Cochrane is a town of 5,400 people (2021) in Northern Ontario. One of its big draws is the Polar Bear Habitat, which is home to three polar bears (as of 2023) that are unable to survive in the wild.
The main industries in Cochrane are transportation, railway, tourism, and forestry. There is also marginal farming around Cochrane. Although the soil is considered to be of good quality, the growing season is too short to have substantial crop production.
Before Cochrane was founded, it was used as a summer camping ground by indigenous people, and a stopping place for fur traders travelling to Moose Factory.
In the early 20th century, the National Transcontinental Railway was built through the area, and in 1907, the place was selected as the junction point with the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway. In November 1908, the lots were sold by auction and a railway town formed. It was named for politician and merchant Frank Cochrane, a former mayor of Sudbury and a federal Cabinet minister from 1911 to 1919.
The settlement was devastated by fire in 1910, 1911, and 1916, but rebuilt each time and became a transportation hub for northern Ontario.
Cochrane has a transitional climate sitting between the subarctic and humid continental climate zones with very cold winters and warm summers.
- Cochrane has Highway 11 (Trans-Canada Highway) passing through it.
- If there is an accident, you won't be able to go anywhere but sit in traffic until the road is re-opened.
- 1 Ontario Northland Railway, 200 Railway St, toll-free: . 6:45AM to 11PM. The Polar Bear Express trains operates several days per week to between Cochrane and Moosonee including stops in Clute, Fraserdale, Coral Rapids, Moose River, and any point on the line to pick up/drop off hikers, campers, canoeists, fishermen, outdoor adventurers, and locals. Travel time to Cochrane from Moosonee is 5 hours. This is one of the few "flag stop" trains in operation in Canada. Operates five days a week year round. During the summer months, there is an additional train on Sundays. No train service on Saturdays or on Sundays during the rest of the year. There is a special canoe car that can hold up to 18 canoes. Canoeists are responsible for unloading and loading their own canoes. No reservations are required. Cost an additional $54 plus GST to train fare. Snack car service and a special family car are available year round. Summer trains also feature: full dining car service, a dome car, and an entertainment car with live music.
- Ontario Northland, toll-free: . Operates bus routes in Northern Ontario.
- Operates the following bus routes to Cochrane:
- Between Hearst and Sudbury including stops in Kapuskasing, Cochrane and Timmins. Travel time to Cochrane from Hearst is 2.75 hours, from Kapukasing is 1.5 hours, from Timmins is 1.25 hours, and from Sudbury is 6.25 hours.
- Between North Bay and Timmins including stops in Temagami, Cobalt, Temiskaming Shores (Haileybury, New Liskard, Dymond), Kirkland Lake, and Matheson. A timed connection from this route to Cochrane is available at Matheson. Travel time to Cochrane from North Bay is 6.25 hours, from Cobalt is 4.25 hours, from Kirkland Lake is 2 hours, and from Matheson is 1 hour.
- Connections are available from Ottawa and Toronto in North Bay and Sudbury.
- Operates the following bus routes to Cochrane:
Ontario Northland bus service runs daily local service westbound to Hearst with connection in Driftwood to Timmins, Sudbury, Parry Sound, and Orillia; southbound to Toronto via Temiskaming Shores, North Bay, and Barrie. Special express shuttle to Hearst for the Northlander and to Iroquois Falls and Timmins for the Polar Bear Express. Bus service also operates from the train station (see above).
The town is served by the Cochrane Aerodrome, but it has no scheduled flights.
- Tim Horton Events Centre. In honour of Cochrane's most famous native, Tim Horton, a Toronto Maple Leafs player who (with businessperson Ron Joyce) founded the Tim Horton's doughnut and coffee chain in Hamilton (Ontario) in 1964.
- 1 Tim Horton Memorial Museum, 7 Tim Horton Dr.. Opened 2008 in the Tim Horton Event Centre, photos, books, jerseys and 568 pucks - one for each goal scored. $2.
