Valleyview has played a vital role for travellers heading north for well over a century. From as early as the 1880s, it was a transportation hub and offered multiple stopping points along the Edson to Grande Prairie Trail – a route many Canadian homesteaders came to rely on.
Today, there are highways with every convenience a traveller could want, but pioneers on the road back then faced many hardships. Read on to find out more about the Edson to Grande Prairie Trail and the role that Valleyview played in its brief but fascinating history.
Opening up the north
The Edson to Grande Prairie Trail was opened by the Alberta government to encourage homesteaders in northern Alberta. The trail was only used from 1911 to 1916 because, by early 1917, a railway had been built from Edmonton to Grande Prairie making the trail obsolete.
By 1909, homestead areas were offered and the northern land rush was on. During the winter of 1910 -11, labourers battled steep hills, freezing weather and thick forests to create the trail, which included bridges and ferry crossings.
The trail opened in March 1911 and the first prospective homesteader was Harvey Switzer who set out on March 5 and arrived in late April, a trip that takes less than four hours today. In 2005, the Edson Trail Historical Society filmed a docu-drama re-creating the making of the trail to show a new generation the challenges their ancestors faced.
Valleyview was site of many stopping places
No one knows exactly how many people travelled the 400-kilometre Edson Trail during its brief lifespan, but historians estimate 13,000 people braved the rough track through forest and muskeg.
There were no hotels, but Valleyview included more than a dozen stopping places such as Fatty Smith's three-tiered bunkhouse, the Hudson's Bay Company post and Marshead Creek where many travellers left their heavier belongings as the track got steeper. Those belongings eventually sunk into the muskeg, lost forever. Once the trains started, the trail fell into disrepair and the forest reclaimed its territory.
Today, there are only a handful of old stopping points that still show evidence of the past, including the St. Francis Xavier Mission. This site houses a functioning Catholic church and historic cemetery.
One way to travel the trail is by using an interactive map that includes downloadable GPS points, historic photos, diary entries from the pioneers and other information.
Remembering the hardy pioneers
In 2011, to mark the trail's centennial, the Homestead Rock Cairn Project was dedicated near what had been the Calliou stopping place in Kleskun Hills Provincial Park. The cairn honours the homesteaders who settled in Valleyview. Many of the stones in the cairn came from the early homesteads and are carved with names, dates and the homesteads' original locations.
If you're staying in Valleyview and want to learn more about the trail, the public library includes a gallery of historic photos or you can use the interactive map to plan out visits to these pioneer spots in person.
And the perfect base for anyone interested in reliving the area's history is the Paradise Inn and Suites Valleyview. Located just five minutes from the town centre, we offer affordable hotel accommodations and top notch amenities including a heated pool with waterslide, fitness centre, hot tub, meeting rooms and a 24-hour Tim Hortons restaurant.
Alberta’s Peace Country has earned a much-deserved reputation for having some of the best fishing in the province. And if you’re an avid angler heading to the Valleyview area, you should try your luck at one of the nearby fishing holes.
You’ll find two fairly large lakes – Snipe Lake and Sturgeon Lake – just a short drive away from town. And they each offer ample opportunity to snag a big one, whether you’re going after white fish, walleye, trout or northern pike. Plus, there are also a handful of much smaller fishing holes nearby.
So make sure your tackle box is fully stocked and then try tossing a line into one of these nearby lakes.
Located about 25 kilometers east of Valleyview, this is one of the two bigger lakes that are relatively close to town. Snipe Lake spans an area of about 11,000 acres and is pretty shallow with a maximum depth of about 20 feet. Most of the lake is less than 15 feet deep.
If you’re lucky, you might snag a hefty northern pike – they can weigh up to 30 pounds. There’s also ample perch and some white fish. Ice fishing is especially productive at Snipe Lake, but be sure to check out the road conditions before you go. Getting to Snipe Lake can also be tough when it rains, as the gravel roads become soft.
Please note that from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, fishing at Snipe Lake is only allowed between sunrise and sunset of each day.
Sturgeon Lake is home to Young’s Point Provincial Park and Williamson Provincial Park. More than 150 different species of birds nest in this area.
