Land and Resources

The regions of Manitoba are derived chiefly from its landforms. Since the final retreat of the continental ice sheet some 8000 years ago, many physical forces have shaped its surface into 4 major physiographic regions: the Hudson Bay lowland, Precambrian upland, Lake Agassiz lowland and Western upland.

Manitoba provides a corridor for the Red, Assiniboine, Saskatchewan, Nelson and Churchill rivers. Three large lakes, Winnipeg, Winnipegosis and Manitoba, cover much of the Lake Agassiz lowland. They are the remnants of Lake Agassiz, which occupied south-central Manitoba during the last ice age. The prolonged duration of this immense lake accounts for the remarkable flatness of one-fifth of the province, as 18-30 m of sediments were laid on the flat, preglacial surface.

Antecedent streams, such as the Assiniboine, Valley and Swan rivers, carved the southwestern part of the province (Western upland) into low plateaus of variable relief, which with the Agassiz lowland provide most of Manitoba's arable land. The Precambrian upland is composed of hard granite and other crystalline rocks that were subject to severe glacial scouring during the Ice Age; its thin soil, rock outcrop and myriad lakes in rock basins are inhospitable to agriculture but are amenable to hydroelectric power sites, freshwater fishing, metal mines and some forestry.

Flat sedimentary rocks underlie the Hudson Bay lowland, and the climate is extremely cold. Little development or settlement exists other than at Churchill, Manitoba's only saltwater port. A line drawn from southeastern Manitoba to Flin Flon on the western boundary separates the arable and well-populated section to the south and west from the sparsely inhabited wilderness to the north and east. The latter comprises about two-thirds of the area of the province.


Between 1682, when York Factory at the mouth of the Hayes River was established, and 1812, when the first Selkirk settlers came to Red River, settlement consisted of fur-trading posts established by the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), the North West Company and numerous independent traders. As agriculture spread along the banks of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, radiating from their junction, the Red River Colony was formed. In 1870 the British government paid the HBC $1.5 million for control of the vast territory of Rupert's Land and opened the way for the newly formed Dominion of Canada to create the first of 3 Prairie provinces. Manitoba in 1870 was little larger than the Red River valley, but by 1912 its current boundaries were set. Settlement of the new province followed the Dominion Lands Survey and the projected route of the national railway. The lands of the original province of Manitoba were granted to settlers in quarter-section parcels for homesteading purposes under the Dominion Lands Act of 1872.

The remainder of what is now Manitoba was still the North-West Territories at the time. After 1878 settlers could obtain grants of quarter-section parcels of land in those areas provided they managed to improve the land. By 1910 most of southern Manitoba and the Interlake and Westlake areas were settled. Railway branch lines brought most settlers within 48 km (30 mi) of a loading point from which grain could be shipped to world markets. Rural population peaked in 1941, followed by a steady decline resulting from consolidation of small holdings into larger farm units, retreat from the submarginal lands of the frontier because of long, cold winters and poor soils, and the attraction of the larger cities, especially Winnipeg.

Overpopulation of submarginal lands in the Interlake and the Westlake districts and along the contact zone with the Shield in the southeast caused a substantial shift from the farm to the city. Hamlets and small towns have shrunk or disappeared; large supply centres are more easily reached with modern motor vehicles, and children are bused to schools in larger towns and cities. Elimination of uneconomic railway branch lines also has left many communities without services.

Manitoba's population is disproportionately distributed between the "North" and the "South." A line drawn from lat 54° N (north of The Pas) to the southeast corner of the province sharply divides the continuous settled area, containing 95% of the people, from the sparsely populated north. Settlement of the north is confined to isolated fishing stations and mining towns, scattered native reserves and Churchill, a far north transshipment centre on the shores of Hudson Bay.


Hunting and trapping constitute Manitoba's oldest and today's smallest industry. For 200 years the HBC dominated trade in furs across western Canada as far as the Rocky Mountains. Alongside the fur trade, buffalo hunting developed into the first commercial return of the plains; native people, Métis and voyageurs traded meat, hides and pemmican, which became the staple food of the region.

Until 1875 the fur trade was the main business of Winnipeg, which was by then an incorporated city of 5000 and the centre of western commerce. In the city the retail/wholesale and real estate business grew in response to a new pattern of settlement and the development of agriculture. Red Fife wheat became the export staple that replaced the beaver pelt.

After the westward extension of the main CPR line in the 1880s, farmers and grain traders could expand into world markets and an east-west flow of trade began, with Winnipeg the "gateway" city. Over the next 20 years, this basically agricultural economy consolidated. Lumbering, necessary to early settlement, declined and flour mills multiplied.

During the boom years, 1897 to 1910, there was great commercial and industrial expansion, particularly in Winnipeg, and agriculture began to diversify. The following decades of depression, drought, labour unrest and 2 world wars sharpened the realization that the economy must diversify further to survive, and since WWII there has been modest growth and commercial consolidation.

Today, manufacturing leads all industrial groups, followed by agriculture, the production of hydroelectric power and mining. The primary industries (including electric power generation) represent about half of the total revenue derived from all goods-producing industries. Manufacturing and construction account for the rest.

Government and Politics

On 15 March 1871 the first legislature of Manitoba met for the first time; it consisted of an elected legislative assembly with members from 12 English and 12 French electoral districts, an appointed legislative council and an appointed executive council who advised the government head, Lieutenant-Governor Adams G. Archibald. When the assembly prorogued systems of courts, education and statutory law had been established, based on British, Ontarian and Nova Scotian models. The legislative council was abolished 5 years later.

Since 1871 the province has moved from communal representation to representation by population and from nonpartisan to party political government. Today the lieutenant-governor is still formal head of the provincial legislature and represents the Crown in Manitoba. The government is led by the premier, who chooses a Cabinet, whose members are sworn in as ministers of the Crown. Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition is customarily headed by the leader of the party winning the second-largest number of seats in a given election. Laws are passed by the unicameral legislative assembly, consisting of 57 elected members. See Premiers of Manitoba; Lieutenant-Governors of Manitoba.

The judiciary consists of the superior courts, where judges are federally appointed, and many lesser courts that are presided over by provincial judges. The RCMP is contracted to provide provincial police services and municipal services in some centres; provincial law requires cities and towns to employ enough police to maintain law and order. Manitoba is federally represented by 14 MPs and 6 senators.


The denominational school system was guaranteed by the Manitoba Act of 1870 and established by the provincial School Act of 1871: local schools, Protestant or Roman Catholic, might be set up on local initiative and administered by local trustees under the superintendence of the Protestant or Roman Catholic section of a provincial board of education. The board was independent of the government but received grants from it, which the sections divided among their schools. Until 1875 the grants were equal; disparity in the population and the ensuing Protestant attack on dualism in 1876 made it necessary to divide the grants on the basis of enrolment in each section.

