Manitoba, province (2001 pop. 1,119,583), 250,934 sq mi (650,930 sq km), including 39,215 sq mi (101,580 sq km) of water surface, W central Canada.


Easternmost of the Prairie Provinces, Manitoba is bounded on the N by Nunavut (with a northeast shoreline on Hudson Bay), on the E by Ontario, on the S by Minnesota and North Dakota, and on the W by Saskatchewan. The south and central part of Manitoba was once covered by Pleistocene Lake Agassiz; as its waters receded into Hudson Bay, it left behind numerous lakes (the largest being Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Winnipegosis) and rivers (including the Nelson, Churchill, and Hayes) that flow northeast into the bay. In some places underlying rock formations were swept bare; in others they were covered with rich deposits of black loam. An expanse of almost uninhabited tundra surrounds the port of Churchill.

Extending south from Churchill and east from Lake Winnipeg, the topography is that of the Canadian Shield; limited areas have been cleared for general farming and dairying, and mineral and timber resources have been partly developed. Southern Manitoba is dominated by lakes, with Lake Winnipeg paralleled in the west by Winnipegosis and Manitoba. Most of the province's population is concentrated in the river valleys south of these lakes. To the west and north of the Red River valley, the land rises in an escarpment extending into the plateaus of the Pembina, Turtle, Riding, Duck, and Porcupine mountains. Much of this heavily forested area has been set off as reserves, and the Riding Mt. area is a national park.

Winnipeg is the capital and the largest city, accounting for over half of the province's population in its metropolitan area. Other important cities are Brandon, Thompson, Portage la Prairie, and Selkirk.

Economy and Higher Education

In S Manitoba are expanses of wheat, barley, oats, rye, and flax. The well-settled Souris Plains in the southwest are especially famous for their wheat fields. Canada's wheat industry originated in Manitoba, whose bread wheat has set standards for the world. Grain is shipped from Churchill (the only port in the Prairie Provinces) during the three ice-free months of the year. Although agriculture has been continually extended—especially in mixed farming, dairying, and poultry and stock raising—manufacturing has nevertheless displaced it as the leading industry in the province. Foods, printed materials, clothing, electrical items, chemicals, furniture, leather, and transportation equipment are major products.

Continuing developments in mining, pulp and paper manufacturing, and extensive hydroelectric production promise to preserve Manitoba's industrial growth. In the southwest, near Brandon, are large oil reserves, and the municipal districts of Flin Flon and The Pas, on the Saskatchewan River, are gateways to the rich mineral deposits (chiefly nickel, copper, and zinc) and timberlands of the central west; the mines at Thompson provide most of Manitoba's nickel. Beluga whales are still caught by native fishermen at Churchill, Lake Winnipeg has important fisheries, and Manitoba ranks third among the provinces in the production of (now chiefly farm-raised) fur.

Brandon Univ. is at Brandon, and the Univ. of Manitoba and the Univ. of Winnipeg are at Winnipeg.

History and Politics

The history of Manitoba began along Hudson Bay. The search for the elusive Northwest Passage to the Pacific drew such explorers as Henry Hudson, Thomas Button, Pierre Radisson, and Médard Chouart des Groseilliers, some of whom returned to England laden with beaver furs. To exploit this fur wealth, Charles II granted (1670) the Hudson's Bay Company propriety over all the lands draining into Hudson Bay. This vast area included the present-day province of Manitoba, then occupied by the Assiniboin, the Ojibwa, and the Cree. The company established a trading post at Port Nelson and soon extended its operations south to the strategic Red River valley. In 1717, Fort Prince of Wales was built at the mouth of the Churchill River (rebuilt in stone 1732-71, it is now in Fort Prince of Wales National Historic Park).

Manitoba was explored and posts were established by the French as well as by the British; their rival claims were resolved when England's conquest of Canada in the French and Indian Wars was confirmed by the Treaty of Paris in 1763. Scotsmen took over much of the French fur trade, organized the North West Company, and challenged the monopoly of the Hudson's Bay Company. A crisis came when the earl of Selkirk established the Red River Settlement at present-day Assiniboine in North West Company territory. The resulting violence deterred colonization until the merger of the two companies in 1821. From then until 1870, when the Hudson's Bay Company sold its vast domain to the newly created confederation of Canada, that company was in sole control, and settlement of the area increased.

