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Manitoba ( ) is a Canadianmarker prairie province with an area of . It is bordered by the provinces of Ontariomarker to the east and Saskatchewanmarker to the west, the territories of Nunavutmarker and Northwest Territoriesmarker to the north, and the U.S.marker states of North Dakotamarker and Minnesotamarker to the south. It also has a saltwater coastline on Hudson Baymarker. Agriculture dominates the province's economy.

In 2006, Manitoba had a population of 1,213,815 (730,305 of which was in the Winnipeg Capital Region). Manitoba's capital and largest city, Winnipegmarker, is also Canada's eighth-largest Census Metropolitan Area, and has Canada's seventh-largest municipality. There is a significant Franco-Manitobain population in Winnipeg, but the largest ethnic group is English. There is also a growing aboriginal population.

The name "Manitoba" is believed to be derived from the Cree, Ojibwe or Assiniboine languages. Fur traders first arrived during the late 17th century. Manitoba entered Confederation on July 15, 1870, after the Northwest Rebellion, and was the first province to join Canada under the British North America Act (BNA Act) after the original four provinces. A general strike took place in Winnipeg in 1919, and the province was hit hard by the Great Depression. This led to the creation of what would become the New Democratic Party of Manitoba, the dominant political party.


Relief of Manitoba
Manitoba is bordered by the provinces of Ontariomarker to the east and Saskatchewanmarker to the west, the territories of Nunavutmarker and Northwest Territoriesmarker to the north, and the USmarker states of North Dakotamarker and Minnesotamarker to the south. It also has a saltwater coastline on Hudson Baymarker at Churchillmarker.

Geology and terrain

The province has the longest saltwater coastline bordering Hudson Baymarker and contains over 110,000 lakes, covering approximately 15.6% or of its surface area. Major Manitoba lakes include Lake Manitobamarker, Lake Winnipegosismarker, and Lake Winnipegmarker; the last of these is the tenth-largest fresh-water lake in the world and the largest located entirely within southern Canada. Lake Winnipeg's east side has some of the world's last remote and intact watersheds. The large rivers that flow into the east side of Lake Winnipeg's basin are pristine and largely undeveloped. Many uninhabited islands can be found along the lake's shores. Many of these originate in the Canadian Shield in neighbouring Ontario. These areas have only been used as native fishing, hunting, and gathering grounds for thousands of years. Some traditional land use areas of the east side of Lake Winnipeg are a proposed United Nations World Heritage Site, with the approval of their First Nations communities.

Lakes of Manitoba (major lakes of )
Name of lake Total area Altitude
Lake Winnipegmarker 24,387 km2

(9,416 sq mi)
Lake Winnipegosismarker 5,374 km2

(2,075 sq mi)
Lake Manitobamarker 4,624 km2

(1,785 sq mi)
Southern Indian Lake 2,247 km2

(868 sq mi)
Cedar Lake 1,353 km2

(522 sq mi)
Island Lakemarker 1,223 km2

(472 sq mi)
Gods Lakemarker 1,151 km2

(444 sq mi)
Cross Lake 755 km2

(292 sq mi)
Playgreen Lakemarker 657 km2

(254 sq mi)
Dauphin Lakemarker 519 km2

(200 sq mi)

Important watercourses include the Redmarker, Assiniboine, Nelsonmarker, Winnipeg, Hayes, Whiteshell and Churchill River. Fishing along the Red River is an important part of Manitoba's tourism economy of Manitoba. Most of Manitoba's inhabited south lies within the prehistoric bed of Glacial Lake Agassizmarker, or the Red River Valley. This region is extremely flat because it was once the bottom of the ancient Lake Agassizmarker, which covered the area. However, there are hilly and rocky areas throughout province, along with large sand ridges left behind by receding glaciers.

Baldy Mountainmarker is the highest point at above sea level and the Hudson Bay coast is the lowest, at sea level. Other upland areas include Riding Mountainmarker, the Pembina Hills, Sandilands Provincial Forest, and the Canadian Shield regions. Much of the province's sparsely-inhabited north and east lie within the irregular granite landscape of the Canadian Shield, including Whiteshellmarker, Atikaki, and Nopiming Provincial Parksmarker. Birds Hill Provincial Park was originally an island in Lake Agassiz after the melting of glaciers.

Extensive agriculture is only found in the southern half of the province, although there is grain farming in the Carrot Valley Region (near the The Pasmarker). The most common agricultural activity is cattle farming (34.6%), followed by other grains (19.0%) and oilseed (7.9%). Manitoba is the nation's largest producer of sunflower seed and dry beans and one of the leading potato producers. Around 12% of Canadian farmland is in Manitoba.


Because of its location in the centre of the North American continent, Manitoba has a very extreme climate. In general, temperatures and precipitation decrease from south to north, and precipitation also decreases from east to west. Since Manitoba is far removed from the moderating influences of both mountain ranges and large bodies of water, and because of the generally flat landscape, it is exposed to numerous weather systems throughout the year, including cold Arctic high-pressure air masses settle in from the north west, usually during the months of January and February. In the summer, the air masses often come out of the Southern United States, as the stronger Bermuda High Pressure ridges into the North American continent, the more warm, humid air is drawn northward from the Gulf of Mexicomarker, similar to that experienced in Southern Ontario.

Southern parts of the province, located just north of Tornado Alley, experience tornadoes each year, with 15 confirmed touchdowns in 2006. In 2007, on June 22 and June 23, numerous tornadoes touched down, including an F5 Tornado that devastated parts of Elie (the strongest officially recorded tornado in Canada). Temperatures exceed 30 °C (86 °F) numerous times each summer, and the combination of heat and humidity can bring the humidex value to the mid-40's(C), (mid- 100's(F)), and the dewpoint to the upper 20's. Carman, Manitobamarker, reached the extreme of 53.0 °C (127.4 °F) with the humidex, which set the highest temperature reached with the humidity in Canada.

Manitoba is also a very sunny province; according to Environment Canada, Manitoba ranked first for clearest skies year round. Manitoba also ranked second for most clear skies in the summer and sunniest province in the winter and spring. Portage la Prairiemarker has the most sunny days in warm months in Canada; and Winnipegmarker has the second clearest skies year-round and is the second sunniest city in Canada in the spring and winter. Southern Manitoba has a fairly long frost-free season, consisting of between 125 and 125 days in the Red River Valley; this decreases to the northeast.

