Matthew Cochrane was born in Compton on November 11, 1823. His parents were Mary Lynch and James Cochrane, a farmer of Irish origin. Matthew was the fourth member of a family made up of four children. Mr. Cochrane married Cynthia Mary Whitney in 1849 and they went on to have ten children. His growing years were spent on the family farm which was named Hill(later upon the purchase of land, he would name the property Hillhurst in honour of that farm). He worked in Boston between 1840-1850, where he amassed enough funds to open a shoe business, in the area of Récollets near Montréal in 1854. Samuel G. Smith was a partner of Matthew Cochrane in this venture. The value of the company in 1859 was $80,000 with an annual production rate of $200,000.00 during the 1860's. Matthew Cochrane was able to purchase Hillhurst, a property of about one thousand acres, from the capital of the plant. He had about 40 employees on this property and a number of buildings (including a cheese dairy and training ground for his horses). In due time, his farm became known as a model of organization and a breeder of pure bred stock. The pure breed animals, that he was able to purchase included beef, horses, sheep and pigs. In 1870, her acquired 63 pure bred animals at a cost of $60,000.00 and the animals were imported directly from England. He then became the owner of the biggest herd of pure bred animals imported by a single individual in ail Canada.
This man was able to resell some of these animals at unheard prices for that time (Ex: An English cow "Duchess" was bought for $5000.00 and resold for $20,000.00). In the early 1880's, Cochrane left to seek his fortune, in Alberta. Due to this influence as a Senator in the 1870's and through government negotiation, he was able to purchase land at a good price in this province. In 1881 and 1882 he was able to by thousands of head of Montana beef and had them taken by cattle drive up to land rented west of Calgary. This initiative marked the beginning of the large scale beef industry, in western Canada. He developed a large breeding enterprise named the Cochrane Ranch Company and this ranch became the second most important ranch in Alberta . Meanwhile, he had also had administrative posts in a number of companies, notably the Tolley Manufacturing Company and the Canadian Meat and Produce Company. He was also a Vice President of the Eastern Townships Bank, held an important post at Bishop's College in Lennoxville and was a member of the College for Women in Compton(King's Hall) etc.
He was named as a Senator by the Earl of Dufferin on October 17, 1872. It was at this time that he returned to Compton. He died on August 12, 1903 at Hilhurst following a serious illness which had become a lengthy worry in his family and amongst a number of his friends. He was interred in St. James the Less Cemetery in Compton. The funeral service was held in St. James the Less Church under the direction of William Lord, Sherbrooke Undertakers. The funeral of the Honourable Senator Cochrane was held in Compton on Friday, August 14, 1903. The service was presided over by the Rev. M. Parker. The bearers were members of the family as well as staff members of the deceased. The interment was in the Compton Cemetery. The following persons were seen in attendance at the funeral: Major Baynes, C.M. Holt, Charles Cassils of Montréal (son-in-law of the deceased), J. Turnbull, Major I. Wood, J. McKinnon, A.G. Lomas, E.W. Farwell, J.S. Mitchell, H.B. Brown, C.R., Dr. F.J. Austin, J.F. Morkill, A.H.M. Simpson, C.C. Colby, S. Stevens of Stanstead, G.H. St-Pierre, M.P.P., N.W. Thomas of Coaticook, Hon.Senator Baker of Sweetsburg, Garner Stevens of Waterloo, Alden Learned of Cookshire. With the passing of Matthew Cochrane, the empire he had built did not last.
Our sources: Recherche : Sylviane Ferland
The Library of the Quebec Provincial Archives Cochrane Ranch Provincial Historical Site
Library and Archives Canada Antoine Morin Barrière