Edson’s got the edge on winter for outdoor family fun

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When Ginette Martin looks out at her acreage near Edson, here’s the lovely scene she may see on a sunny winter day: a small herd of sheep grazing on the lawn while her 8- and 10-year-old boys skate on the pond. Then she always knows there are fresh eggs waiting from the family’s flock of chickens. Such are the perks of living away from the big city.

Martin moved to Edson from Vancouver in 2007 – a big and welcome change – because her husband’s family lived here. She can’t count the many pluses of raising her kids in small-town Alberta.

“There are so many advantages; they know how to do chores and there’s a sense of responsibility and independence.” Screen time is rare with her kids because it’s so easy to keep them entertained on the acreage, plus there’s so much to do a short drive or walk from their house.

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When Martin’s not working as an energy healer (a practice that helps people release negative energy from past traumatic events) part-time at the Edson Family Chiropractic and Natural Health Centre, she’s out enjoying winter with her kids.

“Coming from Vancouver, I love that there’s more sunshine here. It’s so much quieter and so accessible, you can get to a quiet spot in minutes, whereas in the city it takes a long time.”

Over the past three years, she and the boys have been doing a lot of cross-country skiing. “It’s close to home and so affordable compared to other sports.”

Edson Alberta ABWays2Winter Hornbeck Cross Country Nordic Skiing
Photographer: Karl Lee
There are more than 40 kms of trails at Hornbeck Cross Country Ski Area.

Both Martin and her friend Sarka Jirickova also frequently head to Willmore Park where you can do just about any winter activity you like – and it’s even closer to town.

“You get everything, snowshoeing, downhill sledding, go for a hike, cross-country…. The hikes are amazing, and you can go walk over to the other side of the river. It’s absolutely stunning,” says Martin.

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The area is also a great place to spot birds, Jirickova says, adding she recently saw a golden eagle on a trail.

But being the “sporty” families that they are, you’ll also find them ice skating at Griffiths Park or on the loop at Bear Lake. For Jirickova they head to Bear Lake to ice fish (just one of many popular ice fishing spots in every direction from Edson).

Edson Alberta ABWays2Winter Hornbeck Cross Country Nordic Skiing
Photographer: Karl Lee
Well-marked, track set cross-country skiing in Edson.

Edson has plenty of cross-country ski trails to choose from and they're well marked and track set. Martin and Jirikcova usually head to the Nordic trails at Hornbeck cross-country ski area, with nearly 40 kms of trails, just 15 minutes from her house. It's home to the Muskeg Flyers, the local Nordic ski group.

Hornbeck’s a favourite for many reasons: the trails are well marked, the track set trails are nicely maintained, it’s nicely treed (keeping the snow perfect), and there’s a warming hut with a wood-burning stove.

Jirickova, a mom to seven-year-old twins, has been an avid cross-country skier since she was a kid. So it’s only natural that she became the Muskeg Flyers’s youth program coordinator in 2020-21. The program has really taken off in the last year. The season prior there were 15 children registered to learn how to ski. In 2020-21 that number ballooned to 35. “We have 12 four-year-olds and they are loving it!”

Edson Alberta Willmore Park Bonfire Karl Lee
Photographer: Karl Lee
Just about any winter activity can be done at Willmore Park, including bonfire time at the end of the day.

All that healthy outdoor living calls for an occasional take-out or eat-in treat at some local restaurants. Both Martin and Jirickova love Fresh Vine, a new restaurant in town that serves up scrumptious, made-from-scratch healthy food. Mountain Pizza & Steakhouse is another favourite for hearty, classics. Jirickova’s family loves seafood so their go-to family-friendly restaurant is Niko Sushi.

For these two moms, Edson has got it all for raising a family and keeping the kids off their screens and free-ranging in nature.

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