After the ice age glaciers retreated, Manitoba was inhabited by the First Nations people (Ojibwe, Cree, Dene, Sioux, Mandan and Assiniboine). They founded settlements, traded with other tribes and engaged in farming.
During 1668 and 1669, the trading vessel, Nonsuch, arrived in Hudson Bay leading to the establishment of the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC). HBC was given fur trading rights by King Charles I of England to a vast area named Rupert's Land, after Prince Rupert, nephew of King Charles.
Fur trading forts were built by HBC and North West Company, resulting in fierce competition until 1821, when HBC absorbed the North West Company, granting HBC a monopoly of the fur trade.
HBC ceded Rupert's Land to Canada in 1869 and it was incorporated into the Northwest Territories. Surveyors were sent in to plot the land, but were opposed by the French-speaking, mostly Métis population, due to major concerns about the loss of their land. In 1870, the Métis, led by Louis Reil, established a provisional government following the Red River Rebellion.
Provincehood and Growing Pains
In the spring of 1870, the Manitoba Act was passed by the Canadian Parliament, creating the province of Manitoba. An agreement with the Métis assured that the province maintained a bilingual government, Catholic and Protestant schools and protection for Métis and First Nations lands.
When Manitoba was established, it was called the "postage-stamp province" due to its small size (1/18 of today's area). It grew over the years by absorbing land from the Northwest Territories and in 1912, reached its current size.