Prearrangements for the transfer of the land to the new dominion government led to conflict between government representatives and Métis (people of mixed European-indigenous Canadian ancestry), who had long enjoyed almost total autonomy under the Hudson's Bay Company's rule. Fearing political persecution and the loss of their land, they staged (1869) the Red River Rebellion under the leadership of Louis Riel. The rebellion was nominally successful and the Métis were granted land and cultural rights, but after Manitoba was organized as a province in 1870, most of the Métis were harassed into moving farther west.

Agricultural settlement in Manitoba proceeded slowly, but when the railroads came (1870 and 1881), they provided access to grain markets on the Great Lakes, and during the 1880s the population doubled. Manitoba's area was enlarged in 1881, and in 1912 it was given its present extension to Hudson Bay. The depression of 1913 and the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 ended this period of prosperity, during which Winnipeg had served as a great transportation center. With the completion of the Hudson Bay Railway to Churchill in 1929, however, the province was in a position to use the shorter sea route eastward.

During the last part of the 19th cent. and the first part of the 20th, the Canadian government advertised for immigrants to settle the prairies, and huge numbers of Russians, Poles, Estonians, Scandinavians, Icelanders, and Hungarians responded. The largest single immigrant group was the Ukrainians, who now constitute over 11% of the population and are an important part of Manitoban culture. The province provided a multilingual school system from 1897 to 1916 but abolished it when the number of ethnic groups requesting such facilities grew too large. Further immigration came with World War I when American pacifist sects (e.g., Mennonites and Hutterites), seeking to avoid military service, set up colonies of their own in the province. Manitoba still has problems amalgamating its many ethnic groups, including the Métis, and indigenous groups suffer high unemployment and related ills.

Manitoba has alternated politically between socialist (New Democratic party) and conservative (Progressive Conservative party) governments since the 1950s. Progressive Conservative Sterling Lyon was elected in 1977 after promising to reduce the provincial debt, but he was defeated in 1981 by New Democrat Howard Pawley. Lyon's was the only one-term government in Manitoba history. Conservatives regained control of the government in 1989 under Gary Filmon, who held office until he was defeated by the New Democrat Gary Doer (in the fourth race between the two leaders) in 1999. Doer and the New Democrats were returned to power in 2003 and 2007.

Manitoba sends 6 senators and 14 representatives to the national parliament.


See W. L. Morton, Manitoba: A History (2d ed. 1967); J. A. Jackson, The Centennial History of Manitoba (1970); Manitoba: Past and Present, ed. by D. Dawes (tr. 1971); F. McGuinness and K. S. Coates, Manitoba: The Province and the People (1987).

Manitoba, Lake, 1,817 sq mi (4,706 sq km), SW Man., Canada; one of the largest lakes of North America. A remnant of glacial Lake Agassiz, it is fed by Lake Winnipegosis and drains into Lake Winnipeg. Its shores are marshy. The lake has commercial fisheries.
Manitoba, University of, at Winnipeg, Man., Canada; provincially supported, coeducational; chartered 1877. It has faculties of arts and sciences, graduate studies, law, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, education, social work, engineering, architecture, management, human ecology, and physical education. There are also schools of agriculture, art, music, nursing, medical rehabilitation, and dental hygiene.
Manitoba (English ; French /manitoba/) is a province of Canada, spanning 647,797 square kilometres (250,116  sq mi) of North America, and a population of 1,196,291 (2008 estimates).

Manitoba is located in Western Canada and borders the U.S. states of North Dakota and Minnesota to the south, Nunavut and Hudson Bay to the north, Saskatchewan to the west, and Ontario to the east.

In 1870 it became the first province created from the territories. Louis Riel named the new Province "Manitoba" which is related to the Algonquian word "Manitou", meaning 'spirit'. Manitoba, in the Red River Valley region, contained the first western colony and settlement of Canada. Manitoba is the only Canadian Province with an Arctic deep water sea port, located in Churchill, Manitoba, bordering Hudson Bay. Manitoba's sea port is the only link along the shortest shipping route between Asia and Europe.

Its capital and largest city is Winnipeg, with a population of 633,451. The Winnipeg Capital Regions total population as of the 2006 census was 730,305. Other important cities are Brandon, Thompson, Portage la Prairie, Steinbach, Selkirk, and Winkler.


Manitoba is located in Western Canada and borders the U.S. states of North Dakota and Minnesota to the south, Nunavut and Hudson Bay to the north, Saskatchewan to the west, and Ontario to the east.