After 1876 the British (predominantly Protestant) and French (Roman Catholic) coexisted peaceably and separately, until agitation against the perceived growing political power of the Catholic clergy spread west from Québec in 1889. A popular movement to abolish the dual system and the official use of French culminated in 1890 in the passage of 2 provincial bills. English became the only official language and the Public Schools Act was altered. Roman Catholics could have private schools supported by gifts and fees, but a new department of education, over local boards of trustees, was to administer nondenominational schools.

French Catholic objections to violations of their constitutional rights were ignored by the Protestant Ontarian majority, who saw a national school system as the crucible wherein an essentially British Manitoba would be formed. Intervention by the courts and the federal government eventually produced the compromise of 1897: where there were 40 (urban) or 10 (rural) Catholic pupils, Catholic teachers were to be hired; where at least 10 pupils spoke a language other than English, instruction was to be given in that language; school attendance was not compulsory, since Catholics were still outside the provincial system.

After 20 years of decreasing standards and linguistic chaos, the Public Schools Act was amended in 1916; the bilingual clause was removed and the new School Attendance Act made schooling compulsory for Catholics and Protestants alike, whether publicly or privately educated.

Since 1970, Franco-Manitobans can receive instruction entirely in French through the Français program; as well, non-French students in French immersion are taught all subjects in French. Instruction in a minority tongue in the majority of subjects is possible in some schools. Both English- and French-medium schools are organized in 48 school divisions, each administered by an elected school board, under the Department of Education.

In order to meet Manitoba's constitutional obligations and the linguistic and cultural needs of the Franco-Manitoban community, a new Francophone School Division was established and was in place for the 1994-95 school year.

There are 14 school districts, of which 6 are financed mainly from sources other than provincial grants and taxes; these include private schools sponsored by church organizations and by the federal government. School boards are responsible for maintaining and equipping schools, hiring teachers and support staff and negotiating salaries. The Manitoba Teachers Federation negotiates with the boards.

Cultural Life

To a large degree, Manitoba's cultural activities and historical institutions reflect the varied ethnic groups that comprise its fabric. The provincial government, through its Department of Culture, Heritage and Citizenship, subsidizes a wide range of cultural activities. Many annual festivals celebrate ethnic customs and history: the Icelandic Festival at Gimli, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, National Ukrainian Festival at Dauphin, Opasquia Indian Days and the Northern Manitoba Trappers' Festival at The Pas, Pioneer Days at Steinbach, Fête Franco-Manitobaine at La Broquerie, the midwinter Festival du voyageur in St Boniface, and Folklorama sponsored by the Community Folk Art Council in Winnipeg.

Manitoba's historic past is preserved by the Museum of Man and Nature (Winnipeg), considered one of the finest interpretive museums in Canada; by the Living Prairie Museum, a 12 ha natural reserve; by the St Boniface Museum, rich in artifacts from the Red River colony; and the Provincial Archives and Hudson's Bay Company Archives, all located in Winnipeg. Also in Winnipeg is the Planetarium, one of the finest in North America, and Assiniboine Park Zoo, which has a collection of more than 1000 animals.



The history of exploration in Manitoba did not begin in the south, but in the coldest and most remote area - the shores of Hudson Bay. A succession of navigators, Thomas Button (1612), Jens Munk (1619-20), and Luke Fox and Thomas James (1631), searched the shoreline for the Northwest Passage. Two French Canadian explorers interested in the fur trade, Médard Chouart Des Groseilliers and Pierre-Esprit Radisson, persuaded Charles II of England to establish the Hudson's Bay Co in 1670, granting it a huge territory (part of which is modern Manitoba), to be called Rupert's Land.

Trading posts were soon established along the shores: Fort Hayes (1682), Fort York (1648), Fort Churchill (1717-18), Prince of Wales Fort (1731). Henry Kelsey, an HBC employee, penetrated southwest across the prairies 1690-92. The La Vérendrye family travelled west via the Great Lakes, building Fort Maurepas on the Red River (1734), then 4 other posts within the present area of Manitoba. The subsequent invasion by independent traders of lands granted to the HBC stimulated an intense rivalry for pelts, which ended only with amalgamation of the HBC and the North West Co in 1821. About 20 forts existed at various times south of lat 54° N, but the early explorers left little permanent impression on the landscape.


The bedrock underlying the province varies from ancient Precambrian (Archean) to young sedimentary rocks of Tertiary age. The former has been identified as 2.7 billion years old, among the oldest on Earth, and forms part of the Canadian Shield, a U-shaped band of Precambrian rocks tributary to Hudson Bay. It consists principally of granites and granite gneisses in contact with volcanic rocks and ancient, metamorphosed sedimentary rocks. Contact zones often contain valuable minerals, including nickel, lead, zinc, copper, gold and silver - all of which are mined in Manitoba.

Along the flanks of and overlying the ancient Precambrian rocks are sedimentary rocks ranging from Palaeozoic to Tertiary age. The Lake Agassiz lowland comprises a surface cover of lacustrine sediments superimposed on early Palaeozoic rocks of Ordovician, Silurian and Devonian age, from which are mined construction limestone, gypsum, clay, bentonite, sand and gravel. In favourable structures petroleum has also been recovered from rocks of Mississippian age.

West of the Agassiz lowland rises an escarpment of Cretaceous rocks, which comprise the surface formations of the Western upland. For long periods the escarpment was the west bank of glacial Lake Agassiz. East-flowing rivers such as the Assiniboine, the Valley and the Swan once carried the meltwaters of retreating glaciers, eroding deep valleys (spillways) that opened into this lake. The former lake bottom and the former valleys of tributary streams were veneered with silts and clays, which today constitute the most fertile land in western Canada.

Both the Western upland and the bed of Lake Agassiz comprise the finest farmlands of Manitoba. In the southwest the geologic structures of the Williston Basin in North Dakota extend into Manitoba and yield small amounts of petroleum. A vast lowland resting on undisturbed Palaeozoic sediments lies between the Precambrian rocks of northern Manitoba and Hudson Bay. Adverse climate, isolation and poorly drained peat bogs make this region unsuitable for agriculture.


Minor terrain features of Manitoba were formed during the retreat of the Wisconsin Glacier at the close of the last ice age. The rocks of the Shield were severely eroded, leaving a marshy, hummocky surface threaded with a myriad of lakes, streams and bogs. Relief is rolling to hilly.

Much of the Agassiz lowland, the largest lacustrine plain in North America (286 000 km2), is suitable for irrigation. Much is so flat that it requires an extensive drainage system. Its margins are identified by beach ridges. The Western upland is now covered by glacial drift. Rolling ground moraine broken in places by hilly end moraines has a relief generally favourable to highly productive cultivated land.


