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Thompson is a city in northern Manitobamarker. As the "Hub of the North" it serves as the regional trade and service centre of northern Manitoba. Thompson is located north of the Canada – United States border, north of the provincial capital of Winnipegmarker, and is Northeast of Flin Flonmarker. It is the third largest city in the province with a population of over 13,256 residents, which also serves as a trade centre for an additional 36,000 - 65,000 Manitobans. As such, it has all of the services and amenities that would be expected in a much larger, urban centre.


The modern history of Thompson began in 1956 when on February 4, a major ore body was discovered by use of an airborne electromagnetometer following ten years of mining exploration in the region. The community was founded in 1957 following an agreement with the Government of Manitoba and Inco Limited. Thompson is planned community and is named after Inco's chairman, John F. Thompson. The population has been estimated as high as 26,000 residents prior to the recession in the 1970s. The 1957 agreement required that Inco provide financial assistance towards the Kelsey Generating System, and a spur line to connect the community with C.N's Bay Line near Thicket Portage. Thompson was incorporated as a town in 1967 on Canada's Centennial Anniversary, and in 1970 as a city in the royal presence of Queen Elizabeth II, having reached a population of 20,000. A decline in population occurred during the following decades, levelling off around 14,000 people. Thompson came to be known as "The Hub of the North", as it functions as a centre for politics and commerce in the region.


Its most prominent local industry is the mining, milling, smelting and refining of nickel, with additional nickel concentrates coming from Voisey's Baymarker, Labrador.

Aside from Vale Inco Ltd; Manitoba Hydro, Calm Air, MTS and the provincial government employ the majority of the people in Thompson. A large portion are teachers and entrepreneurs as well.

Many federal and provincial government agencies have offices in Thompson. Thompson has a large retail sector, providing such things as clothing for all ages, a pet store, jewelry stores, travel agencies, vehicle dealerships, and grocery stores. Calm Air Airlines provides direct service between Winnipeg and Thompson. There has been intermittent jet service to Thompson, with the runway at the Thompson Airport able to accommodate a Boeing 737. No carrier has been able to supply long term jet service with both West Jet and Kanata, Ontario's First Air being unsuccessful at long term operations.

The construction of the 200 megawatt Wuskwatim hydro project southwest of Thompson will be important for the local economy. Construction of the access road to Wuskwatim began in 2006, and construction of the hydro dam will likely begin in 2009.

Thompson Transit is the public transit service operated for the city by Grey Goose Bus Lines.

A recent economic boom in the community has resulted in a shortage of affordable housing. Contributing to the economy are Vale Inco nickel mines and the Wuskwatim Hydro project.

Cold Weather Testing

Due to Thompson's unique location and subarctic climate, the city has earned a reputation for its cold weather testing conditions. Automobile manufacturers such as Chrysler, Ford, and Hummer have tested their vehicles in the winter months in Thompson. In April 2009, the National Research Council of Canadamarker announced that they will be partnering with the newly created Environmental Test Research and Education Center (CanETREC) to create a year round research facility which will specialize in testing aerospace designs in cold conditions.



The School District of Mystery Lake operates six elementary schools (Deerwood, Burntwood, Westwood, Riverside, Juniper, and Wapanohk [formerly Eastwood]), and one high school, R.D. Parker Collegiate.

The district offers a K-12 French immersion program at École Riverside School, and a K-8 education in the Cree language. This immersion program begins at Wapanohk (formerly Eastwood) Community School. Students can continue the French program at the high school if they completed K-8 at Riverside, and there are basic Cree courses in grades 9-12 offered as well. R.D. Parker Collegiate also offeres grade 10 and 11 courses in Native Studies and a grade 12 Native Law course. Full Cree-medium education does not, however, extend to the high school yet.

Although there is some demand for a private school , Thompson is not home to any at this time.

Thompson is home to one of the two main campuses of the University College of the Northmarker, as well as the University of Manitobamarker's Faculty of Social Work branch in the region.



Thompson is a major retail service centre for the Northern Manitoba region. The city has two fully enclosed shoppping centres, Thompson Plaza and the City Centre Mall. In the 1980s, both malls were fully rented and attracted well-known chains however, more recently they have had difficulty operating fully rented.

Spirit Way

Several Spirit Way wolves, downtown Thompson.
In 2008, Thompson debuted the Spirit Way, a two kilometre walking and biking pathway with 16 points of interest that highlight Thompson’s art, heritage, culture, industry, geology, and scenery; two more points are planned. The pathway includes a large wolf mural painted by Charles Johnston, and is a reproduction of Robert Bateman's painting "Wolf Sketch" (1990). The 86 ft x 62 ft image is the largest photo-real mural in Canada, and sits on the 10 storey Highland Tower apartment block. The building was chosen as it is the most prominent building on Thompson's skyline. The project also includes the Spirit Way wolves, wolf statues painted by various sponsors and placed throughout the walk.

