Edsbyn is a lively, free-thinking industrial town and the hub of Ovanåker Municipality. Before the industrial age, Edsbyn was a farming community like any other. It was initially part of Alfta parish, but the parish was divided In 1639 and Ovanåker, where the chapel stood, became the ecclesiastical centre. This was not, however, where the town came to grow; it grew in Edsbyn, which was the biggest village in the new parish and home to a quarter of its farms.

There were well-established trade routes towards the coast, inland towards Norway and south towards Falun, and Edsbyn became a crossroads. So it was here that craft and commerce began to expand.
In 1832, Daniel Trolin, a trader, opened a general store in Edsbyn. It was the only one of its kind within a 70-kilometre radius. People travelled long distances to buy items such as wallpaper from Trolin’s in Edsbyn. This wallpaper remains in the old Gammelgården building in the Fågelsjö Heritage Centre in northern Hälsingland. The first village centre grew around Trolin’s shop.


Trolin’s general store in Edsbyn
Trolin’s general store in Edsbyn
Photograph: Erik Bergstrand

The new forestry industry and the life-giving Voxna river influenced the location of industries from the mid-1850s onwards. A sawmill, steam-powered sawmill, saw frame factory, ski factory and timber processing factory are examples of early industries that are the roots of much of modern industry in Edsbyn. 

When the railway tracks were being laid from the coast towards Dalarna and a railway station was being planned, Edsbyn was the obvious choice. This caused a shift in the location of the village centre to the south side of the station.


Master builder Olof Johansson         Johansson’s house in Edsbyn

Master builder and local historian          Johansson’s house, built in 1905 according to his own drawings.
Olof Johansson.

Edsbyn Museum

Master builder Olof Johansson

Olof Johansson (1867–1933) has been called ‘the man who built Edsbyn’. He left his mark everywhere in Edsbyn and in its surrounding villages and district in shops, banks, homes, schools, religious meeting halls, cowsheds and farmhouses. He was not only a builder, but also an industrialist, farmer, local historian, Liberal politician, parliamentarian and religious leader.

Fredric Bedoire wrote that Johansson probably regarded everything as parts of the same whole: ‘to build a new community with a strong belief in progress, while remembering to respect the folk culture that was in the process of being broken down’.


Text Ingalill Tengvall


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