Since southern Manitoba is lower than the regions to the west, east and south, the major rivers of western Canada flow into it. Including their drainage basins, these are the Saskatchewan River (334 100 km2); the Red (138 6002) and Assiniboine (160 600 km2) and Winnipeg rivers (106 500 km2). Lakes Winnipeg, Manitoba and Winnipegosis receive the combined flow of these basins. In turn the water drains into Hudson Bay via the Nelson River. These together with the Churchill, Hayes and other rivers provide a hydroelectric potential of 8360 MW.

Climate, Vegetation and Soil

Situated in the upper middle latitudes (49° N to 60° N) and at the heart of a continental landmass, Manitoba experiences large annual temperature ranges: very cold winters and moderately warm summers. The southward sweep of cold, dry arctic and maritime polar air masses in winter is succeeded by mild, humid maritime tropical air in summer. Nearly two-thirds of the precipitation occurs during the 6 summer months, the remainder appearing mostly as snow. The frost-free period varies greatly according to local conditions, but as a general rule the average 100-day frost-free line extends from Flin Flon southeast to the corner of the province.

Spring comes first to the Red River valley, which has a frost-free period of about 120 days, and spreads to the north and west. As a result, the mean number of growing degree days (above 5° C) varies from 2000 to 3000 within the limits defined. Snowfall tends to be heaviest in the east and diminishes westward. Around Winnipeg the average snowfall is 126 cm per year. Fortunately, 60% of the annual precipitation accompanies the peak growing period for grains: May, June and July. Late August and early September are dry, favouring the harvest of cereal grains.

Subarctic conditions prevail over northern Manitoba. Churchill occupies a position on Hudson Bay where abnormally cold summers are induced by sea temperatures. Manitoba's climate is best understood with reference to air masses. During the winter, low temperatures and humidities are associated with the dominance of continental Arctic and continental Pacific air. During spring abrupt seasonal changes introduce maritime tropical air from the south, which is unstable and warm. The usual sequence of midlatitude "lows" and "highs" brings frequent daily temperature changes. Some Pacific air moves east, moderating at intervals the extreme cold of winter.

Manitoba's natural vegetation ranges from open grassland and aspen in the south to mixed forest in the centre, typical boreal forest in the north and bush-tundra by Hudson Bay. In the south high evaporation rates discourage the growth of trees, which are replaced by prairie. Both tall-grass and mixed-grass species were extensive before settlement. Elm, ash and Manitoba maple grow along stream courses, and oak grows on dry sites. With increase in latitude and reduced evaporation, mixed broadleaf forest replaces parkland.

The northern half of the province is characteristically boreal forest, consisting of white and black spruce, jack pine, larch, aspen and birch.

This pattern continues with decreasing density nearly to the shores of Hudson Bay, where the cold summers and short growing period discourage all but stunted growth of mainly spruce and willow and tundra types of moss, lichens and sedges. Spruce, fir and pine are processed for lumber and pulp and paper products. Large mills are found at Pine Falls (newsprint), The Pas (lumber and pulp and paper) and Swan River (oriented standboard).

In general the province's soil types correlate closely with the distribution of natural vegetation. The following soil descriptions are in order of decreasing agricultural value. The most productive are the black soils (chernozems), corresponding to the once dominant prairie grassland of the Red River valley and southwestern Manitoba. They differ in texture from fine in the former to medium in the latter. Coarse black soils are found in the old Assiniboine delta and the Souris Valley, the former extending from Portage la Prairie to Brandon. Sand dunes are evident in places.

In areas of transition to mixed forest, degraded black soils and grey-wooded soils are common, notably in the area from Minnedosa to Russell south of Riding Mountain. Large areas of the former Lake Agassiz, where drainage is poor, are termed "degraded renzina" because of high lime accumulation. Soils derived from the hard granites and other rocks of the Shield, typically covered with coniferous forest, are described as grey wooded, podsol and peat; they are rated inferior for agriculture.


Manitoba's principal resource is fresh water. Of the 10 provinces it ranks third, with 101 590 km2 in lakes and rivers, one-sixth its total area. The largest lakes are Winnipeg (24 387 km2), Winnipegosis (5374 km2) and Manitoba (4624 km2). Other freshwater lakes of more than 400 km2 are Southern Indian, Moose, Cedar, Island, Gods, Cross, Playgreen, Dauphin, Granville, Sipiwesk and Oxford. Principal rivers are the Nelson, which drains Lake Winnipeg, and the Red, Assiniboine, Winnipeg, Churchill and Hayes. Lake Winnipeg is the only body of water used today for commercial transportation, but the Hayes, Nelson, Winnipeg, Red and Assiniboine rivers were important during the fur trade and early settlement eras.

The network of streams and lakes today is a source of developed and potential hydroelectric power; its installed generating capacity is 4498 MW. Possessing 70% of the hydroelectric potential of the Prairie region, Manitoba promises to become the principal contributor to an electric grid that will serve Saskatchewan and Alberta as well as neighbouring states of the US.

Flooding along the Red River and its principal tributaries, the Souris and Assiniboine, has affected towns as well as large expanses of agricultural land. Major flood-control programs have been undertaken, beginning with the Red River Floodway and control structures completed in 1968. A 48 km diversion ditch protects Winnipeg from periodic flooding. Upstream from Portage la Prairie a similar diversion was built between the Assiniboine River and Lake Manitoba. Associated control structures include the Shellmouth Dam and Fairford Dam. Towns along the Red River are protected by dikes.

Agricultural land is the province's second major resource, with over 4 million ha in field crops in addition to land used for grazing and wild hay production. Based on "census value added," agriculture leads by far all other resource industries; mining follows in third place after hydroelectric power generation. Nickel, copper, zinc and gold account for about three-quarters by value of all minerals produced. The fuels, mainly crude petroleum, are next, followed by cement, sand, gravel and construction stone. Of the nonmetallics, peat and gypsum are important.

Most of Manitoba's productive forestland belongs to the Crown. The volume of wood cut averages 1 600 000 m3 annually, from which lumber, plywood, pulp and paper are produced. Manitoba's freshwater lakes yield large quantities of fish; the leading species by value are pickerel, whitefish, perch and sauger. Hunting and trapping support many native people.

Conservation of resources has been directed mainly to wildlife. Fur-bearing animals are managed through trapping seasons, licensing of trappers and registered traplines. Hunting is managed through the Wildlife Act, which has gone through a series of revisions since 1870. The Endangered Species Act (1990) enables protection of a wider variety of species.

In 1961 a system of wildlife management areas was established and now consists of 73 tracts of crown land encompassing some 32 000 km2 to provide protection and management of Manitoba's biodiversity. Manitoba is on the staging route of the North American Flyway and these wildlife areas protect land which many migratory birds use.

