Cochrane Ideas – April 2019


with Mount Royal University political scientist
and well-known commentator

DUANE BRATTDuane Bratt7 pm on Friday April 12, 2019
at Frank Wills Memorial Hall
(405 – 1st Street S.E., Cochrane, east of RCMP Station)

Please bring snacks if you can. Doors open at 6:15 p.m.

Discussion of political populism is especially pertinent as Albertans prepare to go to the polls on April 16.  Populism can be defined as:

      • A political approach striving to appeal to ordinary people who feel their concerns and issues are disregarded by an elite establishment.
      • A belief in the power of regular people and their right to have control over their government rather than political insiders.
      • Seen as a force in the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president and the Brexit vote in the U.K.

Dr. BRATT will focus on:

      1. His definition of populism.
      2. A look at right-wing versus left-wing populism.
      3. An analysis of current populism around the world
      4. A history of populism in Alberta, including the rise of Social Credit and the potential influence of populism in the April 16 election.

An MRU evaluation of professors by students includes comments that Bratt is “hilarious”, he is an “amazing lecturer” and is “inspirational”.

CBC IDEAS. You might find these programs relevant:
Manufacturing Discontent: The perils of populism:
The Case for Populism.  Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s policies has a hard line stance on immigration, but supports free childhood education, that would be difficult to define as anything but progressive.

FEBRUARY and  MARCH IDEAS. We are very grateful to Bob Kam for sharing his amazing experience with the “Calgary elephants” at our March Ideas and many thanks go to Sandy Aberdeen for his very well organized and thought-provoking presentation on “Climate Change: Is It Too Late?

Cochrane Ideas – March 2019


At 7 pm on Friday March 8, 2019
at King Solomon Lodge Centre Avenue, Cochrane

Please bring snacks if you can.  Doors open at 6:15 p.m.

Bob Kam, the former Elephant Keeper at the Calgary Zoo, will speak about how to work with elephants, how to understand and train them, and also how to deal with the ups and downs of dealing with such high profile and, at times, controversial zoo animals. Bob will also talk about elephant anatomy, especially the trunk, their size, the musth, birthing and health issues. He will also address the question of ivory trade and the current status of elephants in the wild. Bob’s talk will be accompanied by lots of slides.

Bob Kam always had a great love for animals; this led him to a career at the Calgary Zoo starting in1973. During his apprenticeship in animal care three elephants arrived from Sri Lanka, and for the following 40 years Bob was the Elephant Manager leading a team of Elephant Keepers. In the course of his work he learned, applied and taught all aspects of elephant husbandry and health care. He established a very close rapport with the largest and most intelligent animal on four legs just so that these elephants could be cared for properly. Bob was awarded a White Hat in 1997 another one in 2004 for excellence in promoting tourism for the City Of Calgary. He now is retired and, with his spouse Cindy, lives in the Ghost Valley.

Many thanks to Sandy Aberdeen for his very well organized presentation on Climate Change: Is It Too Late? at our February Ideas.  Even some of us who are very aware indeed of the issues on climate change and food security found much to mull over.

Cochrane Ideas – Feb 2019


with Sandy Aberdeen
At 7 pm on Friday February 8th, 2019
at King Solomon Lodge, Centre Avenue, Cochrane

Please bring snacks if you can. Doors open at 6:15 p.m.

Sandy will present selections from the Climate Reality Project derived from his training in San Francisco with former Vice President Al Gore, followed by questions and answers. Discussion could include the following points:

1. Climate Change – Is it too late?
2. How do we talk about Climate Change in Alberta?
3. What can we do? How do we go forward? What are our options for for the future?
4. Life without fossil fuels.
5. Finding Hope.

Sandy has a background in Manufacturing and Continuous Improvement. Since finishing the Environmental Management Program at the U of C over twenty years ago his passion has become devoted to learning about and becoming active with environmental issues. Climate Change as it relates to food security is one of his major interests. He and his son Brendon started one of Calgary’s first Urban Farms. He is a L.E.A.D. Fellow (Leadership for the Environment and Development), is an active member of Citizens Climate Lobby, an organization that lobbies for effective carbon pricing (Fee and Dividend) and a founding member of Calgary Citizens on Climate Change. Sandy has been trained in San Francisco to present the Climate

Thanks to all who participated in the discussion at the January Ideas about the role of women in Cochrane’s development. We were sorry, of course, that illness caused the scheduled presenter, Cheryl Harding, to cancel, but a lively, improvised evening was enjoyed.

