Cochrane Historical Museum
I was transported back to the 20th Century when I stepped into the Cochrane Historical Museum. Originally a homestead built in 1909 in the Horse Creek area by Thomas Davis, much of its original layout remains today. The museum is located on the Cochrane Historic Ranch Site. The museum is unique not only because of its artifacts, but also because it is run by dedicated volunteers. Donna MacDonald greeted me at the door and shared fond memories of her husband Raymond, who served as the last fire chief from 1978 to 1981. If you see Raymond at the museum, feel free to ask him questions because he can tell you a story about every fire department artifact on display.
A notable section of the museum is the hospital and nursing area. When the home was under construction, a resident doctor named Dr. Park asked Davies if he would extend the home to include a medical facility. Davies agreed, and the hospital operated from 1910 to sometime after 1915. Today, there are still residents in the area who claim they were born there!
Walk Around Historic Main Street
The hospital and Main Street walk are permanent exhibits that are periodically updated. Each year, the museum has updated displays based on their collection or borrowed artifacts. Currently on display you will find historical toys borrowed or donated from the community.
Rotating artifacts on display
Jade Lewis, a summer student working at the museum, shared why anyone would want to visit the site – she affirmed, “It is because of the personal stories.” As a young adult, Jade learns of new stories every time she works at the museum. She feels that, “This museum offers a historical landscape that goes farther back in time than most museums do in Calgary.”
I exited the museum the same way I entered and felt a discernible transition as if I were whizzed back to present day. The Cochrane Historical Museum offers a rich sense of the past not only with extensive archives but also with caring people and precious memories. Despite being small in size, the museum is packed with comprehensive information that is thoughtfully organized and displayed. The only cost to a visitor is a feedback comment in the museum’s guest book—a fair exchange indeed for history and cultural enthusiasts.
Raeann Cheung – guest journalist and photographer