Manitoba /ˌmænɨˈtoʊbə/ is a Canadian prairie province. The province, with an area of 649,950 square kilometres (250,900 sq mi), has a largely continental climate, with thousands of lakes and many rivers. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy; other major industries are transportation, manufacturing, mining, forestry, energy, and tourism. The word "Manitoba" comes from the native word manitou, meaning spirit. Lake Manitoba was named earlier, north of Portage la Prairie.
Manitoba's capital and largest city, Winnipeg, is Canada's eighth-largest Census Metropolitan Area, and home to 60 percent of the population of the province. Winnipeg is the seat of government, home to the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba and the highest court in the jurisdiction, the Manitoba Court of Appeal. Four of the province's five universities, all four of its professional sports teams, and most of its cultural activities are located in Winnipeg.
The name Manitoba (meaning "strait of the spirit" or "lake of the prairies") is believed to be derived from the Cree, Ojibwe or Assiniboine language. Fur traders first arrived during the late 17th century and Manitoba was the heart of Rupert's Land, owned by the Hudson's Bay Company. Manitoba became a province of Canada in 1870 after the Red River Rebellion. A general strike took place in Winnipeg in 1919, and the province was hit hard by the Great Depression. This led to the creation of what would become the New Democratic Party of Manitoba, one of the province's major political parties and currently in power, led by Premier Greg Selinger.
The name Manitoba is believed to be derived from the Cree, Ojibwe or Assiniboine languages. The name derives from Cree manitou-wapow or Ojibwa manidoobaa, both meaning "straits of Manitou, the Great Spirit", a place referring to what are now called The Narrows in the centre of Lake Manitoba. The lake was known to French explorers as Lac des Prairies. Thomas Spence chose the name to refer to a new republic he proposed for the area south of the lake. Louis Riel also chose the name, and it was accepted in Ottawa under the Manitoba Act of 1870.
Manitoba is bordered by the provinces of Ontario to the east and Saskatchewan to the west, the territories of Nunavut and Northwest Territories to the north, and the US states of North Dakota and Minnesota to the south. It adjoins Hudson Bay to the northeast, and is the only prairie province with a salt water coastline. The Churchill port is the only arctic deep-water port in Canada and the shortest shipping route between North America and Asia. Lake Winnipeg is the tenth largest freshwater lake in the world, and the largest lake within the borders of southern Canada. Hudson Bay is the 2nd largest bay in the world. Manitoba is at the heart of the giant Hudson Bay watershed, once known as [Rupert's Land]. It was a vital area of the Hudson's Bay Company, with many rivers and lakes that provided excellent opportunities for trade.
Hydrography and terrain
The province has a saltwater coastline bordering Hudson Bay and contains over 110,000 lakes, covering approximately 15.6 percent or 101,593 square kilometres (39,225 sq mi) of its surface area. Manitoba's major lakes are Lake Manitoba, Lake Winnipegosis, and Lake Winnipeg, the tenth-largest freshwater lake in the world and the largest located entirely within southern Canada. Some traditional Native lands and boreal forest on the east side of Lake Winnipeg are a proposed UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Manitoba is located at the center of the Hudson Bay drainage basin, with a high volume of the water draining into Lake Winnipeg and then north down the Nelson River into Hudson Bay. This basin has rivers reaching far west to the mountains, far south into the United States, and east into Ontario. Major watercourses include the Red, Assiniboine, Nelson, Winnipeg, Hayes, Whiteshell and Churchill Rivers. Most of Manitoba's inhabited south lies in the prehistoric bed of Glacial Lake Agassiz. This region, particularly the Red River Valley, is flat and fertile; there are hilly and rocky areas throughout the province left behind by receding glaciers.
Baldy Mountain is the highest point in the province at 832 metres (2,730 ft) above sea level, and the Hudson Bay coast is the lowest at sea level. Riding Mountain, the Pembina Hills, Sandilands Provincial Forest, and the Canadian Shield are also upland regions. Much of the province's sparsely inhabited north and east lie on the irregular granite Canadian Shield, including Whiteshell, Atikaki, and Nopiming Provincial Parks.
Extensive agriculture is found only in the southern areas of the province, although there is grain farming in the Carrot Valley Region (near The Pas). The most common agricultural activity is cattle husbandry (34.6%), followed by assorted grains (19.0%) and oilseed (7.9%). Around 12 percent of Canadian farmland is located in Manitoba.
