Manitoba is one of three prairie provinces located in Canada, with the other two being Saskatchewan and Alberta. About 1.369 million people live in the province, making it the fifth-most populous province in the country. Various indigenous peoples have populated the area for thousands of years. European traders first entered the area as part of the fur trading industry in the 17th century. The capital of Manitoba is Winnipeg, which is among the largest metropolitan areas in Canada.
The area now known as Manitoba has been populated by First Nations people since the last glaciers of the ice age retreated from the southwest around ten thousand years ago. As the ice age ended, the first land to become exposed was the area around Turtle Mountain. Assiniboine, Mandan, Sioux, Dene, Cree, and Ojibwe peoples founded settlements. Other tribes of people moved through the area for trade purposes. Quartz was used to create arrowheads in Northern Manitoba. Along the Red River, seed crops like corn were planted as part of the area’s first farming.
1611 was when Henry Hudson sailed into Hudson Bay, at which point he was abandoned by the ship’s crew. Sir Thomas Button became the first known European to reach the areas that are now southern and central Manitoba. He traveled along the Nelson River and reached Lake Winnipeg in 1612 as he tried to rescue Henry Hudson. A British ship called Nonsuch sailed into the bay in 1668 and 1669, becoming the first trade ship that had reached the area.
The voyage of this trading vessel caused the Hudson’s Bay Company to be established. This company was given full control of the Hudson Bay watershed. At the time, the watershed was called Rupert’s Land in honor of Prince Rupert. In 1684, York Factory was founded following the destruction of the original Hudson’s Bay Company fort.
In the 1730s, the area became open to French trade and exploration. The North West Company, based in Montreal, engaged in trade with local Indigenous communities. The Hudson’s Bay Company and North West Company both created fur trading forts and occasionally engaged in violence until the two companies merged.
Great Britain gained control of the territory in 1763. The Hudson’s Bay Company ceded control of Rupert’s Land to the Canadian government in 1869. At this point, the watershed was incorporated into the Northwest Territories of Canada. When Manitoba was first created, it had just one-eighteenth of its current size. Many people colloquially referred to it as a “postage stamp province.” Manitoba reached its current borders in 1912 when it claimed land from the Northwest Territories.
In 1911, Winnipeg was the third largest city in Canada. Following the First World War, discontent among farmers and workers led to the Winnipeg general strike that occurred in 1919. It lasted for more than a month. The Great Depression also hit Manitoba hard.
Part of Winnipeg had to be evacuated during the Red River Flood of 1950. This flood inundated the majority of the Red River Valley. After the destruction, the Red River Floodway was constructed.
To the south, Manitoba is bordered by Minnesota and North Dakota. To the north, the province is bordered by the territory Nunavut; to the west, by the province Saskatchewan; and to the east, by the province Ontario. In the northeast, Manitoba joins Hudson Bay. It’s the only one of the three prairie provinces that has a saltwater coastline.
The Port of Churchill, located in Manitoba, is the only Arctic deep water port in Canada. Manitoba is located at the center of Hudson Bay’s large watershed. In addition, Lake Winnipeg is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world.
The highest point in the province is Baldy Mountain, which rises 832 meters or 2,730 feet above sea level. Very few people live in the north and east of the province, as these areas lie on irregular granite.
In the south of the province, there’s extensive agriculture. Cattle husbandry is the most common agriculture-related activity, followed by grains.
Manitoba’s continental climate tends to have extreme temperatures. The north tends to be colder than the south, and the west tends to be colder than the east. In January and February, the province is exposed to high-pressure Arctic air masses. In the summer months, some air masses travel north from the Southern United States.
Manitoba has the clearest skies on average out of all of Canada’s provinces. It has the second-clearest skies in the summer, and the largest number of sunny days in the winter and springtime. In Southern Manitoba, the area is part of a humid continental climate zone.
Manitoba’s economy tends to be based around natural resources. The economy is most reliant on agriculture, electricity, tourism, forestry, mining, and oil. Most agriculture can be found in the southern portion of the province, but there are some grain farms further north.
The largest employers in Manitoba are the government and institutions funded by the government. These include universities, hospitals, and crown corporations. There are also several large employers in the private sector.
Manitoba was the second Canadian province to create and pass accessibility legislation. This legislation is designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities.
Manitoba is the only Canadian province in which more than fifty-five percent of the total population exists in just one city.
Manitoba Cities and Regional Municipalities Include: