The Cochrane Ranche was Alberta's first large-scale cattle ranch. In 1881 Senator Matthew Cochrane acquired several huge leases to land along the Bow River, near the present town of Cochrane, Alta. At its peak Cochrane Ranche totalled about 144 000 ha of range land. In 1881 and 1882 Cochrane's company purchased thousands of head of cattle in Montana and drove them north to these leases, making Cochrane the first of western Canada's great cattle ranchers. Many of these cattle died during the first 2 winters of operation, but in time the ranch became one of several successful large-scale cattle operations along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
A provincial Historic Site (designated in 1977) owned by the town of Cochrane, tours and other interpretive programs are offered at Cochrane Ranche from mid-May to early September. It is open year round. Part of original ranch is preserved in Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park (established in 2008).
See also Ranching History.