The Cochrane Advocate

by M.E. Spicer Big Hill Country pg 175 1977

The Cochrane Advocate began publication in March 1909 with Mr. J. Mewhort as the owner and editor. The office was located in the Fisher Block. 

It was in no way an outstanding small-town newspaper but it helped to form communication between the rural folk and the townspeople. In the course of its existence, which was sixteen years, it had fourteen editors. Nearly all of them owned the paper, and nearly all of them went bankrupt. 

For five years from 1909 until 1914, the Advocate consisted of eight pages, six of which were known as “Boiler Plate”; that meant the six pages were prepared and set up in print by outside concerns. The editor set up two pages of local news and advertisements. The local news occupied two or three columns and took the form of a series of short paragraphs each dealing with a separate topic. The remainder of the front page was devoted to advertisements of the local merchants, the back page carried announcements of strayed animals, livestock for sale, and general notices from local ranchers and farmers. Occasionally an editorial on a local matter was included, depending on the political tendencies of the editor.

The Cochrane Advocate
The Cochrane Advocate

The townspeople were pretty much Liberal and the rural folk were a mixture of politics depending on which area one was living in, but for sure it was a two-party area for many years. Some of the editors got in real trouble expressing their opinions during the Liberal reign in Alberta. There was freedom of the press but only if an editor was careful and did not get carried away with his opinions. The paper was printed weekly, on Thursdays, and was sold by subscription at $1.00 per year. There is no record of circulation because no editor or owner had it very long. Around 1920 the subscription was raised to $2.00 a year. 

In October 1909 C. N. Austin, a homesteader in the Jumping Pound area, sold his homestead and bought the Advocate. He tried to put out his paper something along the lines of Bob Edwards’ Eye Opener; like Bob, he too believed in “Spirits”, the kind that were kept in bottles. He did his best editorials when he was under the influence of the “spirits” but his remarks concerning some of the politicians in the village did not go over too well and within two years he was forced to go out of business. From 1911 to 1927 when the printing press and office were destroyed by fire, no one editor or owner lasted more than three years and the most of them only a few months. Some of the other editors and owners up until 1927 were: W. Strickland, R. Whitfield, W. A. McKenzie, F. C. Atkinson, A. Taylor, Mr. Downey, A. C. Hathaway, Hugh Farthing, and Alwyn Gissing.

Cochrane Rodeo 

By C. D. La NAUZE, Calgary, Alta. 

COCHRANE district has long been the home of good sportsmen. Many years ago it had its own polo team, and many of us remember that splendid mile race track that the Rhodes brothers owned just west of the town and now a fine wheat field. The last occasion this track was operated was in the fall of 1931 when we saw apprentice Johnny Longden ride most of the winners over the thundering turf there. 

Cochrane, still true to form, put on another event on October 1st in the shape of a fall rodeo. A rodeo is a new departure for Cochrane, but the support it received is a good omen for further shows in 1950. 

The setting for the event was ideal. It was up in the hills on the Cook Ranch on Horse Creek about five miles northwest of town. It was a beautiful early October afternoon as we drove through a gate onto the grounds. At first, we could see nothing, but as we moved down a gentle slope we saw, nestled in the coulee below, the nicest little rodeo arena in a natural amphitheater. The poplars and brush showed bronze and golden flames of color on the banks of the creek, and to the south, a glimpse of the dark blue Rockies peeped through these winding foothills. 

It was fitting that Mr. J. J. Bowlen, an old rider and rancher, should open the rodeo and dedicate the program to the pioneers who made the Cochrane district. 

The rodeo itself was not pretentious, but it drew a crowd of over a thousand and was a well-managed local effort with never a dull moment and just enough of it to pass a pleasant afternoon. 

Twenty-one riders had a go at Gingrich’s string of bucking horses and Allen Brown of Sundre put up a splendid ride to win the saddle event. Bill McLean of Kitscoty rode into second place, with Wally Lindstrom of Airdrie third and Reg Kessler of Rosemary fourth. 

The bareback bucking horse event was fair. First money went to Ralph Thompson of Black Diamond. First and second money in steer riding also went to Harry and Ralph Thompson. 

The steer decorating was really good and the gladiators had a difficult task in this somewhat circular arena, but they showed great courage against powerful steers and many were the upsets on both sides. Harold Crowchild of the Sarcee Indians was a speedy winner in eight seconds, with George Nelson of Queens town second and Wilf Gerlitz of Cochrane third. 

There was no calf roping. The judges were Cameron Lansdell of Turner Valley and Fred Galarneau of Finnegan. Mr. Ballantyne of Cochrane was announcer. 

Some spectators might have thought they should have had a closer view of the events but in reality they were just as close to the fun as if they had been sitting at Victoria Park. 

Events were concluded in good time as darkening shadows and a cool wind stole over the coulee. Then a long procession of cars, trucks, Indian wagons and led horses climbed out of the hollow in an orderly fashion and slipped down the hills towards Cochrane, a town once again in the sporting world.

Deep Dive

Leave a comment

want more details?

Fill in your details and we'll be in touch

%d bloggers like this: