Introduction to Manitoba

(continuer en français) – Published: August 28, 2021

Manitoba is a perfect example of that vast flat expanse of land in the centre of Canada, the Prairies. The French were the first to travel the rivers for the fur trade, and the first trading post was established at Winnipeg in 1738. Then came Fort Gibraltar with a beginning of settlement mainly composed of Métis who had worked as Voyageurs for the fur companies.

In 1870, under the lead of Louis Riel, a first territory around Winnipeg was established as a ‘province’ to join Canada. It was mocked as being the size of a postage stamp. The stamp grew with time and the transfer to Canada of the territories administered by the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Lower Fort Garry, Manitoba

Winnipeg

Winnipeg is the capital of Manitoba and with nearly 700,000 inhabitants it is the main city of this part of the Prairies, which is otherwise very sparsely populated. It is the administrative capital and a commercial city, especially for grain, but some of its neighbourhoods reflect the difficult social integration of the former populations (more).

Assiniboine Park

Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park covers 450 hectares and was created in 1904. It contains several parts with different vocations, including sports fields, a zoo and a forest left in its natural state. There are also works of art, such as the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden with more than 300 works by the artist (more).

St. Boniface

St. Boniface is the French-speaking quarter of Winnipeg. It is where the city began, so there are many historic buildings. In 1971, St. Boniface was amalgamated with Winnipeg while retaining a distinct personality. The memory of the past is carefully maintained as illustrated by the many references to Louis Riel (more).

Deschambault Street

At the beginning of the 20th century, the street was an isolated place on the outskirts of St. Boniface, and it still is to some extent. At 375 is the birthplace of Gabrielle Roy, the great French-Canadian writer. The house is often present in her work. She received the Prix Femina in France for her first major novel, The Tin Flute (more).

Lower Fort Garry

The Hudson’s Bay Company built Lower Fort Garry in 1830 north of Winnipeg. Early leaders insisted on building in stone, a luxury in a country where most houses were made of wood. It was also a way of imposing on the First Nations and Métis. Despite its military appearance, the fort never saw combat (more).

St. Norbert

Along with St. Boniface and St. Vital, St. Norbert is another francophone neighbourhood in Winnipeg. A little more rural in appearance, it still has an interesting collection of old houses that refer to ox carts. This cart used by the Métis for transportation, which succeeded the canoes and died out with the arrival of the railway, an essential means of opening up the area.

St. Georges

St. Georges is a small Franco-Manitoban community isolated in the vast agricultural plain of Manitoba. Its origins date back to 1882 after the arrival of Quebec families. Today there are approximately 500 residents. A Winnipeg River Heritage Museum proudly recounts the heroic days, collecting all the relics that have become obsolete.

Selkirk

The town of Selkirk is located on the Red River between Winnipeg and Lake Winnipeg. A bridge crosses the river and a marine museum is located on the bank. The name comes from the creator of the Red River Settlement in the 19th century which covered a large area. There were fights and deaths, the colony failed but it was a step in what became Manitoba.

Whiteshell Park

Whiteshell Provincial Park protects a wilderness area in the eastern part of the province. There are many lakes and rivers that make a perfect backdrop for outdoor recreation. Hiking and canoeing are the best ways to explore the park. The low-key tourist facilities make for a rustic stay, and there are also more comfortable cottages.

Lake Winnipeg

About 50 kilometres, 30 miles, north of Winnipeg begins Lake Winnipeg, stretching 400 kilometres, 250 miles, northward. A true inland sea, it was originally an essential means of travel to Hudson Bay. With its sandy beaches, it has become a place of recreation, especially to escape the summer heat.

 

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21 comments

  1. I have heard a lot about Assinoboine. One CBC show I watch is called Arctic Vets and they are the vets that work at the park. It’s fascinating to see how they work with these amazing Arctic animals!

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is little tourist information on the Prairies, even in Canada, there is no guidebook in bookstores. On site, if you’re curious, there are plenty of places that look like they’re straight out of the pioneer days.

      Like

  2. I can see from your images that I need to reach a little further into the province on our next trip to Winnipeg.
    We were last in Assiniboine Park about 30 years ago. It’s time for a revisit. Furthest north I’ve been is to Gimli to see the lake and visit the Gimli Glider museum. I need to see Selkirk and some of the other places you mention here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is probably more to see than the lack of a Prairie travel guide would suggest. I liked Lower Fort Garry and the explanations given by the people who work there, they really seem to be immersed in that era.

      Liked by 1 person

      • We visited Lower Fort Garry as well and found the place fascinating. Covid had just started being a problem and they had adjusted their schedule to deal with social distancing, but they still did a great job of telling their story.

        Liked by 1 person

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