Cochrane is a 30,000 person town. The town was named in 1884 by the Canadian Pacific Railway for Senator Matthew Henry Cochrane, who established the Cochrane Ranche Limited nearby in 1881. He began the first large-scale ranching in the area in the 1880’s. He would raise cattle in the area and drive them to the stockyards beside the railroad in Calgary.
Cochrane Hill, north east of the town, has an incredible view south over the town, the Bow River, across the foothills and west to the Rocky Mountains. The Stoney Indians called the prominent hill “Manachaban” (the Big Mount) where they collected their bows and arrows.
The town is decorated with an old west theme, with wood timbers and folksy
decorations. Cochrane is also home to Mackay’s Ice Cream, which for over 50 years has attracted visitors with its popular homemade ice cream. The town’s architecture is distinctly western-style. This creates an appropriate atmosphere for the local arts scene. The town is close to several unspoiled film locations for westerns, including “Legends of the Fall” and the Lonesome Dove television series.
Wild West Fashion Show (mid June), Wild West Show (late June), Dominion Day Tea (July 1), Heritage of Horses (early August), Artisans Festival (late August), Lions Rodeo (end August).
Trans-Canada Highway @ Highway 22 (Springbank Rd)
245033 Range Road 33
Calgary, Alberta T3Z 2E9
Western Canada’s largest outdoor family amusement park with 19 exciting rides. Also has an R.V. park and campground. Now also open for winter activities.
northwest of town, before Highway 22
This 60 hectare park, with visitor centre and museum, is where Senator Matthew Cochrane began his ranching operation in 1881. A large bronze statue, “Men of Vision” overlooks the grounds with walking trails, and picnic grounds. Open 10-6 from Victoria Day to Labour Day.
Ghost River/ Ghost Lake/ Ghost Reservoir Provincial Park
Rocky View County, AB
(about 35 km west of Calgary on 1A)
According to legend, the lake is named for a Blackfoot Warrior and his Stoney Maiden, who were killed fleeing her tribe’s warriors. Ghost lake, 15 km west of Cochrane, where the Ghost River joins the Bow, is one of the favorite windsurfing lakes around Calgary, noted for its consistently strong westerly winds (NOTE: always wear a wetsuit).
Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park
255001 Glenbow Rd, Cochrane, AB T4C 0B7
Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park is a provincial park located on the north bank of the Bow River within Rocky View County., just south of 1A (Crowchild Trail) about 2/3 the way from Calgary to Cochrane. An active cattle ranch alongside the Bow River, with excellent walking trails.
Jumping Pound Creek
Jumping Pound Creek flows into the Bow River southwest of Cochrane. The creek is named for a buffalo jump on a high, steep bank near its mouth. There is a large gas plant close to the creek.
Located West of Cochrane on Highway 1A
Rev. George McDougall and his son John, pioneer Methodist missionaries to the Stoneys, built this first Protestant Church in southern Alberta in 1875. Since 1952, memorial services have been held on a Sunday afternoons between May and September. Open to visitors summertimes.
Mission of Our Lady Of Peace
The site of the first Catholic Mission in Southern Alberta,is commemorated by a 1939 cairn erected nine miles south of Cochrane. The missionary labors of Father Constantine Scollen established the Mission of Our Lady of Peace in Blackfoot Country in 1873, joined by Father Leon Doucette in 1875. The two spent their lifetimes as the “Missionaire Aux Pieds Noirs”.
Mt. St. Francis Retreat
The Mount St. Francis Retreat is run by the Franciscan order of monks, was until 1949 a magnificent ranch house. Built by Charles Fisher, the town’s leading merchant (who came from Ontario in 1899). He owned the Merino Ranch and was elected to the Alberta Legislature in 1906 to become the First Speaker of the House. He held that position until 1919, when he died in the great Spanish Influenza epidemic. He married a niece of the Carling brewery family in 1907, promising her a castle in Cochrane. His magnificent country mansion overlooks Big Hill Creek, and was the centre of social activities and lavish entertainment. In 1931 it became the Just Home Guest Ranch owned by the McConachie Family, until it was acquired by the Franciscans.
Studio West Bronze Foundry & Art Gallery
205 2 Ave. SE Cochrane Industrial Park
This operating bronze foundry has a special viewing area for visitors to see skilled artisans creating and casting sculptures and bronze statues. The process includes the intricate steps of the age old “lost-wax” method of bronze casting. Open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily.
Western Heritage Centre
north of town on highway 22
101 RancheHouse Road
Cochrane, AB T4C 2K8
This building serves as the municipal council meetings and events like the Christmas Crafts Fair, and has magnificent views toward the mountains.