I was on the return path to home the other day and passed a place I regularly see on my walks—which is about twice a week. I know it is there, but I usually only give it a glance in my peripheral vision as I pass by. However, on this day, the place gained my full attention. It was the light that did it. Instead of a couple of benches huddling under some dreary, old poplars, the place seemed to be radiating the late afternoon winter sunlight rather than just reflecting it. I had no choice but to make the photograph above.
On that day it wasn’t too cold, so I sat on one of the benches and looked out to the south. The view was mostly of more old poplars growing on the other side of the rest stop, but there was an expansive view west, up the Bow River valley, with the light from the sun dappling off anything that was sticking up including houses on Bow Ridge and the trees up the river.
Just below this resting place there is an old concrete wall that sticks out of the side of the hill. I glance at it as I walk by, always wondering what it was for, but then walk on and forget about it. As I was writing this essay about the ‘Place of Repose’ I kept thinking about that wall, wondering about its history. Through a few contacts I was able to learn more about it. One of those I talked to was Bruce Boothby.
Bruce is one of the sons of John and Nan Boothby. Their family farmed and ranched the land close to this resting place. The land is now covered with the housing of West Valley and West Terrace in Cochrane. Nan Boothby was the lady for whom the Nan Boothby Memorial Library was named. Now, however, it seems to be only known as the Cochrane Public Library. Most newcomers to Cochrane know nothing about the Boothby connection, which I think is a shame. That’s fodder for another essay.
The old concrete wall is probably what is left over from a cooling room for a dairy that was near the ‘Place of Repose’. That dairy was operational in the late 1800’s and the 1900’s, but I wasn’t able to find out who the family was who owned and operated the dairy. Around 1930 the land where the dairy was located was bought by the King family. The King’s didn’t operate the dairy after they bought it. Bruce Boothby bought the land from the Kings sometime around 1955.
There is a small creek sourced from a natural spring up the hill from the ‘Place of Repose’ and that flows down a shallow coulee to the Bow River. When the dairy was operational, the water from that creek was diverted through the cooling room of the dairy. Milk was gathered from the ranchers, put into large milk storage tins, and kept in the cooling room. The full tins were transported to places in the town of Cochrane and even to Calgary for processing into various dairy products.
A note for Cochranites: This dairy should not be confused with The Cochrane Creamery, which was known for its high quality butter. That creamery was located on the property that is now the Cochrane Ranche Park.