Matthew Cochrane was born on November 11, 1823 at Compton and died here on August 12, 1903. His parents were James Cochrane and Mary Lynch. His father was an immigrant farmer from Ireland. Matthew was the fourth child of a family of five. He married Maria Whitney in 1849, and they had nine children, three boys and six girls.
At a tender age, he worked for a local farmer, Mr. Hill and, in fact, named his farm Hillcrest in honour of his former employer.
From 1841 to 1854, he worked in Boston, Mass. Amassing there sufficient funds, he opened his own shoe factory in Montréal in partnership with Samuel G. Smith. With the capital accumulated from this enterprise, he purchased his farm, Hillcrest, in Compton which eventually grew to more than 1,000 acres. As a prospering landowner, Mr. Cochrane employed 40 people. He had constructed on the property a large number of buildings, including a dairy for the making of cheese. He also had built a race-track for his horses.
In time, his livestock farm became a model of efficient organization and a source of pure-blood breeding animals. Amongst his acquisition of livestock, he had a beef herd, horse herd, and sheep and pork flocks. In 1870, he imported 63 pure-bred cattle directly from England and, as a consequence, owned the largest herd of any one person in the whole of Canada. As a businessman, he managed to sell some of his herd at prices hitherto unheard of.
On October 17, 1872, he was appointed to the Canadian Senate and through his federal political connections he was able to acquire properties in the Canadian West. He instituted the second largest ranch in Alberta under the title of the Cochrane Ranch Company. In the meantime, he took on the directorship of a good number of companies; amongst them notably Tolley Finance and Canadian Meat & Produce.
After his death the Cochrame Empire slowly fell apart.
Source: Antoine Barrière-Morin for the TCCC and the Canadian Biographical Dictionary