Without the waterway cutting through town, Cochrane would not be the community it is today, says Hunter Valley Adventures co-owner and tour guide Kelly Beaton.
“Our water is such a big part of our history and why the town is built where it’s built,” said Beaton. “We want people to know and appreciate it.”
Beaton’s rafting company, which she owns with her husband Shea, is once again offering interpretive guided trips along the river this summer to share a look at the town through a different lens.
“From the vantage point of the river, it’s a little bit of a different take than what you would normally get just touring around town,” Beaton explained. “You’re looking at things from a different angle. It changes the way you see everything.” In Hunter Valley’s tour of the Bow through Cochrane, rafters enjoy a look at the history of the town as well as a lesson in the importance of healthy waterways and ecosystems.
“We basically tell the story of how Cochrane came to be and some interesting characters in the town, bringing in different pieces that tie everything together from before anyone was here from the settler colony,” said Beaton. “We talk about when it was Indigenous land and what it was used for at that time and how it was settled and what changed and shifted.”
The rafting company worked with an elder from Stoney Nakoda First Nation and with the Stockmen’s Memorial Foundation to help steer the history lessons.
“We talk about the role the water plays now, the role it’s played before and everything that’s established around it – including the trees, birds, fish and wildlife that live here, and why it’s important that we care for the river,” Beaton said.
The tour begins where the Bow River and Jumping Pound Creek converge, near the west end of Cochrane, and ends in a quiet passage by the old barn on Griffin Road in the east end of town.
Beaton said the float lasts about an hour, depending on the river’s condition, and has something to offer everyone. Even those who think they know the ins and outs of Cochrane could benefit from the tour, she claimed.
“For people who live in town and think they know all there is to know, they might surprise themselves coming on this tour and seeing something they hadn’t before or learning something new,” said Beaton.
The float is a family-friendly ride for participants five years and older and runs every second weekend from July 9 to Sept. 28. Tours leave twice a day; every Saturday and Sunday, and rafts hold up to about 10 people.
To book a trip and to learn more about Hunter Valley Adventures, visit huntervalleyadventures.ca.
This content was produced by Jessica Lee for Summer Explorer and Great West Media's 2022 Hot Summer Guide.