November 23, 2020

Image: A photograph of an Edson Trail caboose, taken from the featured film (SPRA 0001.10.01.17a-b, Fonds 001: Pioneer Museum Society of Grande Prairie & District fonds)

Movie Monday highlights videos from the Archives’ film collection. Every week, an archival film will be featured on our YouTube channel and here on our blog. The Movie Monday project is made possible with the generous funding support of Swan City Rotary Club of Grande Prairie.

Welcome back to Movie Monday! Today’s featured video was created by the Grande Prairie Museum in 1994 with the purpose of educating our community about the Edson Trail – a critical part of our local history. It includes portions narrated by children, which makes it an excellent resource for the classroom.

The Edson Trail includes information about the building of the trail, the towns of Edson and Grande Prairie, preparation for the journey, day to day life on the trail, and methods of travel used by early pioneers. Letters and journal entries are read by various narrators, giving the viewer a deeper sense of stepping into the past and understanding the history from the perspective of those who experienced it.

Before the Edson Trail opened in 1911, pioneers travelled to Grande Prairie via what was known as the Long Trail, which was 800km in length; the Edson Trail was only 250km. But even with the distance greatly reduced, the journey often took months to complete. Most people travelled in what was referred to as a caboose: a covered wagon about 6 feet wide and 13 feet long, with a wooden floor and walls made of wood and canvas. Inside the caboose were beds, a wood stove, and supplies. Homesteaders often packed enough supplies to last a year – the amount of time they expected it to take to become settled and bring in their first harvest.

The journey was an arduous one, but the plentiful land (priced at $10 for 160 acres) was worth the risk for the men, women, and children who braved the trail.

We hope you enjoy this fascinating documentary!

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