The province has a large coastline boardering Hudson Bay and contains the tenth-largest fresh-water lake in the world, Lake Winnipeg, along with two other large lakes: Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipegosis. Manitoba's lakes cover approximately 14.5% or 94,241 km2 of its surface area. Lake Winnipeg is the largest lake within the borders of southern Canada, and the east side has some of the last remote and intact watersheds left in the world. The large rivers that flow into the east side of Lake Winnipeg's basin are pristine, with no major developments along them. Many uninhabited islands can be found along the eastern shore of this lake. There are over 110,000 lakes spread throughout the province.

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

Baldy Mountain is the highest point at 832 m above sea level (2,727 ft) and the Hudson Bay coast is the lowest at sea level. Other upland areas include Riding Mountain, 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 Whiteshell Provincial Park, Atikaki Provincial Park, and Nopiming Provincial Park. Birds Hill Provincial Park was originally an island in Lake Agassiz after the melting of glaciers.

Extensive agriculture is only found only in the southern half of the province. 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. Altona is the "sunflower capitol of Canada". Around 12% of Canadian farmland is in Manitoba.

The eastern, southeastern, and northern reaches of the province range through boreal coniferous forests, muskeg, Canadian Shield and a small section of tundra boardering Hudson Bay. Forests make up about 26.3 million hectares (or 48%) of the province's 54.8 million hectare 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. The great expanses of intact forested areas are considered by many naturalists, hikers, and hunters as pristine wilderness areas. 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 largely populated communities. There are many clean and untouched rivers, many that originate from the Canadian Shield in neighbouring Ontario. These pristine and intact 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 now a proposed United Nations Heritage Site that is approved by the First Nation communities of those particular traditional lands.


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 in many areas, 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 the Bermuda High Pressure ridges into the North American continent, the more warm, humid air is drawn northward from the Gulf of Mexico, generally during the months of July or August.

Manitoba is also a very sunny province; Portage la Prairie has the most sunny days in warm months in Canada; and Winnipeg has the second clearest skies year-round and is the second sunniest city in Canada in the spring and winter.

Southern Manitoba is also prone to high humidity in the summer months with the extreme of 53.0°C (127.4°F) in Carman Manitoba, which set the highest humidex recorded in Canada. There are three main climatic regions.

The northern section of the province (including the city of Thompson) 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) several days each winter, and have a few weeks that remain below −18 °C (0 °F).

The southwestern corner (Including the city of Brandon) has a semi-arid mid-latitude steppe climate (Koppen climate classification BSk). The region is somewhat drier than other parts of southern Manitoba and very drought-prone. It is very 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.

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

Southern parts of the province, located just north of Tornado Alley, experience a few 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 (that being the strongest officially recorded tornado in Canada), and an F3 tornado that was captured on video. 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.


Manitoba has two National Parks, and many beautifull provincial parks.

National parks

Provincial parks


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 Mountain area, where large numbers of petroforms and medicine wheels 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 River near Lockport. Eventually there were the aboriginal settlements of Ojibwa, Cree, Dene, Sioux, Mandan, and Assiniboine peoples, along with other tribes that entered the area to trade. There were many land trails made as a part of a larger native trading network on both land and water. The Whiteshell Provincial Park region along the Winnipeg River has many old petroforms and may have been a trading centre, or even a place of learning and sharing of knowledge for over 2,000 years. The cowry shells and copper found in this area are proof of what was traded as a part of a large trading network to the oceans, and to the larger southern native civilizations along the Mississippi River and in the south and southwest.

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. For thousands of years there have been humans living in this region, and there are many archaeological clues about their ways of life. Ongoing research will be needed to uncover more artifacts and rock art to lend to a more detailed understanding of past peoples and cultures in Manitoba.

Rupert's Land

In 1611, Henry Hudson was one of the first Europeans to sail into what is now known as Hudson Bay. The Nonsuch ship that sailed into Hudson Bay in 1668-1669 was 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 form the Hudson's Bay Company. York Factory was originally the main fort of the Hudson's Bay Company trading network. 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 River and Lake Winnipeg in 1612 and may have reached somewhere along the edge of the prairies, where he reported seeing a bison. 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. Many 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-Boniface district of eastern Winnipeg. Fur trading forts were built by both the North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company along the many rivers and lakes, and there was often fierce competition between the two in more southern areas. The territory was won by Great Britain in 1763 as part of the French and Indian War.

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".