- Polar Bear Conservation and Educational Habitat and Heritage Village, 1 Drury Park Rd., ☏ . Summer 9AM-5PM, winter 10AM-4PM. The only captive bear facility in the world dedicated solely to polar bears. Four large outdoor bear enclosures. The Heritage Village has a train station with artifacts dating back to Cochrane’s beginning. The Antique Snowmobile Museum is another popular feature; as well as the homestead, blacksmith shop and trapper’s cabin. The best time to see our bears is in the morning when they are their most active. Adults $16, seniors (65+) $14, students (12-17) $12, children (5-11) $10, family (2 adults + 2 children) $45, children (4 & under) free.
- Cochrane Public Library, 178 4th Ave, ☏ . M W F 10AM-8PM, Tu Th 10AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-4PM. It houses a large collection of books, DVDs, puzzles, video games and other material. Downstairs there is an art gallery.
- In the winter, Cochrane is famous for its world-class snowmobiling.
- Northern Ontario Tri-Culture Festival (Festival Tri-Culturel du Nord de l'Ontario), Hwy 11 West (under the big top), ☏ , toll-free: . Three-day event celebrating French, English and First Nations culture, mid-June.
- Giant Tiger, 180 6 Ave, ☏ . M-F 8AM-9PM, Sa 8AM-6PM, Su 9AM-5PM. Discount department store, grocery, clothing and housewares.
- Hart Store, 25 Brunetville Rd, Kapuskasing, ☏ . One of 60 stores in a regional chain, is to Giant Tiger what Giant Tiger is to Wal-Mart.
- 1 JR's Barbecue Ranch, 63 3rd Ave, ☏ . Famous for ribs.
- Kaylob's Kafe, 282 8th Ave, ☏ . M-F 6AM-8PM, Sa 8AM-8PM, Su 8AM-4PM. Diner.
- Golden Flower Restaurant, 99 6th Ave, ☏ . M 8:30AM-9PM, Tu-Th 7:30AM-9PM, F 7:30AM-10PM, Sa 8:30AM-10PM, Su 2-9PM. Chinese and Canadian food.
- 1 Ice Hut Bar and Grill, 105 3rd St, ☏ . M-F 11AM-11PM, Sa 11AM-2AM, Su 5PM-10PM. Large screen TVs with a range of sporting events. Wings, burgers, pasta, vegetarian choices.
- 1 Station Inn, 200B Railway St. (at Ontario Northland train station), ☏ , toll-free: . 23 rooms with four-piece bath, cable TV, in-room coffee/tea, a/c, Wi-Fi. Sauna, full-service restaurant, fax/photocopy service, meeting facilities, free parking with plug-ins for cars and lock-up for snowmobiles.
- 2 Best Western Swan Castle Inn, 189 Railway St, ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Best Western with 42 rooms, smoke-free, coffee makers and refrigerators in-room, free parking with plug-ins for cars, high-speed Internet, daily newspaper and continental breakfast included. Fitness centre, hot tub and whirlpool, steam room, dry sauna, laundry, meeting facilities and catering. From $165.
- 3 West Way Motel, 83 Highway 11 West, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . Fridges and high-speed Internet in some rooms. $90+.
- North Adventure Inn, 517 11 Hwy W, ☏ , toll-free: . From $70.
- Polar Bear Habitat Camping, 1 Drury Park Rd., ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Unpowered sites suitable for tents, campers and RVs. Dumping facilities and potable water are available. Open fires are not permitted. Propane BBQs and gas stoves are allowed. $25 per night + tax, special summer rate $40 per night + tax, which includes single day entry to the Habitat for up to four people.
NorthernTel offers 4G HSPA+ (max 21 Mbps) and 1xRTT coverage in Cochrane. An analogue cellular service (AMPS, band B) had been provided by Ontera, but that company's GSM footprint now covers Moosonee and Moose Factory only.
- Kapuskasing ― a company town 120 km (75 mi) west along the Trans-Canada Highway. The town's museum is housed in two heritage railway cars alongside the highway. It's on the way to Hearst, the "moose capital of Canada".
- Kirkland Lake ― a gold mining town, about 150 km (93 mi) south. Esker Lakes Provincial Park is nearby.
- Timmins ― a small city with mining heritage and outdoor recreation opportunities.
|Routes through Cochrane|
|Thunder Bay ← Kapuskasing ← Jct S ←||W S||→ Matheson → North Bay|