Portage la Prairie is a city in Manitoba, Canada, located about 85 kilometers (53 miles) west of Winnipeg oh the Trans Canada Highway #1, The town’s name dates back to the days of de la Verendrye‘s days when it was the portage resting area between the Assiniboine River and Lake Manitoba. The town is now in the middle of the richest Manitoba farm land. The city’s Chamber of Commerce offers walking tours of the city’s historic buildings.
Annual events include the Strawberry Festival, Portage Industrial Exhibition (Western Canada’s oldest continuous fair)
Portage La Prairie History
The Portage la Prairie area have been traditionally inhabited by the Assiniboine, Cree, and Ojibwa First Nations apeoples for thousands of years. . They utilized the area’s natural resources, including the waterways and fertile lands, for their livelihoods. They were visited by French explorers and fur traders in the late 1600s, which led to the establishment of fur trading posts, including Fort La Reine, in the early 18th century.
Over the 1700s and early 1800s, the North West Company and Hudson’s Bay Company, two major fur trading companies coompeted aggressively for control of the fur trade. Portage la Prairie’s strategic location was strategic in that trade ware, being at the junction of the Assiniboine and Saskatchewan Rivers. In 1820, the Hudsons Bay Company acquired the North West Company ending that war.
As the fur trade declined in both value amnd importance over the mid 1800s, the region attracted settlers who were drawn to the fertile soil and agricultural potential. The Dominion Lands Act of 1872 encouraged settlement and agricultural development, leading to the establishment of homesteads and farms in the area. The arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in the 1880s further contributed to the growth and development of Portage la Prairie.
With its strategic location on rivers, railways, and roadways, the city continued to flourish, attracting more settlers and businesses. Portage la Prairie incorporated as a town in 1880, and became a city in 1907.
Portage la Prairie Attractions
This limestone structure was designed by Thomas Fuller, who designed the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. It was opened in 1898 and declared a historical site in 1986.
Fort la Reine Museum and Pioneer Village
Junction of hwy 1A and 26
Depicts life in the 1800s complete with a blacksmith shop, trading post, country church, schoolhouse, and several restored homes. The original fort was built in 1738 by the French explorer Peirre Gaultier de la Verendrye and served as his headquarters for 15 years. The Museum also railway caboose and the 1882 official rail car of William Van Horne, builder of the CPR. Open May to mid-September weekdays 9 am to 6 pm and weekends 10 am to 6 pm. Admission charged.
Manitoba Museum of the Titanic
Only museum developed to R.M.S. Titanic with one of the largest exhibits of Titanic artifacts. Over 150 items from Titanic survivors and victims inlcuding pre-voyage promotional items and a deckchair. Open April 1 to October 31, Tuesday through Sunday, 12 noon – mall closing hours. Admission charged.
Portage Arts Centre & Gallery
160 Saskatchewan Avenue West
Monthly exhibits, gift gallery, art classes, and art rental program. Open year round 11 am to 5 pm Tuesday to Saturday. Free admission
Rt Hon Arthur Meighen Monument
Monument commemorates the only Manitoban to be Prime Minister of Canada. The lawyer, MLA, and senator went on to be one the country’s youngest prime ministers lived in Portage after he was 22 old.