With a population now surpassing 29,000, it may be hard to imagine the humble beginnings of Cochrane as a small community along the CP Rail mainline.

Thanks to CHAPS, you'll be able to take a glimpse this Wednesday.

The Cochrane Historical and Archival Preservation Society (CHAPS) is opening up its photo archives for a public viewing on Wed. Jan. 16 at the Cochrane Museum starting at 7:30 p.m. They've accumulated a large collection of photographs on a large variety of topics. For some, it will be a walk down memory row. For others newer to the community it's a chance to learn more about Cochrane's past.

"We are an organization that wants to teach people about the history of Cochrane and some recent events really made us realize how important that is," explains Mark Boothby, of CHAPS.  "We're going to open up our photo archives and hopefully people come out and take a look at some of these really old pictures of Cochrane to learn how we got to where we are. So far, there's been a lot of interest expressed and we're really hopeful we can pack the room."

Aerial shot of Cochrane taken in the 1960s provided to CHAPS By Trevor Beynon.There are albums touching many aspects of life here in Cochrane including people, homes, community events and organizations, sports, modes of transportation, industry, buildings, aerial views and the CPR railway stop that started it all.

Some date back to before Alberta was a province and Cochrane was part of the Northwest Territories.

They also hope some of those attending will be able to fill in some of the details missing about the photos.

"Some of our pictures don't have a lot of information attached to them so we're kind of hoping that some people attending can add to our history of what is on these pictures," says Boothby, who has revamped and expanded the organization's social media and is drawing more attention to their activities. "We're going to have CHAPS members taking notes."

CHAPS wants to hold special events like this on a regular basis, depending upon the response. Some people were attending CHAPS regular business meetings in hopes of getting a bit of a history lesson, explains secretary Bernice Klotz, and that inspired the creation of the series.

Besides drawing more attention to CHAPS and the museum, the session could potentially encourage people to step forward to share other historical information, explains president Larry Want.

"We're always looking for information, stories and photographs that people have or have come across," says CHAPS president Larry Want.  "Some might not recognize what they have, but we probably would."

Memberships available

While these sessions are free of charge to any interested people, there's also the opportunity to purchase a CHAPS membership and become involved in the organization.

Memberships fees aren't expensive. It's $10 for an individual, $15 for a family, $5 for students and $25 for a corporate membership. On their membership form, CHAPS is also interested in finding out how people would like to help, whether it's at social activities, with historical research, membership development, fundraising or any other way.

You can sign up at the museum, contact any CHAPS member or go on their website at www.chapscochrane.com.

Fundraiser Underway

CHAPS have always welcomed donations to help present the history of Cochrane, whether it be at the museum, for their historical signage program or other ongoing projects.

In addition, they've recently a launched a Facebook fundraiser that continues until the end of March. Donations can also be made via their website.

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