Logged in as user  [Login]  |
Return to Search Results Printable Version

Key Number: HS 73348
Site Name: Cochrane Ranch Co. Ltd.
Other Names:
Site Type: 0501 - Farming and Ranching: Farm or Ranch House
1910 - Archaeological Site
2005 - Ranch


ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
26 4 5

Address: 1 mile W of Cochrane
Number: N/A
Street: N/A
Avenue: N/A
Near Town: Cochrane


Type Number Date View


Plan Shape:
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure:
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes:
Exterior: Lot size: over 700,000 acres.
Buildings are constructed on togs.
Interior: N/A
Environment: 1 mile W of Cochrane. 109,000acres. Site is one mile west of Cochrane in Northeast corner of intersection of HWYs 1A and 22. Short Legal: 5; 3; 7; 29; NW 5; 3; 7; 32; SW 5; 3; 7; 19; NW 5; 3; 7; 30; SW Parcel D Plan 5812CH, exepting thereout Parcel E 2290EU, widening of Highway No. 1A 3646EZ, Road plan 8810979
Condition: Building in process of being dismantled. Logs reportedly in poor condition. All former non-Cochrane Ranch buildings have been removed form the site (1976) and the remaining 1880s buildings are now being dismantled due to apparent structural weaknesses throughout. The original ranch house has served as residence, ruin and pig pen. At present (?) it is still standing, but in disrepaire. It is by road-building operations.
Alterations: N/A


Construction: Construction Date:
Usage: Usage Date:
Ranch / residence
Owner: Owner Date:
Minister of Culture
Architect: N/A
Builder: N/A
Craftsman: N/A
History: Earliest major Ranching Enterprise. First large ranch development in Alberta. May 14, 1881 - The Cochrane Ranche Co. (Ltd.) was incorporated. Senator W.H. Cochrane was president, son W.F. Cochrane was manager, the Co. included Hugh McKay, William Lawrence, William Cassils, William Ewing and Charles Cassils of P. of Quebec. Major James Walker was local Manager and Dr. D.M. McEachren was Resident General Manager. Spring 1881 - Walker goes to Montana buys 6,800 head of cattle. Frank Strong, foreman for the I.G. Baker Co. headed the drive. The cattle were driven (far too quickly) from Montana to the Cochrane holdings, arrived in late autumn. Winter 1881-82 - Exhausted cattle die in unusually high numbers during the winter. Summer 1882 - Walker resigns after several conflicts with eastern owners and with McEachren. However, before resigning purchases 4,000 more head from Montana. Again cattle be driven too hard during the drive, encounter snow storm, Winter 1882-83 - herd boss asked to allow cattle to rest but Walker (and perhaps the owners) insist that cattle be driven onto the range. Heavy snow covers Cochrane land. Owners foolishly insist that cattle stay on snow covered range. Frank White arrives Sept. 7, 1982 to take over bookkeeping duties. On Oct. 7, 1982 W.D. Kerfoot arrives to take over Walker's job. No hay was stored for winter. Kerfoot wants to let cattle drift south - owners refuse. Out of 12,000 head only 4,000 remain number includes gains in calves. Spring 1883 - Ranch sells beef to Blackfoot, Sarcee and Stoney reserves, to N.W.M.P. and through meat store in Calgary. Following this disasterous winter cattle are moved to another lease in Waterton district. Calgary lease was retained and expanded. Kerfoot remains at Calgary Ranch. This land used as pasture for horse during remainder of 1883. Feb. 1884 - Original owners form British American Ranche Company to retain the Northern Lease. Summer 1884 - W.H. Cochrane and Kerfoot travel to Montana to buy sheep. Sept. 1884 - Kerfoot arrives at Bow River with herd of sheep (8,000 head). Additional 200 head arrive from England. During this time A.E. Cross hires as bookeeper and veterinarian. Spring 1885 - Prairie fire kills 1,000 head. April storm drives sheep into slough, several hundred drown. Sheep enterprise does quite well despite this unforseen trouble. 1887 - Kerfoot resigns, also has trouble with owners. E.B.H. Cochrane takes over when Kerfoot leaves. Price of mutton and wool declining. Sheep kept on north side of river at old ranch site. New buildings on south side of Bow River horse breeding carried out there. Oct. 1887 - Land on north side of river sold as are the sheep. New company formed, held land on south side of Bow River and east of Jumong Pound Creek. New company known as Bow River Horse Ranch Co. breed horses for sale in Britain. G.E. Goddard was bookkeeper and then manager. In 1894 Goddard, E.H. Warner and W.P. Warner bought the remaining lease and stock. This was the end of Cochrane's involvement.

