Languages: English, French, many Indian and Inuit languagesManitoba gets it name from "manito waba", an Ojibwan phrase used for the narrows on Lake Manitoba where the sound from the pebbles being ground against the shore by the storm-tossed waves seemed to the early Indians to have come from Manitou, the great spirit.
Manitoba is bordered by the U.S. State of North Dakota in the south, Saskatchewan in the west, Ontario in the east and the Northwest Territories in the north. Lakes and rivers cover just on a sixth of its surface area. It is 1225 km (761 mi.) from north to south and 793 km (493 mi.) from east to west. Manitoba's coastline, on Hudson Bay, runs for 645 km (401 mi.), and its port there is Churchill.Manitoba's landscape bears the mark of the Ice Age, with its grassy prairie, uplands, dune wildernesses and craggy pine-covered hills, and criss-crossed by rivers flowing into Hudson's Bay.The Hudson lowlands, with their layers of clayey topsoil, fringe the bay and stretch as far as 150 km (93 mi.) inland, before gently rising to the uplands south and west, the highest point being Baldy Mountain, at 831 m (2727 ft), in the Duck Mountains.The biggest lakes in this "land of many thousand lakes" are those left from Lake Agassiz, the vast post-glacial lake that covered most of the province.In the east and, above all, the north the Canadian Shield, consisting mostly of Pre-Cambrian granite, gneiss, quarzite, etc., covers over half the province.Eastern Manitoba's highlands and plateaux were covered by glaciers. These massive moving icesheets carved deep clefts and depressions that eventually filled with water, and laid bare quartz and granite strata that were smoothed down to gentle hills. The thin covering of soil that these acquired was sufficient to support shallow-rooted dense evergreen vegetation.The summers are hot, with average temperatures of between 17° and 24°C (62 and 75°F), and as much as 30°C (86°F) in high summer, although it can be quite cool at night, especially on the lakes.Winters are long and very cold, getting as low as -40°C (-40°F).In the intensively farmed south-west the frost-free period is about 100 days, but in the far north it is only 60 to 80 days.Precipitation is comparatively low. Winnipeg, for example, only has about 120 days with significant precipitation a year.Because of the differences in climate vegetation follows a particular sequence with the prairieland of the south bordered by a belt of parkland - open country dotted with trees, especially poplars - to the north. The dense forests begin around the southern lakes, starting with mixed woodland of poplar, birch, fir and pine, then becoming entirely coniferous before gradually giving way to tundra on Hudson Bay.The ancestors of the native peoples of Manitoba got there from Asia over 12,000 years before the first Europeans. Around 1600 there were four Indian tribes in what is now Manitoba. The Chippewa lived in the bleak tundra around Hudson Bay, the Cree and Salteaux moved around the great forests of the Canadian Shield further south, while the Assiniboine, famous as buffalo-hunters, followed the herds on the prairies in the south-west along today's Canadian border with the USA.The first European to explore the territory was Thomas Button, who sailed along the west coast of Hudson Bay in 1612 on a voyage of discovery, and spent the winter in Port Nelson, claiming the land for England. Like other later European explorers he was looking for the fabled Northwest Passage to India and instead of finding a sea route to the riches of the Orient had stumbled upon Hudson Bay and a land rich in game and wildfowl. The day of the lucrative fur trade had dawned.A year earlier Henry Hudson and his son John, along with seven loyal seamen, had been cast adrift in an open boat in James Bay after a mutiny by the crew of his ship "Discovery". They were never seen again. Hudson had sailed along the east coast of Hudson Bay in 1610, also in search of the Northwest Passage. The harsh winter came on and along with it the mutiny, just as he had planned to head west again.In 1631 and 1633 two English seafarers, Luke Fox and Thomas James - who gave his name to James Bay - explored the west coast of Hudson Bay and its southern inlet, James Bay, again in search of the Northwest Passage.In 1670 King Charles II granted the Hudson's Bay Company the trading rights to all territories draining into Hudson Bay. They were named Rupert's Land after the king's cousin, who was also titular head of the company which now had control of an area of about 8 million sq. km (3.08 million sq. mi.), one-twelfth of the land on earth! Thus the foundations were laid for the world's oldest company still active today, and its most far-flung. The company established trading posts and forts along the coast, then penetrated to the south and inland. Henry Kelsey set out a few years later from York