November 28, 2012 6:48 am
Manitoba has three nicknames. It’s known as the Postage Stamp Province, the Keystone Province, and the Land of 100,000 Lakes. It’s also one of ’s Prairie Provinces.
Facts About Manitoba
1,190,000 people
Rank among provinces and territories in population
Major cities
Winnipeg, Brandon
250,000 square miles
648,000 square kilometers
Rank among provinces and territories in area
Entry into federation
July 15, 1870
Provincial bird
Great Grey Owl
Provincial flower
Prairie Crocus
Manitoba is the easternmost of Canada’s three Prairie Provinces. The other two are Alberta and Saskatchewan. Much of the land in these provinces is treeless prairie, flat as far as the eye can see.
Fertile farmland covers the southern part of Manitoba. Here, farmers raise grain, hogs, and cattle. Wheat is Manitoba’s major crop, and food processing is its major industry. Winnipeg, Manitoba’s capital and largest city, is in southern Manitoba.
Vast forests lie north of the farmland. In the far north, the land is frozen most of the year. Few people live in northern Manitoba.
Manitoba is the only Prairie Province with a coastline. It borders Hudson Bay on the northeast. Thousands of lakes are scattered across Manitoba. All the waters in Manitoba flow toward Hudson Bay.
Glaciers flattened Manitoba during the last ice age. A huge lake formed when the glaciers melted about 10,000 years ago. Lake Agassiz covered much of Manitoba and spread into the United States.
Over time, Lake Agassiz got smaller. But it left behind Lake Winnipeg and thousands of other lakes in Manitoba. The rest of what was Lake Agassiz is now fertile lakebed. Here, grain and other crops are grown.
Today, lakes and large rivers cover about 16 percent of the province. That’s an area almost as big as the state of Ohio.
Manitoba covers a large area. Although it ranks eighth in size among Canada’s ten provinces, it’s almost as big as the state of Texas. But when it became a Canadian province, it was tiny. That’s how it got the nickname the Postage Stamp Province.
Manitoba’s first European settlers came from Scotland. A Scottish nobleman, the earl of Selkirk, bought land in Canada. He helped homeless Scottish families settle it in the early 1800s.
The Scottish farmers settled in the Red River Valley near Lake Winnipeg. Their colony was known as Assiniboia. The farmers faced severe hardship. Their crops failed to thrive, and fur trappers attacked their farms.
Many of the settlers married natives, mainly Ojibwa and Cree Indians. Their descendants are known as Métis. Métis are Canadians of mixed European and native ancestry.
In 1869, word came that Assiniboia was to join Canada and become part of Canada’s vast Northwest Territories. The Métis were furious. They were afraid they would lose their lands, power, and identity as new immigrants came in.
Louis Riel led the Métis of Assiniboia in a rebellion. After many months, they convinced Canada to approve the Manitoba Act. It granted the people of the Red River Valley the right to form a separate province. Their province was called Manitoba. It became a part of Canada on July 15, 1870.
Manitoba’s fertile lands attracted settlers. They arrived from Russia, Iceland, Germany, and other countries. Some came from the neighboring province of Ontario. In 1881, and again in 1912, the government expanded Manitoba’s boundaries. It is now almost 18 times its original “postage-stamp” size.
Manitoba’s position at the center of Canada earned it a new nickname. It became the Keystone Province. A keystone is a central support on which others depend.
Nearly 60 percent of Manitoba’s people live in or near Winnipeg. It is the oldest city in the Prairie Provinces. The city’s name comes from Cree Indian words meaning “murky waters.” The murky(cloudy) waters are probably those of Lake Winnipeg to the north of the city.
Winnipeg is located at the meeting place of the Assiniboine and Red rivers. Fur traders built a fort there in the 1700s. Winnipeg grew rapidly after the railroad reached it in 1881. It gained importance as a grain market and railroad transportation center for the prairies.
Today, Winnipeg is a cultural center for the Prairie Provinces. It has a ballet company, symphony orchestra, theater, and museums.
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