After writing about TriHub last month, the second local “Hidden Gem” I want to share with Cochrane Eagle readers is the Stockmen’s Memorial Foundation.
The Stockmen’s Memorial Foundation, which houses the Bert Sheppard Library and Archives, is located in the Cochrane RancheHouse, just half a kilometre north of the Highway 22 and Highway 1A intersection.
The Stockmen’s, as it’s colloquially known, was officially organized in 1980 by 50 founding members comprising ranchers, farmers and individuals who wanted to commemorate the Canadian livestock industry through an official Act of Alberta Legislation
Objectives of the Stockmen’s Memorial Foundation include identifying, honouring, and remembering the builders of western Canada's livestock industry and those who contributed to its progress; and providing historical and business information related to the livestock sector. The Stockmen’s also seeks to familiarize the public with the lore of the cattle industry, and encourages a general appreciation of the sociological and economic significance of the sector.
Visiting the Stockmen’s will open your eyes to the ranching history in southern Alberta. At the library you can find more than 13,000 books related to western culture from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia, including a complete collection of “brand” books for Alberta from 1888 to the present, as well as brands from some from the other provinces.
The library also boasts over 6,000 magazine issues on such topics as ranching, rodeo, horsemanship, veterinary science, history, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and many more.
They also have a video catalogue. Known as “Heritage Voices,” this is a collection of over 100 early pioneers who were videotaped by Stockmen’s volunteers. Such pioneers as Nettie Ware and Ed McKinnon are just two representatives of this once-in-a-lifetime collection.
As well, over 100 audio tape cassettes of interviews and tales of the west as told to the noted author Sherm Ewing are also housed at the Stockmen’s. The entire transcripts of these tapes have been deposited in the library.
Yet another reason the Stockmen’s is such a gem is its extensive collection of canceled brand files. (This information is especially of interest to those tracing their or others’ family history). This project came to the Stockmen’s Memorial Foundation in the late 1980s and involved numerous boxes containing the original files of brand requests from 1888 to the 1980s. Visitors should note that only canceled brands are in this collection.
Scott Grattidge, executive director of the Stockmen’s shared with me details on one of the upcoming events they will be hosting. On Saturday, Oct. 29, the “Back in the Saddle” annual dinner and auction fundraiser will take place at Cochrane RancheHouse. The doors will be open at 5 p.m. and tickets are available at stockmen.ca.
Scott also told me about the “Cowboy Coffee” mornings, which take place every Thursday at 10 a.m. This is your opportunity to sit down, have a coffee, and chat with a local rancher about the history of the foothills around Cochrane.
Feel free to visit this wonderful “Hidden Gem” the first chance you get. The library is open from Tuesday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and is closed Mondays and weekends after the long weekend.
So, saddle up and enjoy the visit!