Most rivers and water in Manitoba eventually flow north and empty into Hudson Bay. 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 Oaks in 1816, in which the settlers fired the first shots. There was also one Métis man killed. Many fur trading forts were also attacked during this period.


When Rupert's Land was ceded to Canada in 1869 and incorporated into the Northwest Territories, 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 government and the Canadian government 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 square in shape—it was known as the "postage stamp province". It grew progressively, absorbing land from the Northwest Territories until it attained its current size by reaching 60°N in 1912. The creation of Manitoba out of the Northwest Territories was quick because of the settlements in the Red River area by the Métis and the Lord Selkirk settlers. The Red River colony and Fort Garry area were the only colony in the west, and the Métis set up a provisional republic government prior to joining with Canada. Saskatchewan and Alberta went through a longer period as part of the Northwest Territories until their creation as provinces in 1905.

The decision to make Manitoba a full-fledged province in 1870 resulted from three influences:

  • A misunderstanding on the part of the Canadian authorities.
  • The formation of a provisional government of the Métis by Louis Riel.
  • Fears of manifest destiny sentiments in the United States, ignoring Americans denials of any such goals.

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 Ruperts' 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 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 on regarding Red River's status. John A. Macdonald introduced the Manitoba Act in the Canadian House of Commons and pretended that the question of province or territory was of no significance. The bill was given royal assent and Manitoba joined Canada as a province.

It was a significant leap of faith imposing responsible government on Manitoba in 1870 without any adjustment period. It went against all conventional wisdom of the time. However, Macdonald's misunderstanding of territorial versus provincial status, the rise of the Métis people and the burgeoning growth of the United States all compelled him to act in a nation building initiative. In the years that followed, much like the years that preceded, Manitoba went through many upheavals. However, parliamentary government and the Province that was created in 1870 prevailed.

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 jurisdicion 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 French 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 over-ride 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.

20th century

Winnipeg was the 4th largest city in Canada by the early 20th century. A boomtown, it grew quickly around the turn of the century. There were a lot of outside investors, immigrants and railways. Many old mansions and estates atest to Winnipeg's growing wealthy class. 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 ahead, such as Calgary today.

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 Russia, 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 Police that resulted in 30 casualties and one death and the arrest of the strike leaders, contributed to this decision. As historian William Morton explained:

The strike, then, began with two immediate aims and two subsidiary but increasingly important aspects. One aim was the redress of legitimate grievances with respect to wages and collective bargaining; the other was the trial of a new instrument of economic action, the general strike, the purpose of which was to put pressure on the employers involved in the dispute through the general public. The first subsidiary aspect was that the general strike, however, might be a prelude to the seizure of power in the community by Labour, and both the utterances and the policies of the O.B.U. leaders pointed in that direction. The second subsidiary aspect was that, as a struggle for leadership in the Labour movement was being waged as the strike began, it was not made clear which object, the legitimate and limited one, or the revolutionary and general one, was the true purpose of the strike. It is now apparent that the majority of both strikers and strike leaders were concerned only to win the strike. The general public at large, however, subjected to the sudden coercion of the general strike, was only too likely to decide that a revolutionary seizure of power was in view. [Morton 365-6]

More recently, many historians have disagreed with Morton's interpretation of the strike and have written considerably different histories of it.

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 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, running against politics as usual, won in 1922, with 30 seats, against 7 returning Liberals, 6 Conservatives, 6 Labour, and 8 Independents.

Since 1969, the New Democratic Party (NDP) has been the most successful provincial political party, winning seven of the eleven elections during this period.


According to the 2001 Canadian census, the largest ethnic group in Manitoba is English (22.1%), followed by German (18.2%), Scottish (17.7%), Ukrainian (14.3%), Irish (13.0%), First Nations (9.9%), Polish (6.7%), Métis (5.2%), French (5.1%) Dutch (4.7%) and Icelandic (2.0%) - although almost a quarter of all respondents also identified their ethnicity as "Canadian". Winnipeg Capital Region has about 711,500.

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

Manitoba holds the distinction of being the only Canadian Province or Territory with over 60% of its population located in a single city (Winnipeg).


The largest denominations by number of adherents according to the 2001 census 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 %).


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 all 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.

Manitoba has two Class I railways. They are CN and Canadian Pacific Railway. Winnipeg is centrally located on the main lines of both of these continental carriers, and both companies maintain large intermodal terminals in the city. CN and CP operate a combined 2,439 kilometres of track within Manitoba. Via Rail Canada offers transcontenial and northern Manitoba passenger service from Winnipeg's Union Station. 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 1,775 kilometres of track within the province.

Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport 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 140,000 tonnes of cargo annually which makes it the 3rd largest in the country. Currently the airport is going under major redevelopment, with a new terminal (phase 1), parkade (already built), 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. It also receives daily transborder service from UPS. Air Canada Cargo and Cargojet Airways use the airport as a major hub for national traffic.

The Port of Churchill, 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 600,000 tonnes of agricultural product was shipped through the port.


Manitoba's early economy depended on mobility and living off of the land. Many 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 entering the province in the 17th century changed the dynamics of the economy of Manitoba forever. For the first time, permanent settlements of forts were created and communities evolved over time. Most of the economy centred around the trade of beaver pelts and other furs. Many native scouts and native maps were used to help the fur traders make their way through the region. Some of the best early maps were made with the help of natives who knew the river routes within their traditional home territories. The natural rivers, creeks, and lakes were the most important routes for trade and travel.

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 lack of reliable transportation and an ongoing dispute between the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), the North West Company and the Métis impeded growth. The eventual triumph of the Hudson's Bay Company over its competitors ensured the primacy of the fur trade over widespread agricultural colonization. Any trade not sanctioned by the Hudson's Bay Company was frowned upon. It took many years for the Red River Colony to develop under HBC rule. 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.

By 1849, the HBC faced even greater threats to its monopoly. A Métis fur trader named Pierre Guillaume Sayer was charged with illegal trading by the Hudson's Bay Company. Sayer had been trading with Norman Kittson who resided just beyond the HBC's reach in Pembina, North Dakota. The court found Sayer guilty, but the judge levied no fine or punishment.

In 1853, a second agricultural community started in Portage la Prairie.

The courts could no longer be used by the HBC to enforce its monopoly. The result was a weakening of HBC rule over the region and laid the foundations of provincehood for Manitoba.

Although Manitoba's economy strongly ties to agriculture, mining, and forestry; oil is now also becoming more dominent with Virden, Manitoba being the "Oil Capital of Manitoba".


Manitoba has many festivals and events year round. Every year on the last weekend of August, Morden holds the Corn and Apple Festival, where those who attend can enjoy free corn and apple cider. During the weekend of the festival, the town closes off the downtown from vehicles and transforms Stephen Street into festival grounds. It is the largest festival in the Pembina Valley.

Stonewalls local festival is the "Quarry Days", which is usually held over three days in August at the Stonewall Quarry Park.

Altona hosts the annual "Sunflower Festival" and is the "The Sunflower Capital Of Canada".

Portage La Prairie hosts a Potato Festival each summer.

Morris hosts the Manitoba Stampede and Exhibition every July. The Manitoba Stampede and Exhibition (also known as the Big "M"), is the largest professional rodeo east of Calgary, Alberta.

Dauphin plays host to several summer festivals, including Dauphin's Countryfest, Jesus Manifest, and the National Ukrainian Festival the first weekend of August.

Neepawa celebrates its Lily Festival in the third weekend of July.

St. Pierre-Jolys hosts several popular festivals, such as the "Cabane a sucre" (maple syrup festival) in April; the Festival Chantecler, (a celebration of Francophone arts); and the signature "St-Pierre-Jolys Frog Follies", a village fair featuring the Canadian frog jumping competition.

Winnipeg is home to several large festivals. Folklorama is the largest multicultural festival in the world. Close to half a million visitors and 20,000 volunteers participate, celebrating the song, dance, food and drink of many nations of the world. The Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival is North America's second largest Fringe Festival, held every July. The Winnipeg Folk Festival in the second weekend of July draws tens of thousands from all over Canada and the U.S.

During a 10 day period in February of each year, le Festival du Voyageur is held in the Saint-Boniface district of Winnipeg. It is Western Canada's largest winter festival and celebrates the 18th and 19th century fur trade and the voyageurs who participated in it.


Manitoba is governed by a unicameral legislature, the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, which operates under the Westminster system of government. The executive branch is formed by the majority party and the party leader is the Premier of Manitoba, the head of government. The head of state is represented by the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, who is appointed by the Governor General of Canada on advice of the Prime Minister of Canada. The head of state is mainly a ceremonial and a figurative role today.

The legislative arm of the Government of Manitoba 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, the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba and the Liberal Party of Manitoba.