Factory, at the mouth of the Nelson River, in search of yet more fur animals and lived for two years with the Plains Indians, travelling as far as what is today the boundary between Saskatchewan and Alberta.The British and French were constantly at loggerheads over the fur trade and in 1731 Sieur de la Vérendrye began building a line of forts between Lake Superior and the lower Saskatchewan River. These included Fort Rouge, now Winnipeg, in 1738, as he sought to extend France's North American sphere of influence.The rivalry lapsed with the defeat of the French in 1763 until the founding of the North West Company in 1779 to compete with the Hudson's Bay Company. The two companies were eventually merged in 1821, and the Hudson's Bay Company that emerged is still one of Canada's leading store chains, although it abandoned the fur trade in 1991.While the fur-trading companies were still competing with one another the first farming settlement was planned, and in 1811 Lord Selkirk received over 260,000 sq. km (100,360 sq. mi.) from the Hudson's Bay Company, taking in parts of what is now Manitoba, the States of North Dakota and Minnesota, and north-west Ontario. The company wanted to get down the cost of importing foodstuffs, and thus gain a competitive advantage over its North West rival. Scottish and Irish settlers arrived a year later, to be joined by colonists from French Canada and a great many Métis. The North West Company tried in vain to destroy the settlement, and in 1816 Commander Robert Semple and 20 other men were killed at the battle of Seven Oaks near Winnipeg. But the settlement carried on and farming began to prosper, attracting more and more people to come and settle to farming out on the prairie.When the Dominion of Canada came into being in 1867 it wanted to buy Rupert's Land from the Hudson's Bay Company and in 1870, in the biggest land deal in history, it bought this enormous territory, which then had a population of 170,000, from the company for 1.5 million dollars.However, the settlers, led by Louis Riel, were opposed to this union by acquisition, in which they had had no say. Métis descendants of Indians and French fur traders, they feared for their special lifestyle, their language and their culture, as well as for their land rights. The threat to these led to an armed struggle at the Red River before the land purchase was finalised. Louis Riel, their leader, set up a provisional government and tried through negotiation to dictate the conditions for the territory's entry into the Dominion. Although his government collapsed and Riel was executed, the Bill of Rights he had negotiated, guaranteeing equal French and English language rights in school and church, was upheld and incorporated in the Manitoba Act that established the territory as the fifth Province. Those rights were to be the source of further conflict later on.When Manitoba entered the confederation on July 15th 1870 it was known as the "postage stamp province", since it only covered 215 3 170 km (134 3 106 mi.), with Winnipeg its centre. Large parts of the province were not settled until late in the 19th c. Manitoba was extended west to its present boundary with Saskatchewan in 1881 and north to Hudson Bay and its present boundary with the Northwest Territories in 1912.The railroad from the east reached Winnipeg in 1881, making it possible to export its grain. The influx of settlers that followed included many Mennonites, Icelanders and Ukrainians. The population soared from 62,000 in 1881, to 153,000 in 1891, 255,000 in 1901 and 461,000 in 1911. Winnipeg became a melting pot as immigrants of many nationalities - German, Scandinavian, Polish, Hungarian, Ukrainian and Jewish - stopped off in the city on their way west.The policies enacted between 1890 and 1900 were to have a negative impact that is still making itself felt today. In 1890 the government of Manitoba passed the Public Schools Act, discontinuing public funding of Catholic schools and teaching in the French language. Manitoba's Official Language Act of the same year forbad the use of French in the courts and Parliament. These laws were condemned as a denial of equal rights by the French-speaking minority, and Catholic parents feared they would have to send their children to church schools. Both groups campaigned for almost a hundred years to get these statutes reversed until Canada's Supreme Court repealed the Language Act on the grounds that the Provincial Act could not take precedence over the Federal Act which proclaimed Manitoba a French-English province in 1870.The Provincial Parliament has 57 deputies. In Ottawa it is represented by 14 members in the House of Commons and 6 in the Senate.
Riding Mountain National Park is a mix of prairie, woodland, lakes, and marshes. Many people come to Riding Mountain to hike, boat, or cross country ski in winter. A herd of bison roam freely.
