From its humble beginnings as a western cattle ranch, the town of Cochrane has become a thriving community that’s managed to maintain its small-town charm despite its close proximity to Calgary.
Cochrane was granted a townsite in 1885 by the Canadian Pacific Railway in honour of Matthew Cochrane, founder of the Cochrane Ranche. From 158 residents in 1906, Cochrane today has grown to more than 17,500 people.
“I like the small town atmosphere with the advantage of having the big city services (in Calgary) close by,” said Leslie Deans who has called Cochrane home for the last 17 years. “I like the feeling of community that a small town gives.”
The downtown core includes not only the famous McKay’s Ice Cream but also a collection of kitschy stores such as Poor David’s and tasty places to stop for a bite to eat from the vintage flair of the Cochrane Café to the home baked pies at the Home Quarter Mercantile & Pie Shoppe.
A project years in the making, the Town is in the process of developing what’s called The Quarry — a project that will eventually link the downtown to the site with the extension of the town’s Centre Avenue as a four-lane arterial road.
Between 1964 and 1988, the site was home to Domtar, a wood treatment facility who, according to the Cochrane Eagle newspaper, used a tar/creosote mixture consisting of semi-volatile polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and pentachlorophenol, to treat to railway ties leading to the contamination of the soil.
In 2010 Springwood Land Corporation, the owners of the site brought in Biogenie, a site assessment and remediation business unit to remediate the area. The Town of Cochrane began the process of compiling a planning and design framework for the site in March 2011. The Centre Avenue connector will provide Cochranites access to the Quarry, which has future hopes as a collection of big box stores, smaller shops, residences, easy pedestrian access and the potential for plazas and sidewalk cafés.
The housing market in the community is a thriving one with sales in the third quarter of this year totaling 414 units, a 25 per cent gain over last year’s numbers.
“The rise in sales was accompanied by a recent decline in new listings,” said Ann-Marie Lurie, CREB® economist. “This helped reduce the persistently high inventory levels in the town, bringing the months of inventory to levels more consistent with a balanced market.
“As market conditions improved, so did the prices. Following price declines throughout most of 2011, prices have started to rise as inventory levels finally retracted. As of September, the benchmark price of a single-family home totaled $388,600, a six per cent increase over the previous year. Despite the rise, unadjusted single-family benchmark prices remain $40,000 below 2007 highs.”
McKays’ Ice Cream
If you’ve heard of Cochrane, then you’ve more than likely heard about MacKay’s Ice Cream. For over 60 years the MacKay’s have been whipping up icy, sweet treats that have been sampled by locals and tourists from around the world. In 1948, Cochrane General Store owners James and Christina Mackay decided to expand their business by attracting daytrippers from Calgary by making ice cream in the back of the store and a local legend was born. McKay’s Ice Cream
Leasing 109,000 acres west of Calgary thanks to a federal Conservative government largescale leasing policy, Senator Matthew Cochrane established the Cochrane Ranch in 1881. Due to hard Alberta winters and poor herding practices, the ranche’s cattle were relocated south to a new lease on the Belly River and sheep and horses were raised instead. Although that venture failed as well and the property was broken up and sold in 1888. Today, the ranch serves as a park, used year-round by residents for picnics, hiking and other events and is home to the Men of Vision statue overlooking the town. Cochrane RancheHouse
Spray lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre
Operated by the Spray Lake Sawmills Recreation Parks Society, the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre (SLSFSC) opened in 2001. The centre features three arenas which are well utilized by hockey and ringette teams — including the Heritage Junior Hockey League Cochrane Generals — an indoor turf field, gymnasium, indoor track, meeting rooms and café. As well as various sporting events and tournaments, the SLSFSC has a wide variety of drop-in and registered programs. Spray lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre
Follow your nose to the cozy confines of the Coffee Traders cabin located in downtown Cochrane. Family owned and operated for more than 20 years, Coffee Traders also has a roasterie in town. As well as a wide variety of coffees, the coffee shop also has an extensive tea and beverage selection and plenty of fresh baked, tasty treats. Not a resident of Cochrane? Coffee Traders products can also be shipped. Coffee Traders