Page 5 - Visitors Guide 2016
P. 5
The settlement of Edson began in 1910 when the Grand Trunk Railway
arrived.
Initially, the line was to be built connecting the hamlet of Wolf Creek;
however, in the ensuing real estate boom, speculators bought up all the
real estate making the cost of building a station in the hamlet prohibitive.
Thus, Edson was chosen and a real estate boom commenced.
In August of 1910, Edson had a paltry population of 15, but by March of
1912, the population had skyrocketed to 1233. The main street on which
the station was built evolved, gaining a two-storey hotel in 1910. The next
year, a national bank, a restaurant, a store and post office as well as an
immigration hall all dotted main street's landscape.
On September 21, 1911, Edson was officially incorporated as a town,
and four schools that year were built to keep up with rising enrollment. By
1912, the town council had planned an eight-room brick school to be built
at a cost of $60,000. By 1913, Edson had its own hospital.
The Edson Townsite Company promoted town lot sales to investors in
large Canadian and American cities. This company, and all the other land
agents in town, were tremendously busy and raking in profits as they sold
land at more than double the price they paid. Although the railway was the
main cause of this growth, Edson was also an important stopover for
travelers heading from Edmonton to Grande Prairie via the Edson to
Grande Prairie Trail.
In addition to having several logging camps and lumber mills, during
the height of the boom, Edson became home to the Marlboro Cement
Citizens fought for
survival of town
makeshift buildings of log seemed to have come
or frame, covered with completed with flies, a store
canvass roofs.” and post office for J.H. by BOBBI FOULDS
“Early 1911 saw the Grigs, and an immigration
erection of the First National hall to house families Open year round, Miller’s Lake is located 13 km west of Edson on History
Bank, a tent store for r e q u i r i n g t e m p o r a r y Highway 16, and boasts a clean day area complete with a small boat launch,
Doherty & Burdett, a shelter.” bathroom facilities, a playground and a fish cleaning station. Soak up the
restaurant for J. Ware which quiet, natural beauty and enjoy fishing either from shore or from a small boat
or canoe, as no gas engines are allowed. Main Street Then Now
A relatively shallow lake, this small jewel is regularly stocked with
5
Between the years 1910
and 1920 Edson experienced
the excitement of an boom, Edson became home
emerging town. Its citizens to the Marlboro Cement
at one time faced the Company plant. In 1914, oil
p o s s i b i l i t y o f b e i n g speculation was rife in the
area, giving birth to the Edson
eliminated as a town. They Oil Syndicate.
fought for the survival of However, by the start of the
their town and succeeded in First World War, Edson's
having it remain on the boom had climaxed due to
newly Canadian National over-speculation as the high
Railway system. real estate prices became
Marguerite Ahlf in her untenable. During the First Settlement began
Take a step
Take a step
Take a step
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Take a step
Take a step
book, “A History of the World War, Edson suffered an In August of 1910, Edson had Take a step
Town,” published in 1986, economic downturn. This was a paltry population of 15, but by
through in time
through in time
through in time
through in time
through in time
through in time
through in time
said, “Some 12,840 acres of heightened by the completion, March of 1912, the population
land were set aside as in 1916, of the Edmonton, had skyrocketed to 1233. The through in time
corporate territory upon D u n v e g a n & B r i t i s h 1910
which the town of Edson Columbia Railway, which main street on which the station
would develop.” created a route to Grande was built evolved, gaining a
“Directly opposite the Prairie that bypassed Edson. two-storey hotel in 1910. The
railway station a clean level The town suffered a drastic next year, a national bank, a
cut had been made through loss in population that year, restaurant, a store and post Did you know?
the mud and water that going from about 1200 to Photos Courtesy: Edson Public Library and Archives office as well as an immigration
marked Main Street in 1910. merely 500. By 1917, Edson's
fate rested upon a decision
Only one two-storey about whether to close the John Boniface’s Hotel, Main Street, Edson 1909 or 1910. The site for the Town of Edson had just been cleared. hall all dotted Main Street's landscape.