The northern sections of the province (including the city of Thompsonmarker) falls in the subarctic climate zone (Koppen Dfc). This region features long and extremely cold winters with brief, warm summers with relatively little precipitation. It is common to have overnight lows as low as −40 °C (−40 °F) for several days each winter, and have a few weeks that remain below −18 °C (0 °F).

The southwestern corner (including the city of Brandonmarker) has a semi-arid mid-latitude steppe climate (Koppen climate classification BSk). The region is drier than other parts of southern Manitoba and very drought-prone. It is cold and windy in the winter and is the region most prone to blizzards in the winter because of the openness of the landscape. Summers are generally warm to hot, with low to moderate humidity.

Average temperature in cities
City July January
Winnipegmarker 26/13 °C (79/55 °F) -13/-24 °C (8.6/-11.2 °F)
Brandonmarker 27/12 °C (81/54 °F) -12/-24 °C (10.4/-11.2 °F)
Thompsonmarker 23/9 °C (73/48 °F) -20/-31 °C (-4/-23.8 °F)
Portage la Prairiemarker 26/14 °C (79/57 °F) -12/-22 °C (10.4/-7.6 °F)
Steinbachmarker 26/13 °C (79/55 °F) -13/-23 °C (8.6/-9.4 °F)
Dauphinmarker 25/12 °C (77/54 °F) -13/-24 °C (8.6/-9.4 °F)
The Pasmarker 23/12 °C (73/54 °F) -16/-27 °C (3.2/-16.6 °F)

The remainder of southern Manitoba (including the city of Winnipegmarker), falls into the humid continental climate zone (Koppen Dfb). Temperatures here are similar to the semi-arid climate zone, but this region is the most humid area in the Prairie Provinces with moderate precipitation.

Flora and fauna

The eastern, southeastern, and northern reaches of the province range through boreal coniferous forests, muskeg, Canadian Shield and a small section of tundra bordering Hudson Bay. Forests make up about , or 48%, of the province's land area. The forests generally consist of pines (mostly jack pine, some red pine), spruces (white, black), larch, poplars (trembling aspen, balsam poplar), birch (white, swamp) and small pockets of Eastern White Cedar. Some of the last largest and intact boreal forest of the world can be found along the east side of Lake Winnipeg, with only winter roads, no hydroelectric development, no mines, and few communities. The tall-grass prairie dominates the southern parts of the province, and is especially notable for its endangered Fringed Orchid.

Manitoba is home to diverse species of animals. The province is especially noted for its bear population; Churchill, in northern Manitoba, is commonly referred to as the "Polar Bear Capital". Other large animals, including moose, deer, and wolves, are common throughout the province, especially in the provincial and national parks. There is also a large population of garter snakes near Narcisse; the dens there are home to the largest concentration of snakes in the world.


First Nations

The geographical area now named Manitoba was inhabited shortly after the last ice age glaciers retreated in the southwest. The first exposed land was the Turtle Mountainmarker area, where large numbers of petroforms and medicine wheelsmarker can be found.

The first human habitants of southern Manitoba left behind pottery shards, spear and arrow heads, copper, petroforms, pictographs, fish and animal bones, and signs of agriculture along the Red Rivermarker near Lockport. Eventually aboriginal settlements of Ojibwa, Cree, Dene, Sioux, Mandan, and Assiniboine peoples were founded, along with other tribes that entered the area to trade. The Whiteshell Provincial Parkmarker region along the Winnipeg River has many old petroforms and may have been a trading centre. The cowry shells and copper found in this area are proof of a large trading network to the oceans, and to the larger southern native civilizations along the Mississippi River. In Northern Manitoba some areas were mined for quartz to make arrowheads. The first farming in Manitoba appeared to be along the Red River, near Lockport, where corn and other seed crops were planted before contact with Europeans.

There are a few possible sources for the name "Manitoba". The more likely is that it comes from Cree or Ojibwe and means "strait of the Manitou (spirit)". It may also be from the Assiniboine for "Lake of the Prairie".

Rupert's Land

In 1611, Henry Hudson was one of the first Europeans to sail into what is now known as Hudson Baymarker, where he was abandoned by his mutinous crew. In 1619, explorer Jens Munk in search of the Northwest Passage, wintered on the Churchill River. Most of his crew died and only three, including himself, made the return trip back in July of that year. The Nonsuch sailed into Hudson Bay in 1668–1669, becoming the first trading voyage to reach the area; it led to the formation of the Hudson's Bay Company. The Hudson's Bay Company was given the fur trading rights to the entire Hudson Bay watershed, covering land in what is now Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Minnesota, North Dakota, and more. This watershed was named Rupert's Land, after Prince Rupert, who helped to subsidize the Hudson's Bay Company. York Factorymarker was founded in 1684 after the original main fort of the Hudson's Bay Company, Fort Nelson—built in 1682—was destroyed by French traders. Other traders and explorers from Europe eventually came to the Hudson Bay shores and went south along the northern Manitoba rivers. The first European to reach present-day central and southern Manitoba was Sir Thomas Button, who travelled upstream along the Nelson Rivermarker and Lake Winnipegmarker in 1612 and may have reached somewhere along the edge of the prairies, where he reported seeing a bison. In 1690 to 1691, Henry Kelsey was the first European fur trader known to have seen the prairie grasslands, the great buffalo herds, the grizzly bears, and the Plains tribes. Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, Sieur de la Vérendrye, visited the Red River Valley in the 1730s to help open the area for French exploration and the fur trade. Other French and Métis explorers came from the east and south by going down the Winnipeg River and the Red River (an important French-Canadian population (Franco-Manitobains) still lives in Manitoba, especially in the Saint-Bonifacemarker district of Winnipeg). A French fur trading company called the North West Company began trading with the Métis. Fur trading forts were built by both the North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company, and there was often competition between the two in more southern areas until they amalgamated in 1821. The territory was won by Great Britainmarker in 1763 as part of the French and Indian War. The Hudson's Bay Archives is located in Winnipeg and preserves the rich history of the fur trading era that occurred along the major water routes of the Rupert's Land area.

