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COCHRANE FARM

RR 1, County of Grande Prairie No. 1, Alberta, T0H, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2006/02/16

Cochrane Farm Provincial Historic Resource, County of Grande Prairie (April 2003) ; Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, 2003
View of driveway and farmyard
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Other Name(s)

n/a

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1930/01/01 to 1935/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/03/20

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Cochrane Farm contains several significant buildings and structures dating from the 1930s, including a workshop (1930), farmhouse (1931), barn (1932), and seed cleaning building (1935). The farmstead is located several kilometres northeast of Grande Prairie and comprises 17.76 hectares, including a large tract of natural grassland maintained in its 1910 condition and several buildings and structures constructed between 1940 and 1962 which are not included in the designation.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of Cochrane Farm lies in its association with Robert Cochrane I, a pioneer farmer in Alberta's Peace Country renowned for his huge land holdings, his international reputation as a timothy and alfalfa grower, his preservation of a large tract of native prairie, and his collection of prehistoric fossils.

The Peace Country of Northern Alberta was opened to settlement in 1909 when the township survey of the area was begun. Changes to Canadian homesteading regulations in 1908 allowing for larger farmsteads encouraged many to settle in the vast lands of the Peace - the last agricultural frontier on the continent. Robert and Jenny Cochrane were some of the first settlers in the area, arriving in 1910 and obtaining 1,280 acres of land by purchasing and applying South African Scrip. At the time of their acquisition, the Cochranes boasted the largest farm in the Peace Country. The land they selected was very fertile and Cochrane prospered as a farmer; in 1928 and 1931, he produced what was judged to be the best alfalfa and timothy in the world, winning him international acclaim and attracting settlers to the Peace Country. In addition to his vast and rich tracts of agricultural land, Cochrane also possessed and preserved a quarter section of native prairie, believed to be the largest known acreage of the undisturbed "Grande Prairie" remaining. This land maintains much of the region's indigenous plant life that was largely destroyed during the settlement period in the Peace Country.

Justly renowned for his impressive crops and his forethought in preserving a portion of native prairie, Cochrane also attracted attention for his interest in the collection and study of prehistoric life in northern Alberta. An amateur palaeontologist, he scoured the Kleskun Hills and Wapiti River area searching for fossils, and stored his collection in his workshop, built in 1930. Some of his specimens were sent to the Smithsonian, many more were transferred to the Provincial Museum of Alberta (now the Royal Alberta Museum), while others were acquired by the Grande Prairie Museum. His passion for palaeontology also led Cochrane to organize annual geological picnics to the Kleskun Hills in the years following World War Two. Attended by thousands, the events became major social occasions and also attracted geologists from the University of Alberta.

The earliest extant buildings and structures on the Cochrane Farm were constructed between 1930 and 1935 with typical, western Canadian materials and designs that emphasized function over artistry. Nonetheless, the buildings contain certain elements that mark their individuality. The 1930 workshop is distinguished by its clipped gable roof, while the 1932 barn contains a decorative cupola and an unusual front wall extending above the slope of the roof to form a parapet. The 1931 farmhouse contains several compelling features, including a local fieldstone foundation and a wood framed structure clad in locally-made brick. Situated in a wood-rich area, the farmhouse is thought to be the first rural dwelling in the Peace River region to be built of brick. The significant buildings on the Cochrane Farm are thus representative of both the largely unornamented, functional construction and design of homestead buildings of this period and of the small, idiosyncratic elements that added distinctiveness and style to these structures.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 2143)

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of Cochrane Farm include such features as:

Cochrane Farm landscape:
- spatial arrangement and original sight lines of the significant farm buildings;
- grid-planting of spruce trees;
- preserved native prairie.

The 1930 workshop:
- mass, form, and style;
- clipped gable roof;
- unsophisticated foundation;
- drop siding sheathing;
- rail extending from ridge over clipped gable for hoisting heavy materials;
- plain, boxed eaves;
- door and window style and arrangement;
- mounted animal skull above door;
- fossil collection.

The 1931 farmhouse:
- mass, form, and style;
- field stone foundation finished above ground with carefully cut stone blocks (including 1931 cornerstone);
- high-pitch, clipped gable roof with corbelled chimneys;
- simple, unembellished exterior;
- later addition, wood sided front porch finished with fieldstones in their natural shape and second storey side balcony;
- wood frame with masonry cladding finished in running bond;
- clipped gable dormer at the front and shed-roof dormer at the back;
- one-piece style of pre-cast stone lintels;
- "lugsill" style of window sill;
- original window pattern and style, including single-hung windows on second storey;
- original floorplan;
- plaster finishing on walls;
- original wood flooring, wide baseboards, simple window and door surrounds, simple panelled doors, balustraded staircase, built-in cabinetry, and fireplace.

The 1932 barn:
- mass, form, and style;
- double-sloped gambrel roof with decorative ridge cupola;
- balloon framing;
- symmetrical design with two large doors at either end;
- window and door pattern and style;
- front wall protruding through the plane of the upper slope of the gambrel roof to become a parapet;
- floor plan.

The 1935 seed cleaning building:
- mass, form, and style;
- gambrel roof;
- balloon framing;
- window and door pattern and style;
- large bin doors symmetrically placed on all four walls.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Alberta

Recognition Authority

Province of Alberta

Recognition Statute

Historical Resources Act

Recognition Type

Provincial Historic Resource

Recognition Date

2006/02/16

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1910/01/01 to 1945/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Peopling the Land
Settlement
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Science

Function - Category and Type

Current

Historic

Food Supply
Farm or Ranch
Leisure
Historic or Interpretive Site

Architect / Designer

n/a

Builder

Robert Cochrane I

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (Des. 2143)

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

4665-1334

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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