Manitoba has an extreme continental climate; temperatures and precipitation generally decrease from south to north, and precipitation decreases from east to west. Manitoba is far removed from the moderating influences of both mountain ranges and large bodies of water, and because of the generally flat landscape, it is exposed to cold Arctic high-pressure air masses from the northwest during January and February. In the summer, air masses sometimes come out of the Southern United States, as warm humid air is drawn northward from the Gulf of Mexico.
According to Environment Canada, Manitoba ranked first for clearest skies year round, and ranked second for clearest skies in the summer and for the sunniest province in the winter and spring. Manitoba is far removed from the moderating influences of both mountain ranges and oceans, and because it is in the center of the continent, it is exposed to cold Arctic high-pressure air masses from the northwest during January and February. In the summer, air masses sometimes come out of the Southern United States, as warm humid air is drawn northward from the Gulf of Mexico. 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-40s. Carman, Manitoba holds the record for the highest humidex in Canada, with 53.0.
Southern Manitoba (including the city of Winnipeg), falls into the humid continental climate zone (Köppen DFC). This area is cold and windy in the winter and frequently experiences blizzards because of the openness of the landscape. Summers are warm with a moderate length, and this region is the most humid area in the prairie provinces with moderate precipitation. Southwestern Manitoba, though under the same climate classification as the rest of Southern Manitoba, is closer to the semi-arid interior of Palliser's Triangle. The area is drier and more prone to droughts than other parts of southern Manitoba. This area is cold and windy in the winter and frequently experiences blizzards because of the openness of the landscape. Summers are generally warm to hot, with low to moderate humidity.
Southern parts of the province, located just north of Tornado Alley, experience tornadoes each year, with 15 confirmed touchdowns in 2006. In 2007, on 22 and 23 June, numerous tornadoes touched down, the largest of which was an F5 Tornado that devastated parts of Elie (the strongest officially recorded tornado in Canada).
The northern sections of the province (including the city of Thompson) fall in the subarctic climate zone (Köppen climate classification Dfc). This region features long and extremely cold winters and brief, warm summers with little precipitation. Overnight temperatures as low as −40 °C (−40 °F) occur on several days each winter.
Manitoba is home to a diverse species of animals. The province is especially noted for its polar bear population; Churchill is commonly referred to as the "Polar Bear Capital". Other large animals, such as moose, deer, cougars, lynx, and wolves, are common throughout the province, especially in the provincial and national parks. There is a large population of garter snakes near Narcisse; the dens there are home to the largest concentration of snakes in the world. Manitoba has over 145 species of birds, including the great grey owl, the province's official bird, and the endangered peregrine falcon. Manitoba's lakes host 18 species of game fish, particularly species of trout, pike, and goldeye, as well as many smaller fish.
First Nations and European settlement
The geographical area of modern-day Manitoba was inhabited by the First Nations people shortly after the last ice age glaciers retreated in the southwest approximately 10,000 years ago; the first exposed land was the Turtle Mountain area. The Ojibwe, Cree, Dene, Sioux, Mandan, and Assiniboine peoples founded settlements, and other tribes entered the area to trade. In Northern Manitoba, quartz was mined to make arrowheads. The first farming in Manitoba was along the Red River, where corn and other seed crops were planted before contact with Europeans. The name "Manitoba" is likely derived from the languages of the Cree or Ojibwe, and means "strait of the Manitou (spirit)". It may also be from the Assiniboine for "Lake of the Prairie".
Great Britain secured the territory in 1763 as a result of their victory over France in the North American theatre of the Seven Years' War, better known as the French and Indian War in North America; lasting from 1754 to 1763. 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 British colonists and the Métis. Twenty colonists, including the governor, and one Métis were killed in the Battle of Seven Oaks in 1816. Thomas Spence attempted to be President of the Republic of Manitobah in 1867, that he and his council named.
At the 2011 census, Manitoba had a population of 1,208,268, more than half of which is in the Winnipeg Capital Region; Winnipeg is Canada's eighth-largest Census Metropolitan Area, with a population of 730,018 (2011 Census). Although initial colonization of the province revolved mostly around homesteading, the last century has seen a shift towards urbanization; Manitoba is the only Canadian province with over fifty-five percent of its population located in a single city.
