The town was founded as Heatherwood, but the name was changed around 1911 in honour of Edson Joseph Chamberlin, vice-president of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. In the 1950s, upgrading of Highway 16 caused a dramatic increase in private, commercial and industrial traffic. Today, the Yellowhead Highway carries some of the heaviest traffic flow in Alberta and has been declared the second Trans-Canada Highway. In the 1970s, a revitalized coal industry launched the Cardinal River Coal and Luscar Sterco mines in the area. In the 1980s, Pelican Spruce Mills (now Weyerhaeuser Canada) and Sundance Forest Industries (now Edson Forest Products a division of West Fraser Mills Ltd.) became two of Edson's major employers.
Edson lies in the McLeod River valley, immediately east of the Canadian Rockies foothills. The surrounding landscape consists of primarily taiga forest with sand hills and muskeg. The town is at an altitude of 925 metres (3,035 ft). Two provincial parks are west of Edson: Sundance Provincial Park along Sundance Creek and Obed Lake Provincial Park surrounding the three Obed Lakes.
Due to Edson's high elevation, the community experiences a subarctic climate.
The main industries that drive the local economy are resource-based: coal, oil, natural gas and forestry products.
- 1 Edson Airport (YET IATA). There is no scheduled passenger flights. Edmonton or Calgary are options.
- Edson has good connections via Highway 16, Highway 16 goes to Jasper and British Columbia and Edmonton.
- It is 192 km (119 mi) west of Edmonton along the Yellowhead Highway (16) and 10 km (6.2 mi) east of the intersection with Highway 47.
- 2 Edson station, 5001-1st Avenue West. This is a "sign post" station with no local services. The Canadian stops at the Edson railway station three times per week in each direction as a flag stop.
There is no public transport available in town, and it is advisable to bring a car.
- Galloway Station Museum and Travel Centre, 223 55 South (almost exactly between Edmonton and Jasper). Late May to early Sep: daily 9AM-7PM, rest of the year M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-5PM. The Travel Centre offers a coffee bar, state-of-the-art barbecue, fully equipped kitchen and free wireless Internet access. The museum offers exhibits on Edson's history, including a general store, a blacksmith's shop, a still, a printing press, railway history, and Aboriginal history. The Travel Centre is free, the museum admission is adult $5, child (5-17) or senior $3, family $15.
- Kinsmen Spray Park, 7 Avenue and 48 Street (at Kinsmen Park). late May/early June to Sep: daily 10AM-8PM, weather permitting. Interactive outdoor playground with washroom facilities, plenty of green space, picnic tables, fire pits, and a dry and wet playground.
- The Boot Shop Saddlery & Western Wear, 320 50 St, ☏ . M Tu W F 9AM-6PM, Th 9AM-8PM, Sa 9AM-5PM. Western apparel store.
- The Antique Place, 5020 2 Ave, ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-6PM. Antique store
- 1 The Olive Tree, 4340 2 Ave, ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-9PM, Su 11AM-8PM.
- Mountain Pizza & Steakhouse, 5102 4 Ave, ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su and holidays 11AM-9PM. Steakhouse, pizza, Greek. Italian dishes $12.50-21.50, steaks $24-36.
- 1 Comfort Inn, 5517 4 Avenue, ☏ .
- 2 Econo Lodge, 5601 2 Avenue, ☏ .
- 3 Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, 4520 2 Avenue, ☏ .
|Routes through Edson|
|Vancouver ← Hinton ←||W E||→ Edmonton → Saskatoon|
|Jasper ← Hinton ←||W E||→ Wabamun → Edmonton|