Hunting of all species of game is closely managed and special management areas have been established to provide increased protection for some game, nongame and endangered species and habitats. Hunting and fishing are also closely managed in provincial parks and forest reserves.

Forest conservation includes fire protection, insect control, controlled cutting and reforestation programs. Surveillance of forest land by aircraft and from numerous widely dispersed fire towers reduces significantly the incidence and spread of forest fires. Insects and disease are controlled by aerial spraying, tree removal and regulated burning. Among the more virulent pests are jack pine budworm, spruce budworm, aspen tortrix, forest tent caterpillar and birch beetle. Winnipeg is fighting desperately to contain dutch elm disease.

Each year millions of seedlings, mainly jack pine, red pine and white spruce, are planted for reforestation. To ensure future supplies of commercial timber, operators must make annual cuttings by management units on a sustained yield basis.

Riding Mountain National Park, on the Manitoba escarpment, was the province's only national park until 1996 when Wapusk National Park near Churchill was established. Manitoba has over 100 provincial parks of various types. The natural and recreational parks are the most commonly used and include Whiteshell Provincial Park in the west and Duck Mountain in the east. The province's first wilderness park, Atikaki, was opened in 1985 and is Manitoba's largest park.

The Manitoba Fisheries Enhancement Initiative was announced in 1993 to fund projects that protect or improve fish stocks or enhance the areas where fish live. Projects have included rock riffles for fish spawning, artificial walleye spawning shoals, stream bank protection and habitat enhancement and a fish way. The FEI encourages cooperation with other government and nongovernment agencies. This ensures that fisheries values are incorporated in other sectors; eg, agriculture, forestry and highways.

Urban Centres

Until 1941 the rural population component exceeded the urban. The rural population subsequently declined in absolute and relative terms until 2001, when it was 28% of the total. "Rural" includes farm and nonfarm residents and people living in towns and hamlets that have populations under 1000.

Centres designated as "urban" (more than 1000) now comprise 72% of the total. Almost 77% of the urban total live in Winnipeg, which together with its satellite, Selkirk, accounts for nearly 60% of the total provincial population.

Winnipeg began in the shadow of Upper Fort Garry. In the 1860s free traders, in defiance of the HBC monopoly, located there and competed for furs. After 1870 the tiny village rapidly became a commercial centre for the Red River colony. Located at "the forks" of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, it commanded water and land travel from the west, south and north and became the northern terminus of the railway from St Paul, Minn, in 1878.

Following the decision to have the Canadian Pacific Railway cross the Red River at Winnipeg (1881), the centre became the apex of a triangular network of rail lines that drew commerce from Alberta eastward, and it eventually became a crossroads for east-west air traffic. Since World War II Winnipeg has experienced modest growth and commercial consolidation in a reduced hinterland. It is the provincial centre of the arts, education, commerce, finance, transportation and government.

Although Winnipeg's pre-eminence is unchallenged, certain urban centres dominate local trading areas. Brandon, Manitoba's second city, is a distribution and manufacturing centre for the southwest, as is the smaller Portage la Prairie, set in the Portage plains, one of the richest agricultural tracts in the province. In the north, Thompson and Flin Flon service the mining industry.

The major towns of Selkirk, Dauphin and The Pas were founded as fur-trading forts and today serve as distribution centres for their surrounding communities. Lynn Lake, Leaf Rapids and Bissett are small northern mining centres.

A network of smaller towns in southwestern Manitoba fits the "central place theory" modified by the linear pattern of rail lines emanating from Winnipeg. Grain elevators approximately every 48 km (30 mi) became the nuclei of hamlets and towns. Eventually, with the advent of motor transport, branch lines were eliminated, and with them many place names that once stood for thriving communities. The present pattern is a hierarchy of central places, from hamlets to regional centres, competing to supply a dwindling farm population.

Demographic Trends

Since 1961 Manitoba's population growth has been slow but steady, rising from 921 686 in 1961 to 1 119 583 in 2001, despite a fairly constant amount of natural increase of 6000 to 7000 per year. The significant factor in population growth during this period has been migration. During periods of economic health, Manitobans have been less likely to move away, and in fact often return home from other provinces. When the economy is in decline, Manitobans tend to migrate, primarily to Ontario and to the other western provinces.

These cyclical periods, normally 3 to 5 years, either negated or enhanced the natural population growth so the population has experienced short periods of growth followed by short periods of decline, resulting in very slow overall population growth.

Labour Force

The labour participation rate (5-year average 2000-04) is higher for men (74.9%) than for women (62.2%), although the figure for women has increased steadily since the latter part of the 20th century. The unemployment rate was also higher for men (5.3%) than for women (4.8%). When Winnipeg is considered separately, its unemployment rate was slightly higher (5.3%) than in the rural areas (4.6%) and to the provincial average (5.1%). Compared with other provinces, Manitoba has had one of the lowest unemployment rates over the last 25 years.

Manitoba's largest employers of labour by industry are trade (85 200), manufacturing 69 100 and health care and social assistance (78 000). The annual average annual income for individuals in Manitoba in 2001 was $28 400, about 90% of the national average of $31 900.


The dominant "mother tongue" in 2001 was English (73.9%). Other prevalent languages are German, French and Ukrainian and Aboriginal languages. The concentration of those reporting their "mother tongue" as English is higher in urban centres than in rural areas. The reverse is true for French, Ukrainian and German, the latter mainly because of the large Mennonite farming population. In 1870 the Manitoba Act gave French and English equal status before the courts and in the legislature. In 1890 a provincial act made English the only official language of Manitoba. This act was declared ultra vires in 1979, and since 1984 the provincial government has recognized both English and French as equal in status.

In schools the Français program provides instruction entirely in French for Franco-Manitobans and the French-immersion program gives all instruction in French to students whose mother tongue is not French. Some schools offer instruction in the majority of subjects in a minority tongue, eg, Polish, Ukrainian, German.

The mother tongues of native peoples are Ojibway, Cree, Dene and Dakota. The native people of the north speak mainly Cree; Ojibway is the mother tongue of most bands in the south, although English is most often spoken.

Ethnic Composition

Manitoba contains a large diversity of ethnic origins. Most Manitobans trace their ancestries to one or more of the following ethnic groups: British, Canadian, German, Aboriginal, Ukrainian, and French. British descendants have decreased proportionately since 1921; numerically they are strongest in urban areas, whereas the minorities are relatively more numerous in rural areas. The distribution of the larger ethnic groups, especially in rural areas, is related to the history of settlement. In the 2001 census, about 8% of the population listed their sole ethnic origin as Aboriginal. There are also significant populations of those who listed Polish, Dutch, Filipino, Russian and Icelandic ancestries.