According to the 2006 Canadian census, the largest ethnic group in Manitoba is English (22.9%), followed by German (19.1%), Scottish (18.5%), Ukrainian (14.7%), Irish (13.4%), North American Indian (10.6%), Polish (7.3%), Métis (6.4%), French (5.6%), Dutch (4.9%), and Russian (4.0%). Almost one-fifth of respondents also identified their ethnicity as "Canadian". There is a significant indigenous community: aboriginals (including Métis) are Manitoba's fastest-growing ethnic group, representing 13.6 percent of Manitoba's population as of 2001 (some reserves refused to allow census-takers to enumerate their populations). There is a significant Franco-Manitoban minority (148,370) and a growing aboriginal population (192,865, including the Métis). Gimli, Manitoba is home to the largest Icelandic community outside of Iceland.
Manitoba has a moderately strong economy based largely on natural resources. Its Gross Domestic Product was C$50.834 billion in 2008. The province's economy grew 2.4 percent in 2008, the third consecutive year of growth; in 2009, it neither increased nor decreased. The average individual income in Manitoba in 2006 was C$25,100 (compared to a national average of C$26,500), ranking fifth-highest among the provinces. As of October 2009, Manitoba's unemployment rate was 5.8 percent.
Manitoba's economy relies heavily on agriculture, tourism, energy, oil, mining, and forestry. Agriculture is vital and is found mostly in the southern half of the province, although grain farming occurs as far north as The Pas. Around 12 percent of Canadian farmland is in Manitoba. The most common type of farm found in rural areas is cattle farming (34.6%), followed by assorted 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 sources of potatoes. Portage la Prairie is a major potato processing center, and is home to the McCain Foods and Simplot plants, which provide French fries for McDonald's, Wendy's, and other commercial chains. Can-Oat Milling, one of the largest oat mills in the world, also has a plant in the municipality.
Manitoba's largest employers are government and government-funded institutions, including crown corporations and services like hospitals and universities. Major private-sector employers are The Great-West Life Assurance Company, Cargill Ltd., and James Richardson and Sons Ltd. Manitoba also has large manufacturing and tourism sectors. Churchill's Arctic wildlife is a major tourist attraction; the town is a world capital for polar bear and beluga whale watchers. Manitoba is the only province with an Arctic deep-water seaport, which links to the shortest shipping route between North America, Europe and Asia.
Government and politics
After the control of Rupert's Land was passed from Great Britain to the Government of Canada in 1869, Manitoba attained full-fledged rights and responsibilities of self-government as the first Canadian province carved out of the Northwest Territories. The Legislative Assembly of Manitoba was established on 14 July 1870. Political parties first emerged between 1878 and 1883, with a two-party system (Liberals and Conservatives). The United Farmers of Manitoba appeared in 1922, and later merged with the Liberals in 1932. Other parties, including the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), appeared during the Great Depression; in the 1950s, Manitoban politics became a three-party system, and the Liberals gradually declined in power. The CCF became the New Democratic Party of Manitoba (NDP), which came to power in 1969. Since then, the Conservatives and the NDP have been the dominant parties.
English and French are the official languages of the legislature and courts of Manitoba, according to §23 of the Manitoba Act, 1870 (part of the Constitution of Canada). In April 1890, the Manitoba legislature attempted to abolish the official status of French, and ceased to publish bilingual legislation. 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 (unilingual legislation was declared valid for a temporary period to allow time for translation).
Although French is an official language for the purposes of the legislature, legislation, and the courts, the Manitoba Act does not require it to be an official language for the purpose of the executive branch (except when performing legislative or judicial functions). Hence, Manitoba's government is not completely bilingual. The Manitoba French Language Services Policy of 1999 is intended to provide a comparable level of provincial government services in both official languages. According to the 2006 Census, 89.8 percent of Manitoba's population spoke only English, 0.2 percent spoke only French, 9.1 percent spoke both, and 0.9 percent spoke neither.
In 2010, the provincial government of Manitoba passed the Aboriginal Languages Recognition Act, which gives official recognition to seven indigenous languages: Cree, Dakota, Dene, Inuktitut, Michif, Ojibway and Oji-Cree.
There are five universities in Manitoba, regulated by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Literacy. Four of these universities are in Winnipeg: the University of Manitoba, the largest and most comprehensive; the University of Winnipeg, a liberal arts school primarily focused on undergrad studies located downtown; Université de Saint-Boniface, the province's only French-language university; and the Canadian Mennonite University, a religious-based institution. The Université de Saint-Boniface, established in 1818 and now affiliated with the University of Manitoba, is the oldest university in Western Canada. Brandon University, formed in 1899 and located in Brandon, is the province's only university not in Winnipeg.
