Cochrane’s Self Guided Art Tour
Just when you think there is nothing more to see in Cochrane, you will be pleased to discover a self-guided art tour that spans across Historic Downtown. There are currently 17 stops in the tour, and they can generally be divided into four categories: (1) Gateways and panels; (2) Sculptures; (3) Murals, and (4) Art Galleries. Even if you saw nothing else in Cochrane, this tour will impress upon you the town’s extensive preservation of history, its ranching culture, as well as its keen promotion of local art work.
There are two gateways at the west entrance into Cochrane. The First Street West Gateway was built in 2017 to reflect the traditional ranch entryway, and the Fifth Avenue Gateway is a second welcome gate into Historic Downtown. Just beyond the gateways, the Fourth Avenue Panels are five metal pieces that commemorates the Indigenous, the railway industry, women pioneers, ranching and rodeo, as well as Senator Matthew Cochrane.
A number of bronze sculptures celebrate the people who endured tremendous hardships during early settlement. First and foremost, the iconic cenotaph stands beside the Legion to observe soldiers of the Great War. The “Legacy Statue” honours the women who helped to make Cochrane a success. The Bronze Cast Horses depict the cowboy lifestyle and were discovered in a farmer’s field in Northern Alberta. The “Men of Vision” is a famous statue that depicts a cowboy and early days of ranching. Don Begg of Studio West Bronze Foundry was the creator of many of these bronze sculptures including those of the two children in the public library, the Cenotaph, as well as the Legacy, affectionately know by the locals as the “Chicken Lady”.
Speaking of studios, there are a number of them that promote local art that are quite impressive. These include: Saffron Collective Studios, Route 22 Collective Art Gallery, Peacock Jewellers Studio and Supplies, and Final Touch Art Studio.
If the art galleries are closed when you visit, the murals will give you a glimpse of the extraordinary art work. The mural on First Street West characterizes the way of life in Cochrane. The Canada 150 Mural was painted by 1500 local residents as part of the Canada 150 celebration. The Trust Mural at the RancheHouse is a mosaic of 216 individual paintings. This mural was created by 180 local professional and amateur artists to celebrate Cochrane’s cultural diversity. From far away, it illuminates Cochrane’s ranching lifestyle. On close up, the mural is loaded with detail and story.
Customized trips just for you
Packed with history, culture, and artistry, Cochrane’s self-guided art tour offers a rich experience of the town’s present and past. Before starting the tour, pick up a map at the Cochrane’s Visitor Information Centre to help you navigate. Whether or not you are an artist, you will most likely revel at the creation this town has painstakingly put together. Not only is this tour free of charge, it is also available all year round.
Raeann Cheung – guest journalist