The Mennonites (German and Dutch) are concentrated in the southern Red River valley around Altona, Steinbach and Winkler; Ukrainians and Poles live in the Interlake district and along the frontier. Many French live south of Winnipeg close to the Red River. Those of Icelandic origin are found around the southwestern shore of Lake Winnipeg. The Filipino population is concentrated in Winnipeg. First Nations live mainly on scattered reserves, primarily in central and northern Manitoba, although some have moved to a very different lifestyle in Winnipeg.


To some extent religious denominations reflect the pattern of ethnicity. Three groups comprise about half of the population (2001c): United Church (16%), Roman Catholic (26.5%) and Anglican (7.8%). Most Ukrainians are members of the Ukrainian Catholic (2.7%) and Orthodox (1.0%) churches. Those of German and Scandinavian backgrounds support mainly the Lutheran faith (4.6%), and 4.7% are Mennonite. Nearly 19% of the population claimed to have no affiliation with any religion.


Agriculture plays a prominent role in the provincial economy. There are diverse sources of income from agriculture. In 1997 farm cash receipts for crops amounted to $1.7 billion compared with livestock at $1.2 billion. Wheat cash receipts are 4 times those from barley and oats combined. Hay crops are important because of a secondary emphasis on livestock production.

Cash receipts from livestock were highest from hogs ($478 million), followed by cattle ($301 million), dairy products, poultry and eggs. Wheat is grown throughout southern Manitoba, primarily where there are medium- to fine-textured black soils, especially in the southwest. Barley used as prime cattle feed is tolerant of a range of climatic conditions, but is intensively grown south and north of Riding Mountain and in the Swan River valley. Canola, used as a vegetable oil and as high-protein cattle feed, is also grown throughout the province. In the late 1990s, its importance rivalled that of wheat. Prime malting barley prefers the parkland soils and cooler summer temperatures. Cultivation of oats is general and concentrated in areas of livestock farming; it is frequently tolerant of less productive soil. Flax is grown mostly in the southwest on black soil, and canola is significant on the cooler lands near the outer margin of cultivation.

Specialized crops, including sugar beets, sunflowers, corn (for both grain and silage) and canning vegetables are concentrated in the southern Red River valley, where heating degree days are at a maximum and soil texture is medium. Beef cattle are raised on most farms in western Manitoba but are less important in the Red River valley.

Dairy cattle are raised mainly in the cooler marginal lands, which extend in a broad arc from the southeast to the Swan River valley. Poultry is heavily concentrated in the Red River valley, but hogs have a much wider distribution, influenced by a surplus of barley and fresh milk. Market gardening occupies good alluvial soil around Winnipeg and the Red River, from which water is obtained for irrigation during dry periods.

Neighbouring farmers set up cooperatives, which vary in scope and purpose from the common purchase of land and machinery to processing and marketing members' products. Two large cooperatives, Manitoba Pool Elevators and United Grain Growers, were founded to handle and market grain, and now deal in livestock and oilseeds and provide members with reasonably priced farm supplies. Manitoba's 8 marketing boards are producer bodies that control stages in the marketing of specific commodities. Wheat, oats and barley for export must be sold to the national Canadian Wheat Board.

Agriculture is never likely to expand beyond the limits imposed by shortness of growing season (less than 90 days frost-free) and the poor podsolic soils associated with the Shield. Plans for irrigating the southwestern Red River valley, known as the Pembina Triangle, are under study. Periodic flooding of the upper Red River (south of Winnipeg) has damaged capital structures and reduced income. Approximately 880 000 ha of farmland are under drainage, mostly in the Red River Valley and the Interlake and Westlake districts. The Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act encourages conservation of water through check dams and dugouts.


Mining contributed $1 billion to the provincial economy in 1996. Of Manitoba's income from all minerals, over 80% is derived from metals, chiefly nickel, copper, zinc, cobalt and gold, with minor amounts of precious metals. All metals are found in the vast expanse of Canadian Shield.

Diminishing amounts of petroleum are recovered from sedimentary rocks of Mississippian age in the southwest corner of the province near Virden and Tilston. Industrial minerals, principally quarried stone, gravel and sand, account for 8%. The famous Tyndall stone is a mottled dolomitic limestone quarried near Winnipeg and distributed across Canada. Gypsum is mined in the Interlake district near Gypsumville and in the Westlake area near Amaranth. Silica sand comes from Black Island in Lake Winnipeg.

Manitoba's most productive metal mines are at Thompson. Reputed to be the largest integrated (mining, smelting and refining) operation in North America, Thompson accounts for all of Manitoba's nickel production. The province's oldest mining area, dating from 1930, is at Flin Flon; along with its satellite property at Snow Lake, it is a major producer of copper and zinc and small amounts of gold and silver. Other major centres include Lynn Lake, where until 1989 copper and nickel were mined and now gold has taken their place, and Leaf Rapids, where nickel and copper are mined.


Other than a small amount of petroleum, the province's resources in energy are derived from hydroelectric power. Thermal plants depend mostly on low-grade coal imported from Estevan, Sask, and on diesel fuel. Manitoba Hydro, a crown corporation, is the principal authority for the generation, development and distribution of electric power, except for Winnipeg's inner core, which is served by Winnipeg Hydro, a civic corporation. Hydro power plants were first built along the Winnipeg River and 6 of these plants still operate.

The availability of cheap power within 100 km of Winnipeg has made the city attractive to industry for many years. Since 1955 hydroelectric development has been expanding in the north. In 1960 a plant was commissioned at Kelsey on the Nelson River, and in 1968 the Grand Rapids plant was built near the mouth of the Saskatchewan River. Increased demand led to the construction of 4 additional plants on the Nelson: Jenpeg, Kettle Rapids, Long Spruce and Limestone. Downstream another plant at Limestone with a 1330 MW capacity, the largest in Manitoba, was completed by 1992. In addition, 2 thermal plants powered by coal from Estevan are located at Brandon and Selkirk; they supplement hydro sources at peak load times.

Installed generating capacity in 1994 was 4912 MW with a further hydro potential of 5260 MW. Manitoba sells surplus power, mostly during the summer period, to Ontario, Saskatchewan, Minnesota and North Dakota. Its transmission and distribution system exceeds 76 000 km. Manitoba Hydro serves some 400 000 customers and Winnipeg serves another 90 000, who consumed 27 102 GWh in 1993. Natural gas from Alberta, which is used mainly for industrial and commercial heating, supplies one-third of Manitoba's energy requirements.