Natural Attractions

Located approximately 42 kilometers south of Paint Lake is Pisew Falls Provincial Park. These are Manitoba’s second largest water falls. There is a 0.5 kilometer trail that leads to a viewing platform, perfect for taking pictures of the 13 meter high, year round falls. There is also a suspension bridge that spans the lower falls. This is the starting point of a seven-mile hike that leads to the highest waterfalls in Manitoba- Kwasitchewan Falls. This trail is a difficult back-country trail, recommended for experienced hikers only.

Located 32 kilometers south of Thompson on Highway 6 is Paint Lake Provincial Park. The park spans over 56,000 acres of Precambrian boreal forest and the lake itself is 5 miles wide and 25 miles long. With its numerous islands, enticing waters and rugged forests, Paint Lake offers 76 campsites and has the largest marina in Manitoba. The marina offers fishing guides, cabin, boat and canoe rentals, a restaurant and convenience store. Some features of the park include boat launches, beaches, playgrounds, a volley ball court, baseball diamond and fitness trail. In the winter there are groomed snowmobile trails, ice skating, toboggan runs, ice fishing and ice fishing derbies.


Thompson is home to the Norman Northstars hockey team.Thompson's minor hockey teams are known as the King Miners.

Jennifer Saunders, the current Canadian Women's Racquetball Champion, was born and grew up in Thompson, graduating from R.D. Parker Collegiate in 1994.

The high school teams are called the RD Parker Collegiate Trojans. The Trojans' rivals are the Hapnot Kopper Kings from Flin Flon and the MBCI Spartans from The Pas.

Every year in April, students from the six elementary schools in grades 4-8 compete in the Knights of Columbus Track Meet. Juniper School dominated KoC in the 1990s, and Westwood School has had a winning streak during the 2000s.

Thompson has a large 6-sheet curling rink called the Burntwood Curling Club. The BCC has hosted several zone and provincial competitions.


City Hall

Circuit Court

Thompson is unique in being the judicial centre for a huge geographic area - ranging from Norway Housemarker in the South to Churchillmarker in the North. The Thompson Judicial district covers 15 circuits and offers both Judicial Justice of the Peace Court as well as Provinical Court sittings. Judges, Judicial Justices of the Peace, Clerks, Crown Attorneys and defence lawyers based in Thompson and Winnipeg regularly travel by small plane on circuit court to various remote communities and First Nation Communities to hold Provinical court.


There was a curfew bylaw (varying depending on age) for people under 18. [82410]. The bylaw was rescinded after The Public Interest Law Centre and Mr. Ron Dearman filed a challenge to the validity of the Curfew on the basis of sections 15, 7 and 2(d) of the Charter, division of powers and the Municipal Act.[82411][82412]. In 2007 The City of Thompson contracted with Prairie Bylaw Enforcement to have its officers enforce The City of Thompson's bylaws.[82413]


Statistics Canada

Year Population Five Year

% change
Ten Year

% change
1971 n/a n/a n/a
1976 17,291 n/a n/a
1981 14,288 -17.4 n/a
1986 14,701 2.9 -18.1
1991 14,977 1.9 4.7
1996 14,385 -4.0 -2.1
2001 13,256 -7.8 -12.0
2006 13,446 1.4 -7.1

Burntwood Regional Health Authority

Year Population 1 Year

% change
2002 14,106 n/a
2003 13,899 n/a
2004 14,215 n/a
2005 14,160 n/a
2006 14,076 n/a
2007 14,174 n/a



The local newspaper, the Thompson Citizen, is published on Wednesdays. A free newspaper produced by the same company, the Nickel Belt News, is distributed on Fridays to a wider area than the Citizen, encompassing other communities such as Churchill, Snow Lake, Norway House, Nelson House, Cross Lake, Lynn Lake, and Split Lake. Recently, the Citizen has also become a free publication.

Reference in music

The city was used in the Tragically Hip song "Thompson Girl". The song is set both in and north of Thompson, and is about the title character, a Thompson girl. One of the band members, rumor has it, dated a teacher's daughter from Thompson for a brief period, and thus the song was inspired.Thompson was also mentioned in Paul Brandt's song Small Towns and Big Dreams.



CBWTT went on the air for the first time on April 1, 1969.

External links


  1. Government Investment Supports Development of World Class Cold Weather Testing Centre in Northern Manitoba
  6. Manitoba - City Population - Cities, Towns & Provinces - Statistics & Map

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