The founding of the first agricultural community and settlements in 1812 by Lord Selkirk, north of the area which is now downtown Winnipeg, resulted in conflict between the British colonists and the Métis who lived and traded near there. Twenty colonists, including the governor, were killed by the Métis in the Battle of Seven Oaksmarker in 1816, in which the settlers fired the first shots. There was also one Métis man killed.


When Rupert's Land was ceded to Canada in 1869 and incorporated into the Northwest Territoriesmarker, a lack of attention to Métis concerns led their elected leader Louis Riel to establish a provisional government as part of the Red River Rebellion. Negotiations between the provisional and Canadian governments resulted in the creation of the Province of Manitoba and its entry into Confederation in 1870. However, Louis Riel was pursued by Garnet Wolseley because of the rebellion, and he fled into exile. The Métis were blocked by the Canadian government in their attempts to obtain land promised to them as part of Manitoba's entry into confederation. Facing racism from the new flood of white settlers from Ontario, large numbers of Métis moved to what would become Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Originally, the province of Manitoba was only 1/18 of its current size and was square in shape—it was known as the "postage stamp province". Its borders were expanded in 1881, but Ontario also claimed a large portion of the land; the disputed portion was awarded to Ontario in 1889. It grew progressively, absorbing land from the Northwest Territories until it attained its current size by reaching 60°N in 1912.

Initially, the subject of provincial status did not come up during the negotiations between Canada, the United Kingdom and the Hudson's Bay Company. It was assumed that territorial status was granted in the Act for the Temporary Government of Rupert's Land in 1869. Louis Riel first introduced the subject of provincial status to the Committee of Forty appointed by the citizens of Red River in 1870. Riel's proposal to Donald Alexander Smith, emissary for the government of Canada, was rejected by the government of John A. Macdonald. The list of demands from Riel did goad the government of Canada into acting on a proposal of its own regarding Red River's status. John A. Macdonald introduced the Manitoba Act in the Canadian House of Commons without raising the issue; the bill was given royal assent and Manitoba joined Canada as a province. Macdonald's misunderstanding of territorial versus provincial status, the rise of the Métis people and the burgeoning growth of the United States (which was considering annexing the territory) compelled him to act in a nation-building initiative.

Numbered Treaties were signed in the late 19th century with the chiefs of various First Nations that lived in the area. These treaties made quite specific promises of land for every family. This led to a reserve system under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government. There are still land claim issues because the proper amount of land promised to the native peoples was not always given.

The Manitoba Schools Question showed the deep divergence of cultural values in the territory. The Franco-Manitobains had been guaranteed a state-supported separate school system in the original constitution of Manitoba, but a grassroots political movement among Protestants in 1888-90 demanded the end of French schools. In 1890, the Manitoba legislature passed a law abolishing French as an official language of the province and removing funding for Catholic schools. The French Catholic minority asked the federal Government for support; however, the Orange Order and other anti-Catholic forces mobilized nationwide. The Conservatives proposed remedial legislation to override Manitoba's legislation, but they in turn were blocked by Liberals, led by Wilfrid Laurier, who opposed the remedial legislation on the basis of provincial rights. Once elected Prime Minister in 1896, Laurier proposed a compromise stating that Catholics in Manitoba could have Catholic teaching for 30 minutes at the end of the day if there were enough students to warrant it, on a school-by-school basis. Tensions over language remained high in Manitoba (and nationwide) for decades to come.

Early 20th century

Winnipeg was the third largest city in Canada by the early 20th century. A boomtown, it grew quickly around the turn of the century, with outside investors and immigrants contributing to its success. Old mansions and estates attest to Winnipeg's growing wealthy class during that period, as does the growth of the railway system at the time. When the Manitoba Legislature was built, it was expected that Manitoba would have a population of 3 million quite soon. Around the beginning of World War I, the quickly growing city began to cool down, as large amounts of money were no longer invested to the same degree as before the war. Winnipeg eventually fell behind in growth when other major cities in Canada began to boom.

Crowd gathered outside the old City Hall during the Winnipeg General Strike, June 21, 1919.
In the 1917 election in the midst of the conscription crisis, the Liberals were split in half and the new Union party carried all but one seat. As the war ended severe discontent among farmers (over wheat prices) and union members (over wage rates) resulted in an upsurge of radicalism. With Bolshevism coming to power in Russiamarker, conservatives were anxious and radicals were energized. The most dramatic episode was the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 which shut down most activity for six weeks. It began May 15 and continued until the strike collapsed on June 25, 1919; the workers were gradually returning to their jobs, and the Central Strike Committee decided to end the strike. Government efforts to violently crush the strike, including a charge into a crowd of strikers by the Royal Northwest Mounted Policemarker that resulted in 30 casualties and one death and the arrest of the strike leaders, contributed to this decision.

In the aftermath of the strike, eight leaders went on trial, and most were convicted on charges of seditious conspiracy, illegal combinations, and seditious libel; four were aliens who were deported under the Canadian Immigration Act. Labor was weakened and divided as a result.

Farmers, meanwhile, were patiently organizing the United Farmers of Manitoba, with plans to contest the 1920 provincial elections. The result was that no party held a majority. The Farmers won in 1922, with 30 seats, against 7 returning Liberals, 6 Conservatives, 6 Labour, and 8 Independents.

The Great Depression hit especially hard in Western Canada, including Manitoba. The collapse of the world market combined with a steep drop in agricultural production due to drought led to economic diversification, moving away from wheat production. The Manitoba Co-operative Commonwealth Federation was founded in 1932, the forerunner to the New Democratic Party of Manitoba (NDP).

Winnipeg was one of the major commands for the British Commonwealth Air Training Program to train fighter pilots for World War II, and there were air training schools throughout Manitoba. Several Manitoba-based regiments were deployed overseas, including Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. In an effort to raise money for the war effort, the Victory Loan campaign organized "If Day" in 1942. The event featured a simulated Nazi invasion and occupation of Manitoba, and eventually raised over $65 million for the war effort.