Manitoba has thirty-eight public libraries; of these, twelve have French-language collections and eight have significant collections in other languages. Twenty-one of these are part of the Winnipeg Public Library system. The first lending library in Manitoba was founded in 1848.
Manitoba's culture has been influenced by both traditional (Aboriginal and Métis) and modern Canadian artistic values, as well as by the cultures of its immigrant populations and American neighbours. The Minister of Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport is responsible for promoting and, to some extent, financing Manitoban culture. Manitoba is the birthplace of the Red River Jig, a combination of aboriginal pow-wows and European reels that was popular among early settlers. Manitoba's traditional music has strong roots in Métis and Aboriginal culture, in particular the old-time fiddling of the Métis. Manitoba's cultural scene also incorporates classical European traditions. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB), based in Winnipeg, is Canada's oldest ballet and the longest continuously operating ballet company in North America; it was granted its royal title in 1953 under Queen Elizabeth II. The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO) performs classical music and new compositions at the Centennial Concert Hall. Manitoba Opera, founded in 1969, also performs out of the Centennial Concert Hall.
Festivals and museums
Festivals take place throughout the province, with the largest centred in Winnipeg. The inaugural Winnipeg Folk Festival was held in 1974 as a one-time celebration to mark Winnipeg’s 100th anniversary. Today, the five-day festival is one of the largest folk festivals in North America with over 70 acts from around the world and an annual attendance that exceeds 80,000. The Winnipeg Folk Festival’s home – Birds Hill Provincial Park – is located 34 kilometers outside of Winnipeg and for the five days of the festival, it becomes Manitoba’s third largest "city." The Festival du Voyageur is an annual ten-day event held in Winnipeg's French Quarter, and is Western Canada's largest winter festival. It celebrates Canada's fur-trading past and French-Canadian heritage and culture. Folklorama, a multicultural festival run by the Folk Arts Council, receives around 400,000 pavilion visits each year, of which about thirty percent are from non-Winnipeg residents. The Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival is an annual alternative theatre festival, the second-largest festival of its kind in North America (after the Edmonton International Fringe Festival).
Manitoban museums document different aspects of the province's heritage. The Manitoba Museum is the largest museum in Manitoba and focuses on Manitoban history from prehistory to the 1920s. The full-size replica of the Nonsuch is the museum's showcase piece. The Manitoba Children's Museum at The Forks presents exhibits for children. There are two museums dedicated to the native flora and fauna of Manitoba: the Living Prairie Museum, a tall grass prairie preserve featuring 160 species of grasses and wildflowers, and FortWhyte Alive, a park encompassing prairie, lake, forest and wetland habitats, home to a large herd of bison. The Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre houses the largest collection of marine reptile fossils in Canada. Other museums feature the history of aviation, marine transport, and railways in the area. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights will on completion be the first Canadian national museum outside of the National Capital Region.
Manitoba has three professional sports teams: the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (Canadian Football League), the Winnipeg Jets (National Hockey League), and the Winnipeg Goldeyes (American Association). The province was previously home to another team called the Winnipeg Jets, which played in the World Hockey Association and National Hockey League from 1972 until 1996, when financial troubles prompted a sale and move of the team, renamed the Phoenix Coyotes. The team returned as the Winnipeg Jets, after True North Sports & Entertainment bought the Atlanta Thrashers and was moved to Winnipeg in time for the 2011 hockey season. Manitoba has one major junior-level hockey team, the Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings, and one junior football team, the Winnipeg Rifles of the Canadian Junior Football League.
The province is represented in university athletics by the University of Manitoba Bisons, the University of Winnipeg Wesmen, and the Brandon University Bobcats. All three teams compete in the Canada West Universities Athletic Association (the regional division of Canadian Interuniversity Sport).
Curling is an important winter sport in the province with Manitoba producing more men's national champions than any other province, while additionally in the top 3 women's national champions, as well as multiple world champions in the sport. The province also hosts the world's largest curling tournament in the MCA Bonspiel. The province is regular host to Grand Slam events which feature as the largest cash events in the sport such as the annual Manitoba Lotteries Women's Curling Classic as well as other rotating events.
Though not as prominent as hockey and curling, long track speed skating also features as a notable and top winter sport in Manitoba as the province has produced some of the world's best female speed skaters including Susan Auch and the country's top Olympic medal earners Cindy Klassen who won the most Canadian Olympic medals in one Olympic Games ever, and Clara Hughes who tied with Klassen is the only Canadian to have won multiple medals in both the Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics.