Manitoba is the easternmost of three prairie provinces in Canada. Manitoba is bordered by Saskatchewan to the west, Nunavut to the north, Ontario to the east and U.S. states North Dakota and Minnesota to the south. The northernmost areas of Manitoba are permafrost, or permanently frozen subsoil, with some tundra bordering the Hudson Bay.
Manitoba has an estimated population of 1.272 million, up from 1.208 million in 2011. The province has a population density of about 2 people per square kilometer, or 6 per square mile.
Cities in Manitoba
The largest cities in Manitoba by population are:
- Winnipeg (pop: 665,000) the capital and largest city of Manitoba. It is also the 7th largest municipality in Canada and home to about 60% of Manitoba's total population. Winnipeg has an urban population of 673,000 and a metropolitan population of 735,000. The city proper has a density of 3,700 people per square mile, or 1,430 per square kilometer.
- Brandon (pop: 47,000) is the second-largest city and it's located in the southwestern part of the province.
- Steinbach (pop: 14,000) is the third-largest city and the largest community in the Eastman region of Manitoba. The city has a strong German and Mennonite influence today as it was founded by Mennonites in the late 19th century and more than 50% of residents have German ancestry.
- Portage la Prairie (pop: 13,000) is a small city about 47 miles west of Winnipeg. Portage la Prairie has the most sunny days during the warm months of any city in Canada.
- Thompson (pop: 12,500) is 459 miles north of Winnipeg and has a trading population of up to 65,000 people.
At the 2006 census, the ethnic composition of Manitoba was 69.9% white, 13.08% visible minority groups and 17% Aboriginal (11% First Nations, 6.5% Metis). The visible minority groups included:
- Filipino: 5%
- South Asian: 2.2%
- Black: 1.7%
- Chinese: 1.5%
- Latin American: 0.8%
- Southeast Asian: 0.7%
- Arab: 0.3%
- Korean: 0.3%
- West Asian: 0.2%
- Japanese: 0.2%
The most common ethnic origins in Manitoba are:
- English: 22.1%
- German: 19.1%
- Scottish: 18.5%
- Canadian: 18.2%
- Ukrainian: 14.7%
- Irish: 13.4%
- French: 13.1%
- North American Indian: 10.6%
- Polish: 7.3%
- Metis: 6.4%
- Dutch: 4.9%
- Russian: 4.0%
- Icelandic: 2.7%
Manitoba has the largest Icelandic population outside of Iceland, with about 35% living in Manitoba. There are at least 40 languages spoken in Manitoba.
About 43% of the population is Protestant, followed by 29% Roman Catholic, 4.0% Christian, 1.5% Christian Orthodox and 1.1% Jewish. Those with no religious affiliation account for almost 19% of the population.
Manitoba was first inhabited by the First Nations people shortly after the last ice age glaciers retreated, or around 10,000 years ago. Several tribes came to the area and formed settlements. One of the first Europeans to reach the area was Henry Hudson, who sailed into the Hudson Bay in 1611. The first European to reach central and southern Manitoba was Sir Thomas Button the following year, who attempted to rescue Hudson after he was abandoned by his crew.
In 1668, a British ship called the Nonsuch sailed into the bay, becoming the first trading vessel to reach the area and it was this voyage that led to the founding of the Hudson's Bay Company, which was given complete control of the area by the British government.
In the 1730s, French explorers began to explore the area and the North West Company began trading with the Aboriginal peoples. The Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company both built fur-trading forts and competed against each other until they merged in 1821. By 1763, the area was secured by Great Britain after their victory over France during the French and Indian War. The first agricultural community was settled in 1812 north of present-day Winnipeg.
The area was ceded to Canada by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1869 and it was incorporated into the Northwest Territories, and it became a province of Canada in 1870. The late 19th century saw the signing of the Numbered Treaties, which made promises to give land to every family of the various First Nations peoples in the area. Unfortunately, the specific amount of land was not always given and claims persist today through aboriginal land claims.
- Manitoba is the only province in Canada with more than 55% of its population in one city.
- In the 1880s, Icelandic settlers in Gimli declared a brief "Republic" called New Iceland.
- Manitoba has the largest Icelandic population outside of Iceland.
- Popular tourist activities in Manitoba include watching beluga whales, horseback riding, polar bear watching and camping.
- The name Manitoba means "where the spirit lives" in the native Cree language.
- Winnipeg has the lowest commute time (less than 8 kilometers) of any Canadian city with a population of more than 500,000.
- Manitoba is one of the most affordable places in Canada to buy a home.
- During the peak summer weeks, southern Manitoba gets up to 16 hours of daylight per day.
- Winnie the Pooh was owned by Harry Colebourn, a Lieutenant in Winnipeg. Winnie is named after Winnipeg.
- Churchill, Manitoba is called the Polar Bear Capital of the World because it is the most accessible place on earth to view wild polar bears.
- Winnipeg native and World War II spymaster Sir William Stephenson was the inspiration for James Bond.