The lake, located 18 kilometers west of Valleyview, has a natural population of walleye and pike. Plus, just like Snipe Lake, these waters offer a great spot for winter fishing. But in the warmer months, if you’re casting from shore, give the narrows at Sturgeon Lake a shot.
The lake is best in June and early July, when the water is cooler. However, that hasn’t kept fishermen from launching their boats in the fall at Young’s Point. Expect walleye here to reach up to five pounds, perch to be around two pounds while whitefish can weigh up to four pounds. Also, the pike has been known to tip the scales at a whopping 30 pounds as well.
Fishing at Sturgeon Lake is only allowed between sunrise and sunset of each day from Oct.1 to Jan. 15.
The area surrounding Valleyview is also dotted with a series of smaller lakes, which can sometimes yield decent fish. Or head further up the highway and stop at East Dollar Lake to try for some trout.
After you’ve put in a few hours of fishing, settle into one of our comfortable rooms at the Paradise Inn & Suites Valleyview. We offer an array of amenities that will make you feel right at home.
For years, the figure of the Cowboy has been one that has been constantly associated with Alberta and all around prairie lifestyle. These epic figures of the Wild Wild West have stood the test of time and embody the rough and rugged spirit that is Alberta. With the Calgary Stampede being one of the most internationally recognized events that takes place is Canada, it’s no wonder that when people think of Alberta they think of dusty cowboy boots, wild Mustang horses and of course, the famed Cowboy hat. Our own Prime Minister never forgets to don his very own when he visits Oil Country.
And where would the famed cowboys be without their rodeos? It is in this spirit and celebration of all things cowboy that the town of Valleyview brings you the annual Valleyview and District Agricultural Society’s Annual Fair and Rodeo this August. The rodeo promises to deliver three days of wild Albertan entertainment, excitement and a rip-roaring good time. Valleyview is no stranger to Rodeo champions, including the 1998 Rookie of the Year, 1997 Bareback Champion and Four Time All Around Cowboy; any spectator is sure to be delighted by the wild horse-roping styling of all our buck-riding cowboys.
Kicking things off on August 9th, the Rodeo and Fair continues every day until the 11th and offers many great activities for the whole family, such as a fantastic parade, a cattle show, the Crocus Hill Stampede, and plenty of exceptional exhibits. Fill your tummies at the many concession stands, but be sure to save room for the annual Pancake Breakfast which jumpstarts the entire event with the sizzle of fresh pancake batter on the skillet right on Main Street. The month of August is also the famed Corn Boil month in Valleyview, where members of the Recreation Department travel to every municipal community to offer fresh cooked dinners of Alberta grown corn on the cob, refreshments and other barbeque favourites, as well as crafts for kids to participate in.
If you’re looking for the best place to stay while practicing your lasso, look no farther than Paradise Inn & Suites, located right in the heart of Valleyview. Our modern, comfortable accommodations have all the amenities any cowpoke may need on their travels through the beautiful Alberta countryside. And if pancake breakfasts and corn feasts aren’t enough to fill your rumbling belly, never fear! We offer a complimentary breakfast and a delicious waffle bar every morning. So whether you’re just passing through, or here for an extended stay, you’re sure to get your fill here at Paradise Inn & Suites Valleyview.
For the next 5 days, the 36th annual Grand Prairie Stompede will be the hottest thing happening in the Peace Country, attracting over 30,000 spectators for concerts, carnival rides, chuckwagon racing and more rodeo events than you can count on two hands.
It all takes place at Grande Prairie’s Evergreen Park (just over an hour west of Valleyview) from Wednesday May 29th to Sunday, June 2. You’ll also find a number of community events happening around the town of Grand Prairie all week long.
2013 marks a record-breaking year for the Stompede with a budget exceeding one million dollars and prize money totalling $125,000 for Sunday’s “Dash for Cash” chuckwagon event. In addition, this year’s Stompede features a host of new additions including more entertainment, food and activities than ever before.
Among the most popular attractions is the Stompede Beer Gardens that plays host to the festival’s musical acts. This year’s headliners include Canadian country singer Aaron Pritchett and the legendary Joe Diffie who’s had over 35 songs on the Billboard Hot Country chart.
For many riders and racers, the Stompede marks their first stop of the year on the pro circuit, with competition in everything from saddle brone to steer wrestling. Other attractions include the Miss Stompede GP pageant, the Stompede Parade and the ever-popular midway.
