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Manitoba Description

Manitoba History

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.

Henry HudsonHenry Hudson was the first European to sail into present-day Hudson Bay in 1611. The first European to reach Manitoba was Sir Thomas Button, who arrived in 1612.

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.

As French fur traders moved into the territory and married Aboriginal women, the combination of the cultures created the Métis, or the early mixed-race people of Manitoba.

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.

metris flagHowever, the guarantees were largely ignored and the land went to Anglo settlers arriving from Ontario, resulting in many of the Métis leaving Manitoba and moving to Saskatchewan and Alberta.

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.

About the Author

John Moen is a cartographer who along with his wife are the orignal founders of worldatlas.com. He and his wife, Chris Woolwine-Moen, produced thousands of award-winning maps that are used all over the world and content that aids students, teachers, travelers and parents with their geography and map questions. Today, it's one of the most popular educational sites on the web.

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This page was last updated on July 14, 2016.