In its primary stage (logging), forestry accounts for very little of the value of goods-producing industries. The most productive forestlands extend north from the agricultural zone to lat 57° N; north and east of this line timber stands are sparse and the trees are stunted, gradually merging with tundra vegetation along the shores of Hudson Bay. The southern limit is determined by the northward advance of commercial agriculture. On the basis of productivity for forestry, 40% of the total provincial land area is classified as "productive," 29% as nonproductive and over 30% as nonforested land.

Of the total productive forestland of 152 000 km2, 94% is owned by the provincial government. From 1870 to 1930 lands and forests were controlled by the federal government; after the transfer of natural resources in 1930, the province assumed full responsibility. In 1930 there were 5 forest reserves; today there are 15 provincial forests totalling more than 22 000 km2.

In order of decreasing volume, the most common commercial tree species are black spruce, jack pine, trembling aspen (poplar), white spruce, balsam poplar and white birch. Other species common to Manitoba include balsam fir, larch, cedar, bur oak, white elm, green ash, Manitoba maple and red and white pine.

Timber-cutting practices are restricted around roads, lakes and rivers. The government proposes annual cuts for each management unit on a sustained yield basis. In addition to its reforestation program, the government provides planting stock to private landowners for shelterbelts and Christmas trees.


The commercial inland fishery has been active in Manitoba for over 100 years. Water covers nearly 16% of Manitoba, of which an estimated 57 000 km2 is commercially fished. Two-thirds of the total catch comes from the 3 major lakes - Winnipeg, Manitoba and Winnipegosis - and the balance is taken from the numerous smaller northern lakes. The total value of the 1997-98 catch was $15 million. The catch is delivered to 70 lakeside receiving stations located throughout the province and then transported to the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation's central processing plant in Winnipeg. All the commercial catch is processed at this plant. The US and Europe account for most of the corporation's annual sales.

Thirteen commercial species, dressed and filleted, include whitefish, pike, walleye and sauger. Sauger, pike, walleye, trout and catfish are principal sport fish. The Manitoba Department of Natural Resources maintains hatcheries for pickerel, whitefish and trout.


Today, Manitoba has a firm base in its processing and manufacturing industries, as shown by the value of production: over 61 000 people were employed in producing nearly $11 billion (1998) worth of goods. About two-thirds of the value of industrial production comes from the following industries: food processing, distilling, machinery (especially agricultural); irrigation and pumps; primary metals, including smelting of nickel and copper ores, metal fabricating and foundries; airplane parts, motor buses, wheels and rolling-stock maintenance; electrical equipment; computers and fibre optics.

There are also the traditional industries: meat packing, flour milling, petroleum refining, vegetable processing, lumber, pulp and paper, printing and clothing. Winnipeg accounts for 75% of the manufacturing shipments. Half of all manufactured goods are exported, one-third to foreign countries.


Winnipeg's strongest asset has always been its location. In the heart of Canada and at the apex of the western population-transportation triangle, this city historically has been a vital link in all forms of east-west transportation.

The York boats of the fur trade and the Red River carts of early settlers gave way first to steamboats on the Red River, then to the great railways of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Subsequently, Winnipeg provided facilities for servicing all land and air carriers connecting east and west. Today, rail and road join the principal mining centres of northern Manitoba. During the long, cold winter, the myriad of interconnected lakes creates a network of winter roads. Major northern centres are linked to the south via trunk highways. The Department of Highways manages over 73 000 km of trunk highways and 10 700 km of provincial roads (mainly gravel).

Since 1926 bush flying has made remote communities accessible; several small carriers serve the majority of northern communities. Transcontinental routes of Air Canada and Canadian Airlines International pass through Winnipeg and Greyhound Air began flying between Ottawa and Vancouver with a stop in Winnipeg in the summer of 1996. NWT Air connects Winnipeg with Yellowknife and Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. Canadian Airlines International serves northern Manitoba with its partner CALM Air. Perimeter Airlines also serves northern points.

Air Canada operates daily flights south to Chicago, Ill, connected with the United Airlines network; and Northwest Airlines provides service to Minneapolis, Minn. Canadian Airlines International, Air Canada and charter airlines, Canada 3000 and Royal, provide direct flights from Winnipeg to Europe and various winter sunspot vacation destinations.

Because Winnipeg is Canada's principal midcontinent rail centre, both CNR and CPR have extensive maintenance facilities and marshalling yards in and around the city. Wheat has the largest freight volume, but diverse products from petroleum and chemicals to motor cars and lumber are transported by rail. The CNR owns Symington Yards, one of the largest and most modern marshalling yards in the world. At Transcona it maintains repair and servicing shops for rolling stock and locomotives, and at Gimli, a national employee training centre. In addition to repair shops and marshalling yards, the CPR has a large piggyback terminal; Weston shops, one of 3 in its trans-Canada system, employs some 2500 people.

Via Rail operates Canada's passenger train service, which uses the lines of the 2 major railways and provides direct service between Vancouver and Halifax and Saint John.

In 1929 the Hudson Bay Railway, now part of the CNR system, was completed to the port of Churchill, where today major transshipment facilities handle on average annually some 290 000 t of grain between July 20 and October 31. Formerly an army base, Churchill is also a research centre and a supply base for eastern arctic communities.

Local Government

Local government is provided by a system of municipalities. Manitoba has 5 incorporated cities (Winnipeg, Brandon, Selkirk, Portage la Prairie and Thompson), 35 incorporated towns and 40 incorporated villages. (An incorporated municipality has a greater degree of autonomy, especially in taxing and borrowing power.) There are over 100 rural municipalities ranging in size from 4 to 22 townships, many of which contain unincorporated towns and villages. Locally elected councils are responsible for maintaining services and administering bylaws.

In remote areas where population is sparse, the government has established 17 local government districts with an appointed administrator and an elected advisory council. The Department of Northern Affairs has jurisdiction over remote areas in northern Manitoba and uses the community council as an advisory body. Community councils are elected bodies, mostly in Métis settlements, through which the government makes grants. Each has a local government "coordinator" to represent the government.

Public Finance

For the fiscal year ending 31 March 1998, the province had revenues of $5.8 billion and expenditures of $5.7 billion. Income taxes garnered $1.6 billion and other taxes, including a 7% sales tax and gasoline and resources taxes, totalled another $1.6 billion. Unconditional transfer payments and shared-cost receipts from federal sources covering education, health and economic development were $1.7 billion. More than 50% of government expenditures go toward education, health and social services.

Health and Welfare

The Manitoba Health Services Commission, with generous support from Ottawa, provides nonpremium medical care for all its citizens. A pharmacare program pays 80% of the cost of all prescription drugs above $75 ($50 for senior citizens). The province and Winnipeg each have a free dental care program for all elementary-school children.

The departments of Health and of Community Services and Corrections provide services in public and mental health, social services, probations and corrections. The government is responsible for provincial correction and detention facilities and through the Alcoholism Foundation administers drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities.

