(incorporated in 1972). St Boniface is located on the banks of the Red and Seine rivers in eastern Winnipeg. With St Vital and St Norbert, it is part of the Riel Community, one of five community committee areas in the Unicity government. The 3 wards of Riel Community offer bilingual municipal services. One councillor represents St Boniface on Winnipeg City Council. Its population is more than 45 000.
Fur traders and European mercenaries hired by Lord SELKIRK
to protect his fledgling RED RIVER COLONY
were among the area's first settlers. With the founding of a Roman Catholic mission (1818), St Boniface began its role in Canadian religious, political and cultural history - as mother parish for many French settlements in Western Canada; as the birthplace of Louis RIEL
and fellow Métis who struggled to obtain favourable terms for Manitoba's entry into Confederation; and as a focus of resistance to controversial 1890 legislation to alter Manitoba's school system and abolish French as an official language in the province (see MANITOBA SCHOOL QUESTION
Early educational, cultural and social-service institutions were started by religious orders, including the Sisters of Charity of Montréal (Grey Nuns) who arrived in 1844. The Collège de Saint-Boniface (dating back to 1818), a founding college of UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA, and St Boniface General Hospital grew from these institutions.
The early economy was oriented to agriculture. Union Stockyards, developed 1912-13, became the largest livestock exchange in Canada and focal point for a meat-packing and -processing industry. By the early 1900s, numerous light and heavy industries were established. St Boniface was incorporated as a town 1883 and a city 1908. As one of the larger French communities outside Québec, it has often been a centre of struggles to preserve French language and identity within Manitoba.
St Boniface is a residential, retail and industrial community. Despite difficult economic conditions and decline of the meat-packing industry including the gradual closing down of the Union Stockyards (in the 1980s), it still has a wide range of light and heavy industries, retail outlets and services. Headquartered in St Boniface, the Conseil de développement économique des municipalités bilingues du Manitoba promotes bilingual businesses throughout the city and the province. The ward is also the home of the Canadian Centre for Agri-Food Research in Health and Medicine located in the St Boniface General Hospital Research Centre. CN's Symington Yard has one of 20 intermodal terminals in North America.
Early church buildings have dominated the landscape of old St Boniface. St Boniface Basilica was rebuilt following a disastrous fire in 1968. The Provincial House of the Grey Nuns, built 1846-51, is now a museum. Collège de Saint-Boniface also suffered a fire in 1922 and was transferred into the Petit Séminaire de Saint-Boniface to which a number of wings were added to over the years. It is now known as the Collège universitaire de Saint-Boniface. Older sections of St Boniface have been the subject of urban revitalization programs as has the old Union Stockyards (more commonly known as the Public Markets) site. Community cultural organizations include French-language radio and TV stations; La Liberté
, a weekly newspaper; the Centre culturel franco-manitobain and Centre du patrimoine (Heritage Centre), whose buildings are interconnected; an arts centre; the annual winter Festival du Voyageur; and performing arts groups such as LE CERCLE MOLIÈRE
and Ensemble Folklorique de la Rivière Rouge.
Grey Nuns Convent, St Boniface
1846-51, St Boniface, Manitoba (Manitoba Culture, Heritage, and Citizenship; Historic Resources).
Precious Blood Church
Designed by Étienne Gaboury, located at St-Boniface, Manitoba (photo by Henry Kalen).
R.C. Wilson, ed, St Boniface, Manitoba, Canada 1818-1968 (1967).
Links to Other Sites
The official website for the City of Winnipeg.
The Société Historique de Saint-Boniface
The Heritage Centre conserves and promotes resources which have cultural, heritage, judicial, and historical value; the product of Francophone presence in Western Canada and Manitoba for over the past 250 years. Their website is a great source for information about Louis Riel, Le "Voyageur," and other Manitoba history topics.
The website for Travel Manitoba highlights popular tourist destinations and events throughout the province.
The Société franco-manitobaine supports and promotes programs that preserve and enhance French language and culture in Manitoba.
Public Markets Ltd.
A brief history of the Union Stock Yards, established by Public Markets Ltd. in the City of St. Boniface to provide a marketplace for Manitoba livestock producers. From the website for the University of Manitoba Libraries.
Centre culturel franco-manitobain
The website for the Centre culturel franco-manitobain , an organization that promotes French-Canadian culture in Manitoba. Check out the latest news about French language cultural activities around the province.
Red River Resistance
The text of a brochure which marks the 125th anniversary of Manitoba’s entry into Confederation. Offers a summary of the pivotal events of 1869-1970 and provides information on a number of sites in and around Winnipeg associated with the Resistance. From the website for the Manitoba Historical Society.
Agriculture in French Manitoba
This interactive exhibit features maps, images, and stories about the history of agriculture in French Manitoba.
St Boniface, Manitoba, former city and historic French community, now a municipal ward of the metropolitan government of the city of