1950 to present

Control gates at the inlet to the Floodway
The 1950 Red River Flood was a devastating flood that took place along the Red Rivermarker during the spring of 1950. Winnipegmarker was inundated on May 5, also known as Black Friday, and had to be partially evacuated. In that year, the Red River reached its highest level since 1861 and flooded most of the Red River Valley. The damage caused by the flood eventually led Duff Roblin to advocate for the construction of the Red River Floodwaymarker. The province of Manitoba completed the Red River Floodwaymarker in 1968 after six years of excavation, put up permanent dikes in eight towns south of Winnipegmarker, and built clay dikes and diversion dams in the Winnipeg area. In 1997, the "Flood of the Century" caused over $500 million in damages in Manitoba, but the Floodway prevented Winnipeg from flooding.

Since 1969, the NDP has been the most successful provincial political party, winning seven of the eleven elections during this period. In 1990, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney attempted to pass the Meech Lake Accord to persuade Quebecmarker to endorse the Canada Act. Unanimous support was needed to bypass the necessary public consultation in the Manitoba Legislature, and MLA Elijah Harper opposed bypassing consultation because he did not believe First Nations had been adequately involved in the Accord's process.


Manitoba has a population of 1,213,815, more than half of which is located within the Winnipeg Capital Region (which has a total population of 730,305). Winnipeg is Canada's eighth-largest Census Metropolitan Area. Manitoba is the only Canadian Province with over 55% of its population located in a single city.

Population of Manitoba since 1871
Year Population Five Year

% change
Ten Year

% change
Rank Among

1871 25,228 n/a n/a 8
1881 62,260 n/a 146.8 6
1891 152,506 n/a 145 5
1901 255,211 n/a 67.3 5
1911 461,394 n/a 80.8 5
1921 610,118 n/a 32.2 4
1931 700,139 n/a 14.8 5
1941 729,744 n/a 4.2 6
1951 776,541 n/a 6.4 6
1956 850,040 9.5 n/a 6
1961 921,686 8.4 18.7 6
1966 963,066 4.5 13.3 5
1971 988,245 2.3 7.2 5
1976 1,021,505 3.4 6.1 5
1981 1,026,241 0.4 3.8 5
1986 1,063,015 3.6 4.1 5
1991 1,091,942 2.7 6.4 5
1996 1,113,898 2.0 4.8 5
2001 1,119,583 0.5 2.5 5
2006* 1,177,765 5.2 5.7 5
*Preliminary 2006 census estimate.

Source: Statistics Canada

According to the 2006 Canadian census, the largest ethnic group in Manitoba is English (22.1%), followed by German (19.1%), Scottish (18.5%), Ukrainian (14.7%), Irish (13.4%), North American Indian (10.6%), Polish (7.3%), Métis (6.4%), French (5.6%),Dutch (4.9%), and Russian (4.0%)—although almost one-fifth of respondents also identified their ethnicity as "Canadian". There are a number of ethnic enclaves throughout the province, where one ethnicity is predominant. Examples of these would include Gimlimarker (Icelandic) and St. Boniface in Winnipegmarker (Franco-Manitobains). There is also a significant aboriginal community: aboriginals are Manitoba's fastest-growing ethnic group, representing 13.6% of Manitoba's population as of 2001.

Ten largest municipalities by population

City 2001 2006
Winnipegmarker 626,956
|  675,483
|  46,273
Thompsonmarker 13,256 13,446
Portage la Prairiemarker 13,019 12,773
Steinbachmarker 9,227 11,066
Selkirkmarker 9,772 9,553
Winklermarker 7,943 9,106
Dauphinmarker 8,085 7,906
Mordenmarker 6,159 6,547
The Pasmarker 6,030 5,765

Most Manitobans belong to a Christian denomination: on the 2001 census, 758,760 Manitobans (68.7%) reported being Christian, followed by 13,040 (1.2%) Jewish, 5,745 (0.5%) Buddhist, 5,485 (0.5%) Sikh, 5,095 (0.5%) Muslim, 3,840 (0.3%) Hindu, 3,415 (0.3%) Aboriginal spirituality and 995 (0.1%) pagan. 201,825 Manitobans (18.3%) reported no religious affiliation in the 2001 census.

The largest Christian denominations by number of adherents were the Roman Catholic Church with 292,970 (27%); the United Church of Canada with 176,820 (16%); and the Anglican Church of Canada with 85,890 (8%).

Although initial colonization of the province revolved mostly around homesteading, the last 100 years have seen a shift towards urbanization; the majority of Manitoba's population now lives in cities.


Transportation and warehousing contributes approximately $2.2 billion to Manitoba’s GDP. Total employment in the industry is estimated at 34,500.Manitoba has a rail, air, road and marine component to its transportation industry.

The Trans-Canada Highway built between 1950 and 1971 crosses the province from east to west. Trucks haul 95% of land freight in Manitoba, and trucking companies account for 80% of Manitoba's merchandise trade to the United States. Five of Canada's twenty-five largest employers in for-hire trucking are headquartered in Manitoba, and three of Canada's 10 largest employers in the for-hire trucking industry are headquartered in Winnipeg. $1.18 billion of Manitoba's GDP directly or indirectly comes from trucking. Around 5% or 33,000 people work in the trucking industry.

Domestic and international bus service from the Winnipeg Bus Terminal is offered by Greyhound Canada and Jefferson Lines. Winnipeg and other municipalities offer transit bus service within city limits.

Manitoba has two Class I railways: CN and Canadian Pacific Railway. Winnipeg is centrally located on the main lines of both carriers, and both companies maintain large intermodal terminals in the city. CN and CP operate a combined of track within Manitoba. VIA Rail offers transcontenial and northern Manitoba passenger service from Winnipeg's Union Stationmarker. The first railway through Manitoba was the CP Railway, and the tracks were diverted south to make Winnipeg as the capital and centre, and not Selkirk, which is located further north. Numerous small regional and shortline railways exist in the province. They are the Hudson Bay Railway, the Southern Manitoba Railway, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Manitoba, Greater Winnipeg Water District Railway, and Central Manitoba Railway. Together, they operate approximately of track within the province.

Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airportmarker is one of only a few 24-hour unrestricted airports in Canada and is part of the National Airports System. It has a broad range of passenger and cargo services and served over 3.5 million people in 2007, which is over the maxium capacity of 600,000 the current terminal was to handle. The airport handles approximately of cargo annually which makes it the 3rd largest in the country. Currently the airport is going under major redevelopment, with a new terminal, parkade, and luxury hotel. The new bus terminal and Canada Post plant which are moving from downtown will be located at the airport campus.

Eleven regional passenger carriers and nine smaller/charter carriers operate out of the airport, as well as 11 air cargo carriers and 7 freight forwarders. Winnipeg is a major sorting facility for both FedEx and Purolator, and receives daily transborder service from UPSmarker. Air Canada Cargo and Cargojet Airways use the airport as a major hub for national traffic.

The Port of Churchillmarker, owned by OmniTRAX, is Canada's main window to the Arctic ocean, to Russia, and inland to China. The port of Churchill is nautically closer to ports in Northern Europe and Russia than any other port in Canada. The port is the only Arctic deep water port in Canada and a part of the closest shipping route between North America and Asia. It has 4 deep-sea berths for the loading and unloading of grain, general cargo and tanker vessels. The port is linked by the Hudson Bay Railway (also owned by OMNITRAX). Grain represented 90% of the port’s traffic in the 2004 shipping season. In that year, over of agricultural product was shipped through the port.


Manitoba's economy grew 2.4% in 2008, the third consecutive year of growth. The average individual income in Manitoba in 2006 was $25,100, compared to a national average of $26,500 and ranking fifth-highest among the provinces. As of October 2009, Manitoba's unemployment rate is 5.8%.

Manitoba's economy relies heavily on tourism, energy, agriculture, oil, minerals, mining, and forestry. Agriculture is vital to Manitoba's economy and is found mostly in the southern half of the province, although there is grain farming found as far north as The Pasmarker. The most common type of farm found in rural areas is cattle farming (34.6%), followed by other grains (19.0%) and oilseed (7.9%). Manitoba is the nation's largest producer of sunflower seed and dry beans; and one of the leading potato producers. Altonamarker is the "sunflower capital of Canada". Around 12% of Canadian farmland is in Manitoba.

Portage la Prairiemarker claims to be the Canadian potato producing capital, and is a major potato processing center. It is also home to the McCain Foods and Simplot potato processing plants, which provide french fries for McDonald's, Wendy's, and various other commercialized restaurant chains. Can-Oat Milling, one of the largest oat mills in the world, is also located in the municipality. Churchillmarker's arctic wildlife plays an important part in Manitoba's tourism industry, having acquired the nicknames of "Polar bear capital of the world" and "Beluga capital of the world". Manitoba is the only Canadian Province with an Arctic deep water sea port, located in Churchillmarker, along Hudson Baymarker. Manitoba's sea port is the only link along the shortest shipping route between North America, Europe, and Asia.

Economic history

Red River cart train
Manitoba's early economy depended on mobility and living off of the land. Aboriginal Nations (including the Cree, Ojibwa, Dene, Sioux and Assiniboine) followed herds of bison and congregated to trade among themselves at key meeting places throughout the province. The first fur traders entered the province in the 17th century; most of the economy centred around the trade of beaver pelts and other furs. .

The first major diversification of the economy came when Lord Selkirk brought the first agricultural settlers to the area just north of present-day Winnipeg in 1811. The eventual triumph of the Hudson's Bay Company over its competitors ensured the primacy of the fur trade over widespread agricultural colonization. It took years for the Red River Colony to develop under HBC rule, as the Company invested little in infrastructure for the community. It was only when independent traders such as James Sinclair and Andrew McDermot (Dermott) started competing in trade that improvements to the community began. In 1849, a Métis fur trader named Pierre Guillaume Sayer was charged with illegal trading by the Hudson's Bay Company; though he was found guilty, he was not punished. The result was a weakening of HBC rule over the region and laid the foundations of provincehood for Manitoba. In 1853, a second agricultural community started in Portage la Prairiemarker.

HBC control of Rupert's Land ended in 1868, and Manitoba became a province in 1870. All land in the province became the property of the federal government, with homesteads granted to settlers for farming. Transcontinental railways were constructed to simplify trade. Manitoba's economy depended mainly on wheat farming, which persisted until drought and the Great Depression led to diversification.


Like all Canadian provinces, Manitoba is governed by a unicameral legislature, the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba. The executive branch is formed by the majority party; the party leader is the Premier of Manitoba, the head of the executive branch. The head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, is represented by the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, who is appointed by the Governor General of Canada on advice of the Prime Minister. The head of state is primarily a ceremonial role, although the Lieutenant-Governor has the official responsibility of ensuring that Manitoba always has a duly constituted government. Manitoba is represented in federal politics by 14 Members of Parliament and six Senators.

The Legislative Assembly of Manitoba was established on July 14, 1870. After the control of Rupert's Land was passed from Great Britain to the Government of Canada in 1869, Manitoba attained full fledged rights and responsibilities of self-government as the first Canadian province carved out of the Northwest Territories. The Legislative Assembly consists of the 57 Members elected to represent the people of Manitoba. The horseshoe arrangement of the members seats within the Chamber is unique in Canada. Manitoba's primary political parties are the New Democratic Party of Manitoba (NDP), the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba and the Manitoba Liberal Party.

The current premier of Manitoba is Greg Selinger of the NDP, who replaced Gary Doer to lead the NDP majority government of 36 seats. The Progressive Conservative Party holds 19 seats, and the Liberal Party has 2 seats but does not have official party status in the Manitoba Legislature. The last general election was held Tuesday, May 22, 2007. Historically, political parties first appeared between 1878 and 1883, with a two-party system (Liberals and Conservatives). The United Farmers of Manitoba appeared in 1922, and later merged with the Liberals in 1932 to form the dominant political party. Other parties, including the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), appeared during the Great Depression; in the 1950s, Manitoban politics became a three-party system, and the LIberal party gradually declined in power. The CCF became the NDP, which came to power in 1969. Since then, the Conservatives and the NDP have been the dominant parties.