Manitoba has over 80 provincially supported hospitals, including 10 in Winnipeg, and over 100 personal care homes in addition to elderly persons' housing. Winnipeg is an important centre for medical research; its Health Sciences Centre includes Manitoba's chief referral hospitals and a number of specialist institutions, among them the Children's Centre and the Manitoba Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation.


While Manitoba's system of responsible government was maturing during the 1870s, communal loyalties rather than party politics dominated public representation. As the 1880s advanced, however, a strong Liberal opposition to John Norquay's nonpartisan government developed under Thomas Greenway. After the election of 1888, Greenway's Liberals formed Manitoba's first declared partisan government until defeated in 1899 (on issues of extravagance and a weak railway policy) by an invigorated Conservative Party under Hugh John Macdonald. When Macdonald resigned in 1900, hoping to return to federal politics, R.P. Roblin became premier, a position he held until 1915, when a scandal over the contracting of the new legislative buildings brought down the government in its fifth term.

In 1920, against the incumbent Liberal government of T.C. Norris, the United Farmers of Manitoba first entered provincial politics and returned 12 members to the legislative assembly, heralding a new era of nonpartisan politics. The promise was fulfilled in the election of 1922, when the UFM won a modest majority and formed the new government. Manitoba was returning to its roots, reaffirming rural virtues of thrift, sobriety and labour to counter rapid change, depression and the aftereffects of war.

The farmers chose John Bracken as their leader, and he remained premier until 1943 despite the UFM withdrawal from politics in 1928. Bracken then formed a coalition party, the Liberal-Progressives, which won a majority in the assembly in 1932, but only gained a plurality in the 1936 election, surviving with Social Credit support. He continued as premier in 1940 over a wartime government of Conservative, Liberal-Progressive, CCF and Social Credit members.

Bracken became leader of the federal Conservatives in 1943 and was replaced by Stuart S. Garson. In 1945 the CCF left the coalition, the Conservatives left it in 1950 and the Social Credit Party simply faded. From 1948 the coalition was led by Premier Douglas Campbell, although after 1950 it was predominantly a Liberal government.

From 1958 the Conservatives under Duff Roblin governed the province until Edward Schreyer's NDP took over in 1969 with a bare majority. His government survived 2 terms; during its years in office, many social reforms were introduced and government activity in the private sector was expanded.

In 1977 Sterling Lyon led the Conservative Party to victory on a platform of reducing the provincial debt and returning to free enterprise, but his government lasted only one term. In 1981 the NDP returned to power under Howard Pawley. They were re-elected in 1985. The Lyon government, in fact, was the only one-term government in Manitoba's history to that time, as the political tradition of the province has been notable for its long-term stability, particularly during the era of the UFM and later coalition governments.

Pawley's NDP were ousted in 1988 when Gary Filmon led the Conservatives to an upset minority victory. Filmon's government was precarious, and the Liberal opposition was extremely vocal in its opposition to the Meech Lake Accord (see Meech Lake Accord: Document). Debate over the accord dominated the provincial agenda and was finally killed by procedural tactics led by NDP native MLA Elijah Harper. Filmon went to the polls immediately following the death of the accord in 1990 and eked out a slim majority victory. This majority enabled Filmon to finally dictate the legislative agenda, and he began concentrating his government's efforts at bringing the province's rising financial debt under control. His government's success in this endeavour won Filmon an increased majority in April 1995.


In 1994 enrolment in the elementary/secondary schools of the province totalled 221 610, and 14 500 teachers were employed, of which 12 675 were full-time. Elementary schools consist of kindergarten through grades 1 to 8. Secondary schools, grades 9 to 12, have varied curriculum with core subjects and several options.

Special, practically oriented programs are available at 35 vocational-industrial schools, and vocational-business training is given in 106 schools. There are also special services for the disabled, the blind, the deaf and those with learning disabilities.

Community colleges provide a wide variety of career-oriented adult educational and vocational programs, and day, evening and extension programs - full-time and part-time - are offered in more than 120 communities. Assiniboine Community College operates in and outside Brandon. Responsible for all community college agricultural training in the province, it offers 16 certificate courses and 11 diploma courses. Keewatin College offers 16 certificate courses of one year or less, and 4 diploma courses, mostly in northern Manitoba. Red River College, located in Winnipeg, provides 33 diploma courses as well as 28 certificate courses, including courses in applied arts, business administration, health services, industrial arts and technology.

During 1993-94 there were 3900 full-time and 1646 part-time students enrolled in community colleges in Manitoba. The community colleges, previously operated by the province, were incorporated under appointed boards of governors in April 1993. The community colleges are now funded by an annual grant from the province. Manitoba spent over $54 million on community colleges in 1993-94.

In 1877 St Boniface (French, Roman Catholic), St John's (Anglican) and Manitoba (Presbyterian) united as University of Manitoba. Later, they were joined by other colleges, but in 1967 a realignment of the constituents resulted in 3 distinct universities. The University of Manitoba is one of the largest universities in Canada, with numerous faculties and with 4 affiliated colleges that provide instruction in French: St John's and St Paul's (Roman Catholic), St Andrew's (Ukrainian Orthodox) and St Boniface, which is the only college providing instruction entirely in French. In 1994-95, 17 905 full-time and 6062 part-time students were enrolled at the U of Man.

Brandon University offers undergraduate programs in arts, science, education and music and masters degrees in education and music, with an enrolment of 1541 full-time and 1956 part-time students (1994-95). The University of Winnipeg, located in central Winnipeg, provides primarily undergraduate instruction, teacher training and theological studies for 2679 full-time and 7387 part-time students (1994-95). Teachers are trained at all 3 universities and at Red River College.

The Arts

The Manitoba Arts Council promotes the study, enjoyment, production and performance of works in the arts. It assists organizations involved in cultural development; offers grants, scholarships and loans to Manitobans for study and research; and makes awards to individuals. The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Manitoba Theatre Centre, Le Cercle Molière, Manitoba Opera Association, Manitoba Contemporary Dancers and Rainbow Stage all contribute to Winnipeg's position as a national centre of the performing arts.

Among well-known and respected Manitoban writers are the novelists Margaret Laurence and Gabrielle Roy, essayist, historian and poet George Woodcock and popular historian Barry Broadfoot. The Winnipeg Art Gallery, in addition to traditional and contemporary works, houses the largest collection of Inuit art in the world.

Historic Sites

Among the fine historic sites associated with the settlement of the West is the HBC'sLower Fort Garry. Situated on the Red River 32 km northeast of Winnipeg, this oldest intact stone fort in western Canada was built in 1832 and preserves much of the atmosphere of the Red River colony. The Forks, a waterfront redevelopment and national historic site, is the birthplace of the Winnipeg. Located at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, this site has been used as a trade and meeting place for over 6000 years. Today, it is again a place where recreational, cultural, commercial and historical activities bring people together. Upper Fort Garry Gate, the only remnant of another HBC fort is nearby.