* * *

Rranch 1880 - 1888 (founder: Senator M.H. Cochrane) (Originally 1,9000. Acres) (1884 - Sheep Horse Ranch) Brickyard 1892 - 1919 Baynon - Davis Dairy 1919 - 1950 Albert Ranch 1950 - 1971 Alberta Gov't 1971 - Present

* * *
Site History: Ranch established in 1881, closed operations in 1888. Brickyard operated on site from 1898-1919, dairy from 1919-1950, and another ranch from 1950-1971, when the Province acquired the site. Heritage Significance: The Cochrane Ranch is significant to the economic history of Alberta in that large scale cattle ranching was first undertaken at this ranch. Though itself a failure, the Cochane Ranch experience enabled subsequent ranches throughout Alberta to become successful and an important aspect of this province's development. In addition, the ranch site housed the Little Brick Company and Collins Brick Company, between 1898 and 1919 - two significant early participants in the production of brick in Alberta. Historical Importance: As the headquarter of the 100,000 acre Cochrane Ranch Company, this site has major significance. The Ranch was instrumental in demonstrating the economic feasibility of establishing a large scale cattle ranching industry in Alberta, in spite of its own personal losses and eventual failure. The brickyards are at least of regional importance to the construction industry in the Calgary area. Architectural Importance: The remaining buildings are not particularly outstanding, and are fairly representative of such structures. (The site does offer some archaeological potential for former ranch buildings and the brick company kilns.)

* * *
Draft for Immediate Release October 5, 1977 Cochrane Ranch near Calgary Designated Provincial Historic Site The headquarters of the Cochrane Ranch, Alberta's first large-scale cattle ranching operation, has been declared a Provincial Historical Site. The Hon. Horst A. Schmid, Minister of Culture, announced that the 120 acre site near Calgary is being preserved and developed by the province for the people of Alberta. In 1881, the Cochrane Ranch Company, headed by Senator Matthew Cochrane of Montreal, was granted 109,000 acres in the Big Hill area west of Calgary. Thousands of cattle were driven up from Montana to graze. Two hard winters slashed the herds and the company decided to re-locate farther south in the Belly River area. Trying another approach, the company switched to raising sheep and horses on the ranch. The was not as profitable as hoped and in 1888 the property was sold. In subsequent years, the ranch site was occupied by a farm, two brick companies (among the first in Alberta) a dairy and finally the A.N. Gilbert Ranch. The Province purchased approximately 120 acres in 1971, including the former site of the ranch headquarters. Recently, through a cooperative program between Alberta Culture and Solicitor General, correctional institute inmates under supervision of an archaeologist excavated the ranch's bunkhouse and manager's residence. Unfortunately, the few remaining buildings from the ranch's early years had deterioated beyond repair, and were dismantled. Although a financial failure, the Cochrane Ranch represents the first important effort to establish the cattle industry in Alberta. What Senator Cochrane learned from his experiences enabled later ranching opertions to become successful.


Status: Status Date:

Designation Status: Designation Date:
Register: N/A
Record Information: Record Information Date:
S. Khanna 1993/09/30


Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-0153
Return to Search Results Printable Version

Freedom to Create. Spirit to Achieve.

Home    Contact Us    Login   Library Search

© 1995 - 2023 Government of Alberta    Copyright and Disclaimer    Privacy    Accessibility