Manitoba's judiciary consists of three courts: the Court of Appeal, the Court of Queen's Bench, and the Provincial Court. The Provincial Court is primarily a criminal court; 95% of all criminal cases in Manitoba are heard in this court. The Court of Queen's Bench is the highest trial court in Manitoba. It has four jurisdictions: family law (child and family services] cases), civil law, criminal law (for indictable offences), and appeals for Provincial Court decisions. The Court of Appeal hears appeals from both the Court of Queen's Bench and the Provincial Court; decisions of this court can only be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canadamarker.

Official languages

English and French are the official languages of the legislature and courts of Manitoba, according to the Manitoba Act, 1870 (which forms part of the Constitution of Canada). In April 1890, the Manitoba legislature introduced a measure to abolish the official status of the French language in the legislature, in the laws, in records and journals, and in the Courts of Manitoba. The Manitoban Legislature ceased to publish legislation in French but did so in English only. However, in 1985 the Supreme Court of Canadamarker ruled in the Reference re Manitoba Language Rights that §23 still applied, and that legislation published only in English was invalid (unilingual legislation was declared valid for a temporary period to allow time for translation).

Although French is an official language for the purposes of the legislature, legislation, and the courts, the Manitoba Act does not require it to be an official language for the purpose of the executive branch (except when performing legislative or judicial functions). Hence, Manitoba's government is not completely bilingual, and as reflected in the Canadian Constitution Act, 1982, the only completely bilingual province is New Brunswickmarker. The Manitoba French Language Services Policy of 1999 is intended to provide a comparable level of provincial government services in both official languages. Services to the public are accessible in both English and French.


The first school in Manitoba was founded in 1818 on the banks of the Red River. Roman Catholic missionaries began constructing Catholic schools in the region. The first Protestant school was established in 1820. The Manitoba Schools Question led to funding for French Catholic schools largely being withddrawn. The provincial Department of Education was established in 1871; it was responsible for public schools and curriculum.

Today, public schools in Manitoba fall under the jurisdiction of one of 37 school divisions within the provincial education system (except for the Manitoba Band Operated Schools, which are administered by the federal government). Schooling is mandatory for children between the ages of 7 and 16 years; students are allowed to attend school between the ages of 6 and 21. All public schools follow a provincially-mandated curriculum in either French or English. There are 65 funded independent schools in Manitoba, of which three are boarding schools. These schools are required to follow the Manitoban curriculum and meet other provincial requirements. Additionally, there are 44 non-funded independent schools that are not required to meet these criteria.

There are five universities in Manitoba, which are under the responsibility of the Ministry of Advanced Education and Literacy. Four of these universities—the University of Manitobamarker, the Collège universitaire de Saint-Bonifacemarker, the Canadian Mennonite Universitymarker and the University of Winnipegmarker—are in Winnipegmarker. The Collège universitaire de Saint-Bonifacemarker, established in 1818, is the oldest university in the province and is the only French-language university in the province, and Brandon Universitymarker, formed in 1899 and located in Brandon, Manitobamarker, is the newest.

Manitoba also has 38 public libraries; of these, 12 have significant French-language collections and 8 have significant collections in other languages. Twenty-one of these are part of the Winnipeg Public Library system. The first lending library in Manitoba was founded in 1848.


Manitoba has three professional sports teams: the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (Canadian Football League), the Manitoba Moose (American Hockey League), and the Winnipeg Goldeyes (Northern League). At one time, the province had a National Hockey League team (the Winnipeg Jets), but the team moved to Phoenix, Arizonamarker due to financial troubles and are now the Phoenix Coyotes. The Western Hockey League's Wheat Kings are based in Brandonmarker.

There was also previously two basketball teams, the Winnipeg Thunder (National Basketball League) and the Winnipeg Cyclone (International Basketball Association), but both teams are now defunct. There were two baseball teams in the previous incarnations of the Northern League and the International League. The Winnipeg Maroons and the Winnipeg Whips played in each league respectively.

The province is represented in university athletics by the University of Manitobamarker Bisons, the University of Winnipegmarker Wesmen, and the Brandon Universitymarker Bobcats. All three teams compete in the Canada West Universities Athletic Association (the regional division of Canadian Interuniversity Sport).


Manitoba's culture has been influenced by both traditional (aboriginal and Métis) and modern Canadian artistic values, as well as some aspects of the cultures of immigrant populations and its Americanmarker neighbours. In Manitoba, the Minister of Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport is the cabinet minister responsible for promoting and, to some extent, financing Manitoban culture. Most of Manitoba's cultural activities take place in Winnipeg.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB), based in Winnipeg, is Canada's oldest ballet company and the longest continuously operating ballet company in North America. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet was granted its royal title in 1953, the first granted under Queen Elizabeth II. Manitoba is also known for the Red River Jig, a combination of aboriginal pow-wows and European reels that was popular among early settlers. Manitoba's traditional music also has strong roots in Métis and Aboriginal culture. Manitoba is a center for the old-time fiddling of the Métis people. The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO) performs at the Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg, and the orchestra also performs throughout the province of Manitoba.

Manitoba also has many prominent popular musicians and music groups. The Canadian 1960s supergroup The Guess Who became the first Canadian band to have a No. 1 hit in the United States. Former Guess Who guitarist Randy Bachman later created Bachman-Turner Overdrive (BTO). Rocker Neil Young played with Stephen Stills in the band Buffalo Springfield, and again with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.Soft-rock band Crash Test Dummies formed in the late 1980s in Winnipeg and were the 1992 Juno Awards Group of the Year. Other Manitoban pop artists include Chantal Kreviazuk, Remy Shand, and Propagandhi.

Manitoba's largest art gallery, the Winnipeg Art Gallerymarker (WAG) was Canadamarker's first civic gallery and is the sixth-largest in the country. The WAG's permanent collection includes over 20,000 works, with a particular emphasis on Manitoban and Canadianmarker art. Most of Manitoba's theatre groups are also based in Winnipeg. Le Cercle Molière (founded 1925) is the oldest theatre in Canada. Manitoba Theatre Centre (MTC, founded 1958) is Canada's oldest English-language regional theatre. Manitoba Theatre for Young People was the first English-language theatre to win the Canadian Institute of the Arts for Young Audiences Award, and offers plays for children and teenagers as well as a theatre school.

Several prominent Canadian films were produced in Manitoba, including The Stone Angel, based on the Margaret Laurence book of the same title, The Saddest Music in the World, For Angela, and My Winnipeg. Guy Maddin, OM, the creator of My Winnipeg, is a prominent Manitoban screenwriter and film director. Animator Cordell Barker's most notable short is The Cat Came Back (1988), which received an Oscar nomination. Manitoban Richard Condie was nominated for an Oscar and won the Genie Award for Best Animated Short with his 1985 work The Big Snit. Several major films were filmed in Manitoba, including The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Capote, both of which received Academy Award nominations. Falcon Beach, an internationally-broadcast television drama, was filmed at Winnipeg Beach, Manitobamarker. Manitoba has appeared in popular American television shows, including in an episode of The Simpsons where Homer visited Winnipeg.

Manitoba has a strong literary tradition. Bertram Brooker won the first-ever Governor General's Award for Fiction in 1936. Cartoonist Lynn Johnston, author of the comic strip For Better or For Worse, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and inducted into the Canadian Cartoonist Hall of Fame. Margaret Laurence's The Jest of God was set in Manawaka, a fictional town representing Neepawa, and won the Governor General's Award in 1966. Carol Shields won both the Governor General's Award and the Pulitzer Prize for The Stone Diaries. Gabrielle Roy, a Franco-Manitoban writer born in Saint Boniface, Manitobamarker, won the Governor General's Award three times. A quote from her writings is featured on the Canadian $20 bill.

Folklorama 2005, Scottish Pavilion
Cultural festivals take place throughout the province, with the largest festivals centred in Winnipeg. The Festival du Voyageur is an annual 10-day winter festival held in Winnipeg's French Quarter, Saint-Bonifacemarker, and is Western Canada's largest winter festival. The event celebrates Canada's fur-trading past and French heritage and culture. Folklorama, a cultural festival run by the Folk Arts Council, receives around 400,000 pavilion visits each year. The Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival is an annual alternative theatre festival, currently the second-largest North American festival of its kind (after the Edmonton International Fringe Festival).

There are also a diverse array of museums documenting different aspects of Manitoban heritage. The Manitoba Museummarker is the largest museum in Manitoba and focuses on Manitoban history from prehistory to the 1920s. The full-size replica ship Nonsuch is the museum's showcase piece. The Manitoba Children's Museum at the The Forksmarker presents exhibits for children. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights will upon completion be the first Canadian national museum outside of the National Capital Regionmarker. There are two museums dedicated to the native flora and fauna of Manitoba: the Living Prairie Museum, a tall grass prairie preserve featuring 160 species of grasses and wildflowers, and FortWhyte Alive, a park encompassing prairie, lake, forest and wetland habitats, home to a large herd of bison. The Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre houses the largest collection of marine reptile fossils in Canada. Reflecting the importance of transportation in the development of the province, Manitoba has museums featuring the history of aviation, marine transportmarker, and railwaysmarker in the area.


Winnipeg has two daily newspapers: the Winnipeg Free Press and the Winnipeg Sun. There are several ethnic weekly newspapers, as well as regionally- and nationally-based magazines based in the city. Brandon has two regular local newspapers: the Brandon Sun and the Wheat City Journal. Many small towns have local newspapers, and some also receive deliveries of Brandon or Winnipeg papers.

There are five English language stations and one French language station based in Winnipeg. The Global Television Network (owned by Canwest) is headquartered in the city. Most small towns are served by rebroadcasts of Winnipeg or Brandon television stations, sometimes with the addition of local programming.

Winnipeg is home to 21 AM and FM radio stations, two of which are French-language stations. Brandon's five local radio stations are provided by Astral Media and Westman Communications Group. In addition to the Brandon and Winnipeg stations, radio service is provided in rural areas and smaller towns by Golden West Broadcasting and Corus Entertainment, as well as a few local broadcasters. CBC Radio broadcasts local and national programming throughout the province. NCI is devoted to Aboriginal programming and broadcasts to many of the isolated native communities as well as to larger cities.

Armed forces

Canadian Forces Base Winnipeg (CFB Winnipeg) is a Canadian Forces Base in Winnipeg co-located at the Winnipeg International Airport. CFB Winnipeg is home to flight operations support divisions, as well as several training schools. It is also the 1 Canadian Air Division/Canadian NORADmarker Region Headquarters. The base is supported by over 3,000 military personnel and civilian employees.

The Royal Winnipeg Rifles and The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada are infantry reserve units based at Minto Armouries in Winnipeg. The Fort Garry Horse is an armoured reconnaissance and field engineer reserve unit based at McGregor Armoury in Winnipeg.

17 Wing of the Canadian Forces is based in Winnipeg near the airport. The Wing has three squadrons and six schools. The Wing also supports 113 units from Thunder Baymarker to the Saskatchewanmarker/Albertamarker border, and from the 49th Parallel to the high Arctic. 17 Wing acts as a deployed operating base for CF-18 Hornet fighter-bombers assigned to the Canadian NORADmarker Region.

The two Air Force squadrons based in the city are: the 402 ("City of Winnipeg" Squadron"), which flies the Canadian designed and produced de Havilland Canada CT-142 Dash 8 navigation trainer in support of the Canadian Forces Air Navigation School’s Air Navigators and Airborne Electronic Sensor Operator training programs; and the 435 (“Chinthe” Transport and Rescue Squadron), which flies the Lockheed CC-130 Hercules tanker/transport in airlift search and rescue roles. In addition, 435 Squadron is the only Air Force squadron equipped and trained to conduct air-to-air refueling of fighter aircraft.

For years, Winnipeg was the home of the Second Battalion of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (2 PPCLI). Initially, the battalion was based at the Fort Osborne Barracks near present-day Osborne Village. They eventually moved to the Kapyong Barracks located in the River Heights/Tuxedo neighbourhood of Winnipeg. Since 2004, the 550 men and women of the battalion have operated out of Canadian Forces Base Shilo (CFB Shilo).

CFB Shilo is an Operations and Training base of the Canadian Forces located east of Brandon, Manitobamarker. During the 1990s, Canadian Forces Base Shilo was also designated as an Area Support Unit, acting as a local base of operations for south-west Manitoba in times of military and civil emergency. CFB Shilo is the home of the 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery , the 2nd Battalion of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (2PPCLI)—both battalions of the 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group—as well as being the Home Station of the Royal Canadian Artillery. In addition, CFB Shilo lodges training units such as the Western Area Training Centre Detachment Shilo and the Communications Reserve School. It also serves as a base for support units of Land Force Western Area, including 731 Signals Squadron.