structure covered with black Canadian Northern Railway
tar paper could be seen. This line or the Grand Trunk Pacific This is a view from almost halfway down “future” Main Street. On September 21, 1911, Edson was officially
was the hotel of Johnny line upon which Edson incorporated as a town, and four schools that year were
Bonniface … His premises depended. Luckily the Grand operations from1924 until farming in the area as a clays in 1933. Mineral Returning soldiers also built to keep up with rising enrollment. By 1912, the town
were very clean – meals, 50 Trunk Pacific Line was saved. 1941, the year trains switched drought in southern Alberta exploration in general had brought war brides with them,
cents; room 50 cents.” Other settlements that had the their fuel to diesel and no pushed farmers north. The increased in the area bumping up the population of council had planned an eight-room brick school to be built
“Hidden among the trees misfortune of being on the longer required coal. In the a g r i c u l t u r a l i n d u s t r y d e m o n s t r a t i n g v a s t the small town. After the war, at a cost of $60,000. By 1913, Edson had its own hospital.
on the townsite were Canadian Northern Railway, 1920s, a highway was being remained relatively small, economical potential. But the Edson would see new growth Although the railway was the main cause of this growth,
clearings where piles of such as the boom town of built from Edmonton to however, because of the Great Depression loomed with the expansion of the Edson was also an important stopover for travellers
lumber had been unloaded Tollerton, did not survive. Jasper, increasing traffic to the labour intensive task of around the corner. Early in the forestry industry and the heading from Edmonton to Grande Prairie via the Grande
after being hauled from Wolf Edson spent the next few tourist town. The railway clearing the land of trees. By decade, the stock market growth of a new industry, oil. Prairie Trail.
continued to be Jasper's most the beginning of the next slump wreaked havoc on the
Creek over the old Tote decades of its life as a small, important source of income decade, Edson's population lumber industry; lumber could References
Ahlf, Marguerite. Edson –
Road. This material was stable settlement surviving on and development; Jasper's had risen slowly to 1547. Its not be sold at a decent price, so 75 Years: A History of the The local railway yards remained as the critical industry
used in the construction of a modest lumber industry, for Edson—Edson benefitted from increased shipments of
some small scale farming and first great tourist attraction economy was beginning to mills and logging camps were Town, 1986. wheat and coal to and from the town. While the coal
fur trade, as well as a was the Jasper Park Lodge, prosper again. A one storey shutting down. By mid- Bargery, Mary. Picture industry expanded, so did farming in the area as a drought
burgeoning coal industry. A built by the Canadian National addition was made to the large decade, all industries felt the Hinton, Entrance, Brule and
branch line was built through Railway in 1922; two years red brick school, and in 1931, pinch. Unemployment rates Cadomin. Hinton Municipal in southern Alberta pushed farmers north.
the Brazeau coal fields along later, the CNR built an St. John's Hospital was built at were high, and most families Library, 1999. After the war, Edson would see new growth with the The town was originally named
the Luscar, Cadomin, and internationally renowned golf a cost of $90,000. A highway were on welfare. C. J. Taylor. The Railway expansion of the forestry industry and the growth of a new Heatherwood, but the name was
Mountain Park camps to course, and Jasper was getting between Edmonton and Jasper In Edson, the war did and Jasper National Park. industry, oil.
Edson, making Edson an over 10,000 visitors a year by was gradually taking place, alleviate the unemployment Western Canada Service changed around 1911 in honour of
this time.
important shipping point for slowly carved through the situation, but there was little Centre, Parks Canada, June
the coal industry. The local railway yards also muskeg lands around Edson. growth. There were a few new 2004. References: Ahlf, Marguerite. Edson – 75 Years: A Edson Joseph Chamberlin,
During the 1920s, new life remained as the critical Five miles from Edson at residents, mainly from the Industrial Development History of the Town, 1986.
entered the settlements along industry for Edson—Edson Moose Creek, clay deposits Prisoner of War Camp at Branch, Department of vice-president of the Grand Trunk
the Grand Trunk Pacific. benefited from increased were discovered, leading Granada. After the POWs Industry & Development. Pacific Railway.
Hinton became a major coal shipments of wheat and coal to Claynett Ltd. to establish a were sent home following the Survey of Hinton. Government
mining towns, with large scale and from the town. While the plant for the milling, grinding war, some of the prisoners of the Province of Alberta,
ing built from Edmonton to coal industry expanded, so did and processing of commercial opted to return to the area. 1963. 5
Edson Main Street in the early 1900’s.
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