Cochrane Ideas – Jan 2019


At 7 pm on Friday January 11th, 2019
at King Solomon Lodge, Centre Avenue, Cochrane

Please bring snacks if you can. Doors open at 6:15 p.m.
Our first Ideas session of the New Year wants to celebrate the significant contribution of women to Cochrane’s development over the years.

CHERYL HARDY, a resident of Cochrane and area for most of her life, will focus her presentation on the ladies, cowgirls and women who have shaped Cochrane. Cheryl looks forward to touching on lots of interesting stories which will intrigue and educate her audience.

Cochrane’s downtown Legacy Statue, otherwise known as the Chicken Lady, commemorates some of those women. Throughout much of the town’s history, women have played a significant role on Town Council, with three high-profile and active women mayors during the second half of the 20th century and early 21st century: Caroline Godfrey, Lydia Graham and Judy Stewart.

Because of her life-long connections with Cochrane, Cheryl Hardy is well qualified to speak on this subject. Her father’s parents had the homestead which is now the Cochrane Ecological Institute. She has been involved with many volunteer groups and has taken a leadership role in many Cochrane events. That includes her participation for several years in the town’s annual Christmas light-up campaign. She still lives on the family farm, just north of Cochrane.

Many thanks to Dr. Mark Hamilton for his presentation on Adult and Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus at December Ideas. He made a potentially difficult subject understandable and fascinating for his audience. He also demonstrated his compassion and dedication to continue treating a condition that can be reversed.

Cochrane Ideas – Dec 2018

Little-Known Disorder Looking Like Alzheimers Can Be Reversed Neurosurgical Procedure For Hydrocephalus Dramatically Saving Lives

Featuring Dr. Mark Hamilton
University of Calgary Professor of Neurosurgery;
Chair and founding member, Adult Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network; President, Hydrocephalus Society

7 pm., Friday, Dec. 14
At King Solomon Lodge, Centre Avenue, Cochrane

Bring snacks if you can. Doors open at 6:15 p.m.

Dr. Mark Hamilton is very committed to his work with hydrocephalus, he brings extensive expertise to understanding this condition. With his clinical and scientific experience as a neurosurgeon and a researcher, he is keen to inform the public about hydrocephalus.

Loss of memory, mobility problems and bladder control issues are often seen as early indicators of dementia. But these are also the same warning signals for hydrocephalus which can be completely reversible.

Normal-pressure hydrocephalus, a build-up of spinal fluids in the skull, affects an estimated one in 200 adults over 55, or 770,000 people in North America. The surgical treatment involves draining the problematic fluid from the skull. If performed early enough, a patient’s memory can be fully restored.

Weeks after the event, people are still talking about William Hawkins’ presentation on China at our Nov. 9 Ideas. Many thanks to William for putting so much energy into a stimulating and humorous evening.

Cochrane Ideas – Nov 2018

15 Years Living in China

By William Hawkins
Cochrane Resident

7 pm, Friday Nov 9, 2018
at King Solomon Lodge, Centre Avenue, Cochrane

Please bring snacks if you can. Doors open at 6:15 p.m.

William will present his interpretation of present-day China based upon more than 15 years of living in China, specifically the Qingdao region of Shandong Province, and including 15 years of extensive travels throughout this amazing land. He will show photos relevant to his experience and supply a cornucopia of anecdotes to support his claims. William will leave plenty of time for audience questions and perspectives but he intends to concentrate upon the harmony and beauty of China, reinforced by the resilience and strength of her people who are forever under a thumb of power designed to keep the masses controlled, both mentally and physically. William believes the Chinese people are the strongest, most adaptable, and motivated souls on this planet, and his depth of gratitude for what China shared with him is bottomless.

William Hawkins was born in the tobacco belt of Southwestern Ontario, and after seeing David Lean’s ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ in the local theatre at age of eight, spent a lifetime adventure traveling to, and residing in, at least 56 countries. With more than two decades of professional experience in the hospitality and allied industries in Canada and the USA, starting in the mid-nineties, management training and motivational sales provided him with a change of pace. Downsized at the turn of the millennium, William concentrated upon freelance volunteer work in Aswan, Egypt; Irbid, HK Jordan; and Dashinkali, Nepal. Then, after 15 years teaching English in China, new government regulations regarding age ended his career. In December 2017 William retired to Cochrane’s natural beauty and friendly demeanour, to be near family. He is presently living ‘happily ever after’.

