COCHRANE, JOHN JAMES, engineer, land agent, auctioneer, and politician; b. c. 1827, probably in Scotland; d. 6 March 1867 at Victoria, B.C.
John James Cochrane apprenticed in Scotland as a millwright and engineer; his first employer, the manager of Shotts Iron Works, Edinburgh, described him as “a young gentleman of great intelligence, ability, energy and skill.” Cochrane subsequently worked for several years for the Board of Northern Lighthouses in Scotland as a superintendent of construction of several difficult projects.
Cochrane arrived in New Westminster, British Columbia, at the end of 1858 with letters of high praise from his former employers. For a period of six months he worked in and around New Westminster as a civilian surveyor and engineer under Colonel Richard Moody*. This employment ended when Governor James Douglas*, because of budgetary difficulties, ordered in the summer of 1859 that all civilian surveyors be dismissed and their work be taken over by Royal Engineers.
Cochrane subsequently moved to Victoria, where he soon became an active and well-known resident. At first he was employed by the government, and he undertook such assignments as superintending the construction of the Race Rocks lighthouse and inspecting work being done at Pemberton Portage on the new Harrison Lake – Lillooet route to the Cariboo gold mines. Soon afterwards he entered the real estate and auction business. His excellent training and experience continued to be recognized and he was appointed an assessor of real estate for Victoria in 1860, a member of the Victoria Harbour Commission in 1861, and a member of the General Board of Education of Vancouver Island in 1865. He entered politics, and from 1864 to 1866 was the member for Saanich in the Legislative Assembly for Vancouver Island. He took a leading part in the successful effort to have the capital moved from New Westminster to Victoria in 1866.
Cochrane died suddenly, aged 40, leaving a wife and four children.