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Perseverance and determination best describes the Boothbys

The Boothby family has deep roots in the Cochrane area dating back to 1905. This well-known and respected family can now boast four generations in Cochrane, with a fifth on the way.
Dana Boothby at his Monterra home.
Dana Boothby at his Monterra home.

The Boothby family has deep roots in the Cochrane area dating back to 1905. This well-known and respected family can now boast four generations in Cochrane, with a fifth on the way.

It all started when William Boothby came to Cochrane from Cheshire, England, with his young son, John, shortly after his wife passed away in 1905. He worked at the Cochrane Stone Quarry, however decided to return to England with John after a period of time.

As John became a little older, he decided to return to Cochrane. It seems that once you’ve been here, you always want to come back. When he returned in 1911, he went to work at the Collins Brickyard.

In 1914 when the First World War broke out, he joined the 137th Battalion of the Canadian Army, served at Vimy Ridge and was wounded. He was hospitalized in England, however, as soon as he was well enough he returned to the trenches until the war was over. There was no stopping this determined young man. After a short stay in England, he again returned to Cochrane to homestead some land.

John met Nancy Harbidge at a Sunday social gathering and they were married in 1923.

John and Nancy had two sons, Bill and Bruce. Nancy, or Nan (as she was known by family and friends), came to the Calgary area in 1903 when she was only six months old. Her father worked at Allan’s Quarry on Nose Creek, while they lived in a tar-paper shack until homesteading in the Bottrel area.

Nan was very community-minded and was one of the founders of the library in Cochrane. She was a Sunday school teacher at St. Andrew’s United Church and had some books that she thought would be educational to local residents. Eventually, some of her friends brought books too, and the Cochrane Library was born. Nan passed away in 1962; later the library was named the Nan Boothby Memorial Library in her honour.

Bruce married Dorothy Ellett from Mearns, Alta. and ranched in the Grand Valley area.

Their son Bill helped his father on the farm all his life and he was very proud of his Black Angus cows. They raised cereal crops, mostly barley and oats; also hay for feed. He loved his horses and used them for all farming operations. Bill loved gymkhanas and rode for Slim Fenton’s chuckwagon. In 1957, he married Dorothy Reed, who grew up in the Cochrane area.

After their ceremony, they drove to Okotoks to tell her parents that they were married. Sydney and Lilian Reed, who lived in Cochrane for 35 years, moved to Okotoks when the Cochrane Creamery was taken over by Mrs. Loughery’s nephew. After their marriage, Bill and Dorothy lived 1.5 miles north of Cochrane on Bottrel Road, which was the connection to Highway 22 before it was completed in 1974.

Bill and Dorothy had three sons: Mark and Laurie, both living in Red Deer, and Dana, who lives in Monterra and is still operating the family farm. Dana was going to the University of Calgary in hopes of obtaining a business degree, however, when his father Bill had a stroke, he had to return home to manage the farm. Bill and Dorothy moved into town in 1990, but Bill still loved going to the farm and eventually could drive a tractor again.

Dana proudly said, “Dad worked hard and was an excellent cattleman and horseman.” Bill passed away in 2006 and Dorothy passed suddenly Feb. 23, 2014 at the age of 84.

Bill and Dorothy were very active in the community. They were avid curlers starting in Cochrane’s oldest curling rink located next to the blacksmith shop. Bill was the Draw Master for many years and travelled to various bonspiels. They both loved hockey and all their sons and grandsons played hockey. Dorothy was the Cochrane Generals junior hockey team’s biggest fan and rarely missed a game.

Dorothy had a banking career with the Royal Bank of Canada. After raising her children, she worked at the Bow Valley Credit Union for many years.

She also worked at Andison’s, a clothing store, which used to be located near the Royal Bank. She liked to be with people and, from what many have said, everyone who knew her loved her.

Dana and Melanie Cherwayko met at Cochrane High School and dated for several years before they were married at her parent’s home in Bearspaw in 1987. They have three boys: Tanner, 27, who married Sabrina, has a bachelor of commerce degree from the University of Calgary (completing his father’s path). They’re expecting Boothby’s fifth generation (in Cochrane) this September; Riley, 23, is the assistant golf pro at Links of GlenEagles. He trained at the golf academy in Phoenix, Ariz.; Reed, 19, still lives at home and will be going to Mount Royal University in the fall.

Melanie worked in her own hair salon in northwest Calgary and then stayed home to look after her family when their boys were young. Throughout the years, she worked diligently alongside her husband on the farm and even learned to drive a tractor. Today she enjoys growing her flowers and oil painting.

Dana is a director of the Cochrane Foundation and was head coach of the Cochrane Generals for years. Melanie also assisted the team by keeping the books and doing any organizational work needed.

When the Boothbys received notification from the Town of Cochrane that their land would eventually be annexed, Dana sold a good portion to a developer in 2004, which has now become the district of Sunset Ridge.

“I plan to follow family tradition with my Black Angus herd,” said Dana, “which I keep on a strip of land north of Cochrane. I love what I do.”

The Boothbys deep-rooted history in Cochrane is a fine example of a family working hard, having perseverance and determination, yet willing to change with the times.

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