See also


  1. Notes on the Geology of Some Islands in Lake Winnipeg. J. Hoyes Panton. MHS Transactions Series 1, No. 20. Read 25 January 1886
  2. Trigger, Bruce G. The Cambridge History of the native peoples of the Americas. Cambridge University Press, 1996.
  3. Catherine Flynn, Parks Canada and E. Leigh Syms, Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature. Manitoba's First Farmers. Manitoba History, Number 31, Spring 1996
  4. Henry Hudson, Dictionary of Canadian Biography I, 374-79.
  5. Jens Munck, Dictionary of Canadian Biography I, 514-15.
  6. Laird Rankin, The Return Nonsuch: The Ship that Launched an Empire
  7. York Factory National Historic Site. Lillian Stewart, Manitoba Northern Historic Sites, Canadian Parks Service. Manitoba History, Number 15, Spring 1988
  8. Thomas Button, Dictionary of Canadian Biography I, 144-45.
  9. Henry Kelsey, Dictionary of Canadian Biography II, 307-15.
  10. Pierre Gaultier De Varennes La Vérendrye, Dictionary of Canadian Biography III, 246-54.
  11. Thomas Douglas, Dictionary of Canadian Biography V, 264-69.
  12. The 150th Anniversary of Seven Oaks. Joseph E. Martin. MHS Transactions Series 3, Number 22, 1965-66 season
  13. Manitoba: the birth of a province. W. L. Morton (ed). Winnipeg: Manitoba Record Society, 1984
  14. Garnet Joseph Wolseley, Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
  15. The Historiography of Métis Land Dispersal, 1870–1890. Brad Milne. Manitoba History, Number 30, Autumn 1995
  16. From Postage Stamp to Keystone. Douglas Kemp. Manitoba Pageant, April 1956
  17. The Story of the Manitoba Legislature. M. S. Donnelly. MHS Transactions Series 3, Number 12, 1955-56 season
  18. The Language Problem in Manitoba's Schools. Robert Fletcher. MHS Transactions Series 3, Number 6, 1949-50
  19. McLauchlin, Kenneth. “Riding The Protestant Horse”: The Manitoba School Question and Canadian Politics, 1890–1896. CCHA, Historical Studies, 53 (1986) 39-52
  20. Francis, Daniel (1984), "1919: The Winnipeg General Strike", History Today 38: 4-8.
  21. Dwayne Winseck. A Social History of Canadian Telecommunications. Canadian Journal of Communication, Vol 20, No 2 (1995)
  22. February 19, 1942: If Day. Michael Newman. Manitoba History, Number 13, Spring 1987
  23. Comeau, Pauline. “The Man Who Said No (Elijah Harper),” The Canadian Forum (July/August 1990): 7-11.
  24. Rails Across the Red - Selkirk or Winnipeg. Ruben C. Bellan. MHS Transactions, Series 3, 1961-62 Season
  25. Member Statements. Manitoba Hansard, 4th-36th Vol. 33. Nov 1997. The new plant was constructed in 2003 by JR Simplot.
  26. Lord Selkirk Settlers. William L. Morton. Manitoba Pageant, April 1962, Volume 7, Number 3
  27. The Lord Selkirk Settlement at Red River, Part 3. Anne Matheson Henderson. Manitoba Pageant, Spring 1968, Volume 13, Number 3
  28. Andrew McDermot, Dictionary of Canadian Biography XI, 545-46.
  29. Pierre Guillaume Sayer, Dictionary of Canadian Biography VII, 776-77.
  30. Mary Liston. Administrative Law in Context, ch4.'Manitoba'.doc
  31. In [1992] 1 S.C.R. 221-222 [1], the Supreme Court rejected the contentions of the Société franco-manitobaine that §23 extends to executive functions of the executive branch.
  32. Foundations of Dual Education at Red River, 1811-34. Dr. C. J. Jaenen. MHS Transactions Series 3, 1964-65 season
  33. “Winnipeg Public Library: A Capsule History.” Winnipeg Public Library, 1988.
  34. Beck, Jerry. The 50 Greatest Cartoons: As Selected by 1,000 Animation Professionals. Atlanta: Turner Publishing, 1994. ISBN 1-878685-49-X]

Further reading

  • Carr, Ian and Robert E. Beamish. Manitoba Medicine: A Brief History (ISBN 0-88755-660-4) (1999)
  • Clark, Lovell. ed The Manitoba School Question: majority rule or minority rights? (1968) historians debate the issue
  • Chafe, J. W. Extraordinary Tales from Manitoba History (1973)
  • Cook, Ramsay. The Politics of John W. Dafoe and the Free Press (1963)
  • Dafoe, John W. Clifford Sifton in Relation to His Times (1931)
  • Donnelly, M. S. The Government of Manitoba (1963)
  • Ellis, J.H. The Ministry of Agriculture in Manitoba, 1870–1970 (1971)
  • Ewanchuk, Michael. Pioneer Profiles: Ukrainian Settlers in Manitoba (1981) (ISBN 0-9690768-4-3)
  • Raymond M. Hébert. Manitoba's French-Language Crisis: A Cautionary Tale McGill-Queen's University Press (2004) ISBN 0-7735-2790-7
  • Hanlon, Christine; Edie, Barbara; Pendgracs, Doreen. Manitoba Book of Everything (2008) (ISBN 978-0-9784784-5-2)
  • Kinnear, Mary, ed. 1st Days, Fighting Days: Women in Manitoba History (1987)
  • Friesen, Gerald, and Potyondi, Barry. A Guide to the Study of Manitoba Local History (1981)
  • Petryshyn, Jaroslav. Peasants in the Promised Land: Canada and the Ukrainians, 1891–1914 (1985)
  • Whitcomb, Ed. A Short History of Manitoba (1982) (ISBN 0-920002-15-3)
  • Yuzyk, Paul. The Ukrainians in Manitoba: A Social History (1953)

External links

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