Tucked away in a Bow River valley 15 minutes away from Calgary, the Town of Cochrane is a mix of big city amenities and small town charm situated a stone’s throw from the Rocky Mountains.
“Cochrane is a small, friendly community with big hearts,” said resident Kim Cruickshank.
As of the 2010 Federal Census, there were 17,580 residents in Cochrane, an increase of more than 10,000 from 1996’s numbers. There were 53 sales in the town during the month of March at an average price of $396,108.
For active families, there are several soccer pitches and baseball diamonds as well as the Cochrane pool and the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre. Film lovers can take in shows at the local theatre as well as screenings put on by the Chinook Film Group, showing independent films for the more particular filmgoer.
With a downtown core featuring historical favourites such as MacKay’s Ice Cream and the Cochrane Café, coupled with new commercial development just south of the downtown, Cochrane mixes new with old seamlessly as it continues to grow.
To get a sense of the town’s history, you have to go back to 1881 when under the Dominion Lands Act, a grazing lease was issued to the Cochrane Ranche Company Limited, a group under the leadership of Senator Matthew Cochrane.
With good grazing land, the close proximity of the Bow River and young City of Calgary, and a nearby North West Mounted Police post, the Cochrane Ranche had all the ingredients for a successful operation. Unfortunately, Alberta’s winters weren’t quite what operators expected and cattle losses over the next few years were so great sheep were introduced as a more viable opportunity.
In 1887 the ranch was divided as the completion of the railway and a continuous flow of settlers lead to a need for the land. By 1911, Cochrane had a population of 395 residents and before the First World War was home to a stone quarry, a sawmill and four brick plants. While the post-war depression saw the town’s economy drop, Cochrane regained its feet after the Second World War and was incorporated as a town in 1971 as the population exceeded 800 citizens.
Tucked away just off First Street, Coto Japanese Restaurant is a bustle of activity day and night. So far Cochrane’s only dine-in sushi offering, Coto offers everything from bento boxes, to Tonkatsu to tempura in a small familyfriendly atmosphere. Reviews on Urbanspoon include, “This is some of the best sushi we have had in the Calgary area” and “We have been eating at the Coto ever since we moved to Cochrane in 2004. Every meal is an absolute pleasure”.
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 day-trippers from Calgary by making ice cream in the back of the store and a local legend was born. Since then the business has been taken over by James and Christina’s daughters Rhona and Robyn.
Leasing 109,000 acres west of Calgary, Senator Matthew Cochrane established the Cochrane Ranch in 1881. 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 overlooking the town. The statue, created by Malcolm James McKenzie and placed in it’s current location in 1979, was commissioned by Alberta Culture in honour of the working cowboy.
Once home to Domtar, a wood treatment facility — a large chunk of land in the middle of town is evolving into new commercial and residential space. In 2000, about nine hectares of the site were remediated and developed into commercial and emergency services leaving about 18-hectares to be remediated. In 2010, owners of the site brought in Biogenie, a site assessment and remediation business unit to remediate the area and in March of 2011, the Town began the process of compiling a planning and design framework for the site.