If there’s one thing Albertan’s know, it’s winter. Like the rest of Canada, much of the year out here is spent buried under layers of snow, sleet and ice; scraping frost off your windshield and wrapping chains around your tires. The temperatures begin to drop in late fall and before you know it, it’s a winter wonderland all around you. Like most Canadians though, people out here in Valleyview have learned to embrace winter and relish in all the fun that can go hand and hand with frozen lakes and mountains of snow.
A town known for its wide range of outdoor recreational activities, Valleyview has something to offer everyone no matter the season: from cycling, hiking, camping and golfing in the summer; to skiing, hunting, and snowmobiling in the winter. If the spring thaw has you already yearning for just one more day of winter sports, never fear. The Polar Palace indoor ice rink
is open year-round to satisfy those not quite ready to surrender their skates for the season. Offering ice time for figure skating, hockey, and curling, there’s a little something for everyone at the Polar Palace ice rink. Located at the intersection of 44th and 52nd avenue, the Polar Palace is home to Valleyview’s hockey team, the Valleyview Jets, and also the Red Willow Curling Club. Call today for public skate times
In May, the Polar Palace is hosting two notable activities open to both people locals and visitors alike. On May 16th, come down at 1 pm for the annual Valleyview Clean-up Blitz
, a time to show your community support and work together to clean-up the town and show how Valleyview can really sparkle. There will be a free BBQ following the clean-up and free swim passes given out to everyone who attends. Starting May 9th until June 13th, the Polar Palace is hosting Girl Power
, a positive, inclusive, and fun sports program for girls aged 9-13. It provides an opportunity for girls to decide as a group which sports they’d like to participate in and helps to promote and encourage an active and healthy lifestyle from an early age. Registration is only $40 for 6 weeks. Sign up your little one and then hit the rink yourself for a healthy dose of ice time.
Peace Country winters might be long, but we don’t mind: it just means more time for skiing and ice fishing! If you’re visiting Valleyview in search of outdoor excitement, don’t leave without fishing on frozen Sturgeon Lake or carving the powdery runs of Little Smoky Ski Hill.
Sturgeon Lake is just 20 minutes outside of Valleyview, popular in the summer, but just as worthy of a visit in the winter months, when it becomes a hot spot for ice fishing. Walleye, pike, perch, and whitefish call these waters home and, if you’ve got what it takes to fish the frozen lake, you might call one of them dinner. What it takes isn’t much: ice fishing requires conveniently little gear, just a good, sturdy rod, an ice augur to make a hole (unless you’re lucky enough to find one) and a bucket to sit on. Remember, however, to exercise caution when ice fishing: avoid driving on the frozen lake and be sure to check the ice thickness to ensure the area is safe.
If hitting the slopes is more your speed, Little Smoky Ski Hill is the place to be to be. About an hour north of Valleyview, Little Smoky is affordable, well run, and equipped with modern facilities including an equipment rental shop and a spacious chalet serving hot, home-cooked meals. The hill features two lifts, a terrain park with jumps and rails and 10 exhilarating runs to satisfy both beginners and seasoned pros.
For whatever brings you to Valleyview, the Paradise Inn and Suites is your destination for comfortable, modern, yet affordable Peace Country accommodation. Book your Paradise Suite today and look forward to a warm and luxurious place to relax after a long day skiing the slopes and catching some righteous fish!
Although most Canadians would like to shed their stereotypical image (especially the parts related to igloos and the word “eh”), a burgeoning new trend among Tim Hortons customers validates one common stereotype of Canada: we are a nation of uncommonly kind people. The trend is called “pouring it forward”, where a customer will pay in advance for the person behind them. It’s a delightfully simple concept and one that taps into the spirit of neighbourly goodwill that towns like Valleyview are built around.
The most notable instance of the “pour it forward” trend took place in Winnipeg just a few days before Christmas where, as Yahoo News reports, a chain of 228 Tim Hortons customers each paid for the person behind them. Similar gestures have been reported at Tim Hortons restaurants across the country and the trend is gathering momentum as more people jump at the chance to do something nice for a stranger.
So next time you grab a coffee at our on-site Tim Hortons, don’t be surprised if you’re the beneficiary of some unexpected goodwill. Just be sure to keep the chain going!