Manitoba is the easternmost prairie province, situated roughly in the centre of Canada and bordered by Saskatchewan to the west and Ontario to the east. First Nations peoples have inhabited this region for over 10,000 years.
The Hudson’s Bay Company controlled the region from 1670 to 1869, when the land was sold to Canada with no consideration for its inhabitants. The sale of the land, the exclusion of its residents in the creation of a local government, and the start of infrastructure projects without consultation with the local inhabitants resulted in the Red River Resistances of 1869-70 and 1885, led by Métis leader Louis Riel and the supporters of the Métis Nation.
In response to the first Resistance, the Manitoba Act of 1870 created the province of Manitoba, which promised land grants to the Métis Nation. However, these promises were broken and the Métis were forced westward by increasing white settlement.
During this challenging period, the newly formed province covered little more than the Red River Valley area. However, increasing migration and settlement of the area by people moving westwards spurred the growth of settlements across the region and enhanced the importance of Manitoba within Confederation.
Did you know?
- Manitoba is considered to be the Métis Nation Homeland as the fur trade resulted in significant mixing in this area between First Nations peoples and Europeans.
- Winnipeg experienced booming growth at the turn of the 20th century, but it was short lived and was followed by decades of depression, drought, labour unrest and two world wars.
- In January 1916, Manitoba became the first province to grant women the right to vote and hold provincial office. However, First Nations and Asian Canadian women were excluded from these rights.