copithorne and moved to their family place that originally sat where Gleneagles Golf Course currently is.

Aileen tells a story about John’s dad when driving their first tractor. He ran it through a fence into McPherson’s. When asked about his accident he said he hollered “Whoa but the damn thing didn’t stop”.

Copithorne family diary
Claude Copithorne 1920 using binder to harvest grain on Cochrane Hill.
John and Aileen Copithorne.

Aileen says they were lucky to grow up in Cochrane in an uncomplicated time. 

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4 thoughts on “Nothing Really Outstanding – Aileen Copithorne”

  1. Loved reading this Aileen. Thinking of Aunty Annie and Uncle Jack and all the special people at the brick yard! The picture of you in your uniform hung proudly at the brick yard.
    Max

    Reply
  2. Aileen lovely to see you looking so good and what a great story. Something you never mentioned but I think you played the church organ at every wedding and funeral in Cochrane for many years.

    Reply
  3. Hello Aileen!
    My husband Jim forwarded this YouTube link from his desktop computer. What a thrill to hear you telling stories from your growing up years!
    You really should mention your great love of music, since generations of folks have been raised on the amazing gift you gave Cochrane and surrounding areas.

    We are doing well and living in Springbank. I’m still performing music. Loved working with you!

    Reply

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