Cochrane Ideas – Oct 2018

The Challenges Faced by a Small Canadian Charity Working to Improve Access to Water in Africa

With Laurra Olmsted
Director of Uniwater Education

7 pm, Friday Oct 12th, 2018
at King Solomon Lodge, Centre Avenue, Cochrane

Please bring snacks if you can. Doors open at 6:15 p.m.

Laurra: UniWater Education partners with African universities to get more people trained in Africa who have the skills needed to address African water challenges of the future. Based on her experience over the past 7 years, Laurra will outline the historic factors that have shaped African culture, and issues that influence our perceptions of Africa and Africans. She will contrast the differences in working as a small NGO compared to “the big 5” charities in the international realm. Also, the challenges of working in the water sector but not working at the community level will be addressed, and what implications this holds for water security in Africa in an era of climate change.

Please plan to attend her talk and add to the ensuing discussion centred on how best to effect change to the current paradigm.

Laurra Olmsted earned an MSc in Hydrogeology from University College London (UK) in Hydrogeology for Developing Nations in 1992. It was this exposure to Africans as classmates and the examples used in her studies that sparked an interest in working to improve access to water on that continent. She continued to work as an environmental consultant from 1989 until 2007, when an opportunity presented itself for a shift in her career.

Laurra has been working in the non-profit sector since 2005, co-founding Hydrogeologists Without Borders, and then founding and directing UniWater Education. She is a passionate groundwater proponent and believes that there is hope for a water secure future if we work collaboratively to create such a world.

Cochrane Ideas – Sep 2018


7 pm, Friday, September 14, 2018
at King Solomon Lodge, Centre Avenue, Cochrane

Please bring snacks if you can. Doors open at 6:15 p.m.

“An odyssey” is the account of the life of cochrane area resident sarah leete since 1979 – seven decades of rural delights followed by two years of slogging through a slough of despondency and ending with several weeks on an andean high in ecuador.

The presentation will discuss why some people later in life endure a bout of anxiety and depression and how sarah came out at the other end rejuvenated.

If that topic does not turn your crank we shall end with a song to celebrate the lives of departed loved ones of the equine kind.

You can also practise your bowlines on the bight and learn how to tie a diamond hitch as the speaker did pack numerous horses in the rockies and the purcells.

JUNE IDEAS; We are are grateful to those who led the Schools debate, to all those who shared their viewpoints, and to those who came out to listen to the debate.

Cochrane Ideas – Jun 2018

The Annual Cochrane Ideas Debate

This year’s topic

7 pm., Friday, June 8, 2018
at King Solomon Lodge
Centre Avenue, Cochrane

Please bring snacks if you can. Doors open at 6:15 p.m.

Four speakers, two for, and two against, will discuss the following resolution:

Be it resolved that Catholic Separate schools in Alberta lose their status as fully funded by the province, or be integrated into the non-religion-based public system

Speakers for the motion are Heinz Unger and Michael Kerfoot
Against the motion are Andy Marshall and William Hawkins
Moderator is Nic David

Audience participation in the debate will be warmly encouraged. ​
Attendees will be invited to vote at the end of proceedings.
While the debate is potentially controversial, Cochrane Ideas will ensure it is conducted in a respectful way.

MAY IDEAS; We are are grateful to those who came prepared to discuss a favorite book or piece of writing. We are committed to organizing more round-the-circle sessions like this.

Cochrane Ideas – May 2018

Cochrane Ideas invites supporters to a round-the-circle, group participation session..



7 pm., Friday, May 11
At King Solomon Lodge
Centre Avenue, Cochrane

Bring snacks if you can. Doors open at 6:15 p.m.

  • Come prepared to discuss a recent piece of writing that you’d think others might enjoy.
  • Explain what moved you, what you learned, what attracted you to make your pick.
  • Would you recommend others read your selection and why?
  • Please, keep your presentations to about three minutes. We want to give all a chance to participate. And, ideally, there’ll be time for questions and responses.
  • Fiction, non-fiction, serious or comical, Canadian or not, any topic. We welcome them all.

April Ideas: Many thanks to Doug Bouey for his entertaining and informative talk at April Ideas on his Camino Walk. Doug was an engaging speaker with interesting commentary, occasionally reading from blogs, showing photos from along the route, sharing his own and other people’s stories, and also providing a good overview of history.