Among a number of historic houses is Riel House, home of the Riel family; York Factory, located at the mouth of the Nelson River and dating from 1682, was a transshipment point for furs. The partially restored Prince of Wales Fort (1731-82) at the mouth of the Churchill River was built by the HBC and destroyed by the French. Other points of historical significance are St Boniface Basilica, the oldest cathedral in western Canada and the site of Louis Riel's grave; Macdonald House, home of Sir H.J. Macdonald; Fort Douglas; Ross House; Seven Oaks House; and the Living Prairie Museum.


Manitoba has 5 daily newspapers: the Winnipeg Free Press, the Winnipeg Sun, the Brandon Sun, the Portage la Prairie Daily Graphic and the Flin Flon daily Reminder. Sixty-two weekly and biweekly papers service suburban Winnipeg and rural areas, with emphasis on farming, and several trade and business journals are published. The French-language weekly La Liberté is published in St Boniface, and Winnipeg produces more foreign-language newspapers than any other centre in Canada.

The province has 20 AM radio stations (all but 4 are independent), including the French-language station CKSB, and 7 FM radio stations. As well, the CBC has 28 English- and French-language rebroadcasters. Four television stations operate from Winnipeg and one from Brandon, and cable television is available in most centres. The Manitoba Telephone System, a crown corporation, provides telecommunications facilities for all Manitoba. North America's first publicly owned system, it was established in 1908 after the provincial government began appropriating Bell Telephone because of high rates and inefficiency.


Agricultural settlement began in 1812 with the arrival of Lord Selkirk's settlers at Point Douglas, now within the boundaries of Winnipeg. Over the next 45 years, the Red River Colony at Assiniboia survived hail, frost, floods, grasshoppers, skirmishes with the Nor'Westers and an HBC monopoly. Expansionist sentiment from both Minnesota and Upper Canada challenged the HBC's control over the northwest and the Red River Colony.

In 1857 the British government sponsored an expedition to assess the potential of Rupert's Land for agricultural settlement; the Palliser Expedition reported a fertile crescent of land suitable for agriculture extending northwest from the Red River valley. That same year the Canadian government sent Henry Youle to do a similar assessment. The conflict between agricultural expansion and the rights of the Métis broke out in 2 periods of unrest (see Red River Rebellion; North-West Rebellion).

Eventually the HBC charter was terminated and the lands of the North-West were transferred to the new Dominion of Canada by the Manitoba Act of 1870; quarter sections of land were then opened to settlement. It was soon evident that the diminutive province needed to expand. Settlers were rapidly moving to the northwest and spilling over the established boundaries.

In 1881, after years of political wrangling with the federal government, the boundaries were extended to their present western position, as well as being extended farther east, and to lat 53° N. Between 1876 and 1881, 40 000 immigrants, mainly Ontario British, were drawn west by the prospect of profitable wheat farming enhanced by new machinery and milling processes.

Mennonites and Icelandic immigrants arrived in the 1870s, the former settling around Steinbach and Winkler, the latter near Gimli and Hecla. Immigration then slowed until the late 1890s and it was limited mostly to small groups of Europeans.

Between 1897 and 1910, years of great prosperity and development, settlers from eastern Canada, the UK, the US and eastern Europe - especially Ukraine - inundated the province and the neighbouring lands. Subsequent immigration was never on this scale.


From 1897 to 1910 Manitoba enjoyed unprecedented prosperity. Transportation rates fell and wheat prices rose. Grain farming still predominated, but mixed farms prospered and breeders of quality livestock and plants became famous.

Winnipeg swiftly rose to metropolitan stature, accounting for 50% of the increase in population. In the premier city of the West, a vigorous business centre developed, radiating from the corner of Portage Avenue and Main Street: department stores, real estate and insurance companies, legal firms and banks thrived. Abattoirs and flour mills directly serviced the agricultural economy; service industries, railway shops, foundries and food industries expanded.

Both the CPR and the Canadian Northern Railway (later CNR) built marshalling yards in the city which became the hub of a vast network of rail lines spreading east, west, north and south. In 1906 hydroelectricity was first generated at Pinawa on the Winnipeg River, and the establishment of Winnipeg Hydro 28 June 1906 guaranteed the availability of cheap power for domestic and industrial use.

The general prosperity ended with the depression of 1913; freight rates rose, land and wheat prices plummeted and the supply of foreign capital dried up. The opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 ended Winnipeg's transportation supremacy, since goods could move more cheaply between east and west by sea than overland.

During WWI, recruitment, war industry demands, and cessation of immigration sent wages and prices soaring; by 1918 inflation seemed unchecked and unemployment was prevalent. Real wages dropped, working conditions deteriorated and new radical movements grew among farmers and urban workers, culminating in the Winnipeg General Strike of May 1919.

Ensuing depression followed by an industrial boom in the late 1920s tilted the economic seesaw again. By 1928 the value of industrial production exceeded that of agricultural production; the long agricultural depression continued into the 1930s, aggravated by drought, pests and low world wheat prices, and the movement from farm to city and town accelerated. Cities were little better off: industry flagged and unemployment was high.

To eliminate the traditional boom/bust pattern, attempts have been made to diversify the economy. The continuing expansion of mining since 1911 has underlined the desirability of broadening the basis of the economy. The demands of WWII reinforced Manitoba's dependency on agriculture and primary production, but the postwar boom gave the province the opportunity to capitalize on its established industries and to broaden the economic base.

Since WWII, the Manitoba economy has been marked by rapid growth in the province's north. The development of rich nickel deposits in northern Manitoba by Inco Ltd led to the founding of the City of Thompson, whose fluctuating fortunes have mirrored swings in world commodity prices. The region has been the site of several "megaprojects," including the Manitoba Forest Resources operation at The Pas, and the huge limestone hydroelectric generating plant on the Nelson River. The economic future of Manitoba is thus a mixed one - a continuing agricultural slump, offset by growth in light industry, publishing, the garment industry and the export of power to the US.

The 20 years from 1970 to 1990 saw a dramatic realignment of provincial politics, with the virtual disappearance of the provincial Liberal Party and the rise to power of the New Democratic Party under Edward Schreyer and Howard Pawley. Typical of the social democratic initiatives of the NDP were the introduction of a government-run automobile insurance plan and the 1987 plan to purchase Inter-City Gas Co. The government's attempt to increase bilingual services within the province aroused old passions, however, and was abandoned. The Conservative government of Filmon in the 1990s faced the same problems of public debt and economic recovery as the rest of Canada.