The Legislative Assembly of Manitoba was established on July 14, 1870. Originally, it was named a Parliament and was later named a Legislature. Manitoba attained full fledged rights and responsibilities of self-government as the first Canadian province carved out of the Northwest Territories, control over which had been passed by Great Britain to the Government of Canada in 1869 because of the sale of Rupert's Land by the Hudson's Bay Company.

The current premier of Manitoba is Gary Doer of the NDP (New Democratic Party). He is presently serving his third mandate with a majority government of 36 seats. The Progressive Conservative Party holds 19 seats, and the Liberal Party (which does not have official party status) has 2. The last election was held Tuesday, May 22, 2007.

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):

Either the English or the French language may be used by any person in the debates of the Houses of the Legislature and both those languages shall be used in the respective Records and Journals of those Houses; and either of those languages may be used by any person, or in any Pleading or Process, in or issuing from any Court of Canada established under the Constitution Act, 1867, or in or from all or any of the Courts of the Province. The Acts of the Legislature shall be Printed and published in both those languages.

However, with the rise to power of the English-only movement in Manitoba from 1890 onwards, this provision was disregarded in practice and also by Manitoban legislation. 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, as well as in the Courts of Manitoba. Among other things, the Manitoban Legislature ceased to publish legislation in French but did so in English only. However, in 1985 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the Reference re Manitoba Language Rights that §23 still applied, and that legislation published only in English was invalid (so that Manitoba did not descend into a state of lawlessness, unilingual legislation was declared valid for a temporary period, to give the government of Manitoba time to issue translations.)

Although French is an official language for the purposes of the legislature, legislation, and the courts, the Manitoba Act (as interpreted by the Supreme Court of Canada) does not require it to be an official language for the purpose of the executive branch of government (except when the executive branch is 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 Brunswick.

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, including public utilities and health services, official documents such as parking tickets and court summonses, court and commission hearings, and government web sites are accessible in both English and French.

Important cities

Ten largest cities
by population
City 2006 2001
Winnipeg 675,483 626,956
Brandon 41,511 39,716
Thompson 13,446 13,256
Portage la Prairie 12,773 13,019
Steinbach 11,066 9,227
Selkirk 9,553 9,772
Winkler 9,106 7,943
Dauphin 7,906 8,085
Morden 6,547 6,159
The Pas 5,765 6,030

Professional sports teams


Canadian Forces Base Winnipeg (CFB Winnipeg) is a Canadian Forces Base located in Winnipeg.

Co-located at the Winnipeg International Airport, CFB Winnipeg is home to many flight operations support divisions, as well as several training schools. It is also the 1 Canadian Air Division/Canadian NORAD Region Headquarters. The base is supported by over 3,000 military personnel and civilian employees.

17 Wing of the Canadian Forces is based in Winnipeg near the international airport. The Wing has three squadrons and six schools. It also provides support to the Central Flying School.

The Wing also supports 113 units stretching from Thunder Bay, to the Saskatchewan/Alberta border and from the 49th Parallel to the high Arctic. 17 Wing also acts as a deployed operating base for CF-18 Hornet fighter-bombers assigned to the Canadian NORAD Region.

Two squadrons based in the city are:

  • 402 “City of Winnipeg” Squadron. This squadron 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.
  • 435 “Chinthe” Transport and Rescue Squadron. This squadron flies the powerful Lockheed CC-130 Hercules tanker/transport in the 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 in support of operational and training activities at home and abroad. The CC-130 Hercules tanker is a key asset for the Canadian NORAD Region in its mission to defend Canada and the United States against aerial threats that originate outside or within North American airspace.

For many years, Winnipeg was the home of The Second Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, or 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 part of Winnipeg. Since 2004, the 550 men and women of the battalion have operated out of Canadian Forces Base Shilo near Brandon.

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 armored reconnaissance and field engineer reserve unit based at McGregor Armoury in Winnipeg.

Canadian Forces Base Shilo (or CFB Shilo) is an Operations and Training base of the Canadian Forces located 35 km east of Brandon, Manitoba. During the 1990s, Canadian Forces Base Shilo was also designated as an Area Support Unit, which acts 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, 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 some support units of Land Force Western Area, including 731 Signals Squadron.

See also




  • 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
  • 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)
  • Morton, William Lewis. Manitoba: A History (1970) (ISBN 0-8020-6070-6), the standard scholarly history
  • 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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