Pinawa is a small town on the shores of the Winnipeg River. The town has an 18 hole golf courses as well as a popular beach area. Once known for nuclear research Pinawa now is more about recreation. Sitting at the top end of the Whiteshell Provincial Park, Pinawa is a great base to strike out and enjoy the regions attractions such as canoeing, hiking, hunting, fishing, and in the winter, snowmobiling and cross country skiing.Some of Pinawa's attractions include the Heritage Sundial, The Great Grey Owl Habitat, and Pinawa Dam Provincial Park, site of Manitoba's first hydroelectric dam.
The North Route of Manitoba takes the TransCanada Highway west out of Winnipeg to Portage La Prairie then north-west to the old fur-trading post of Neepawa and further through the Minnedosa River Valley to the Riding Mountain National Park and The Pas and Flin Flon.The North Route goes from the cornbelt towns deep in the interior to the lowlands around Hudson Bay, Riding Mountain National Park with its nature reserves and the timber and mining towns of Flin Flon and The Pas, where it is possible to get a flight to visit Churchill, Canada's only sub-Arctic seaport.
The Interlake route follows the western shore of Lake Winnipeg north through Netley March and Gimli to the Hecla Provincial Park.When in 1875 Iceland suffered intense and destruction volcanic eruptions many of its people chose to leave their beautiful but bleak homeland in search of a similar but more hospitable country where they could carry on with their farming and fishing. Liking what they saw of Manitoba, with its broad fertile prairie and many lakes they settled around Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba.The first stretch of the Interlake route along the western shore of Lake Winnipeg takes in what was once New Iceland, an independent territory where lived and ruled the descendants of those first Icelandic settlers, and where their Icelandic traditions still live on today.It is worth making a stopover in one of the Icelandic-style vacation resorts that have sprung up amidst the forests of spruce, aspen and Scotch pine. The lakes provide excellent swimming and sailing, and there are small car-free islands where moose and bear can be encountered, while in spring the skeins of geese and duck fly in to breed. The landscape is at its most scenic in the autumn, when the woods become a riot of color and the ripe corn stands high in the fields.
The Pas, Canada
The small community of The Pas (pronounced "The Paw") is located in northern Manitoba, approximately 600 kilometers (360 miles) north of Winnipeg. Considered a gateway to the North, The Pas is a Mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. The Pas is considered an excellent base for activities such as canoeing, hunting, fishing, and camping. Originally settled as a fur trading post between the Indians and the white French and English traders, The Pas, has grown substantially over the years.One of the town's highlights is the strikingly blue lake. Considered a rarity in the world, it is one of only three known to exist. The Pas has several major festivals each year. These include the Trapper's Festival, the Agricultural Fair, and Opasquia Indian days.
Manitoba's Cornbelt route runs west out of Winnipeg on the TransCanada Highway across Whitehorse Plain to Brandon and south through the Turtle Mountain Provincial Park to the International Peace Garden.It passes through the heart of the cornbelt, thousands of acres of wheat, barley and oats, the "breadbasket of the world", but also important for its livestock farming.Many farmers and ranchers in the cornbelt take in visitors as guests who can help with such farm chores as haymaking or doing the milking, or sample the pleasures of the lakes, rivers and streams. Spring is the best time for a farm visit since summer temperatures can be as high as 38°C (100°F).
Dauphin is a small town situated directly north of Brandon. The Fort Dauphin Museum describes the history of the town and region. Dauphin is noted for its rich cultural heritage, most prominently of the Ukrainian variety. Great food and culture abounds in Dauphin and several festivals celebrating this Manitoba town take place each summer. Located south of Dauphin is the Riding Mountain escarpment home to Riding Mountain National Park and numerous recreational opportunities. Northwest of Dauphin is Duck Mountain, a great spot for outdoor enthusiasts. Dauphin's claim to fame is that it is Canada's sunniest city.
Virden is located in south-west Manitoba. Attractions in this small town include Virden In-Door Rodeo and the Wild West Daze, held in the fall. The Virden Fair takes place in early July and is one of the town's summer highlights drawing visitors from around the region.Virden sits atop Manitoba's only known oil reserves and is known colloquially as the "Oil Capital of Manitoba". Over 1,200 oil wells can be found in the Virden area.The town is known for its fieldstone buildings, some of which date to the late 1800s.
Virden Pioneer Home and Museum
Map of Manitoba Attractions