Winnipeg is Manitoba’s largest city, with about half its population, as well as the seat of the provincial Legislature. the city has great shopping and a great nightlife & restaurant scene. The city and area is very multi-cultural, with the portion southeast of downtown being mainly French speaking.
Winnipeg is the largest city on the Trans-Canada Highway between Winnipeg and Ottawa. Winnipeg lies at the confluence of the Assiniboine River and the North-flowing Red River. Winnipeg became the retail centre and grain-trading centre for western Canada because the ice age glaciers created large lakes that forced the railroads through this point in southern Manitoba.
The city has an ethnically-diverse population of 650,000 and has many cultural groups and activities. Winnipeg is a major head-office city, particularly in the financial services sector and is home to Canada’s largest life insurance company, Canada´s largest mutual fund company, as well as its only commodities exchange.
The city actively supports its team in the Canadian Football team, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Whether it’s a visit to the zoo, an art gallery or the lakes to the north, Winnipeg offers its visitors and residents lots to do every day of the week. The city is used often for a 1920s or 1930s era movies, because so much of its period architecture is well maintained in the Exchange District (for example, the Oscar-winning movie-musical Chicago). The city is renowned for its nightlife and for its shopping, since it is a major fashion/ clothing manufacturing centre.
For over 6,000 years, the area has been settled by aboriginals. Winnipeg’s location is at the confluence of the east-west Assiniboine River and the north-south Red River, about 60 kilometres south of Lake Winnipeg. The name Winnipeg has its origin in the Cree Indian name given to the lake 40 miles north, meaning “Win”, muddy, “nipee”, water.
In 1612, Captain Thomas Button explored the lands along the western shore of the Hudson’s Bay for the King of England. In 1670, the lands draining into the Bay were granted to the Hudson’s Bay Company for fur trading. The area was explored by fur traders working for the Hudson’s Bay Company (who canoed south from the Bay) traders with and the Northwest Company (who canoed west from Montreal), who fought a bitter rivalry. The permanent settlement began as a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post (Fort Garry).
When the Dominion of Canada was established in 1867, Britain transferred almost all of the Hudson’s Bay lands to it. The Metis feared that they would then lose their traditional lands to the new settlers in a land rush. Louis Riel, a Metis leader staged the Red River Rebellion (so named, even though battles were fought well into Saskatchewan). This caused the Canadian government to create the Northwest Mounted Police (now the RCMP) to make the area safe again. Riel refused to give up until language and property rights were protected in the Manitoba Act of 1870, when the province joined the Confederation. Louis Riel, however, was hung for his rebellion.
The city grew because of its strategic location midway between Lake Winnipeg and the American border, which constricted the path for an east-west railway, and by 1886, the first trans-continental train arrived from Montreal.
These railway connections increased the city’s travel and trade and made it important for the prairie grain farmers as a major centre of trade. Winnipeg grew to become the greatest grain centre on the American continent. Because of its excellent rail connections to the US as well as to eastern Canada it also became the financial, commercial, wholesale and manufacturing centre of the new West. The end of the war brought a second wave of immigrants, who settled mainly in the cities , including Winnipeg. Winnipeg grew quickly, benefiting from cheap Manitoba hydro-electric power and plentiful fresh water, and its location close to the geographical centre of North America.
In 1950, the Great Red River Flood caused 80,000 to be displaced while the surging Red River overflowed its banks. This caused the political impetus to build the great Spillway. This construction project moved 76 million cubic metres of earth along a 47 kilometre path, an amount greater than the St Lawrence Seaway or the Panama Canal. Ever since, Winnipeg has been safe (though not farmlands to the south) from the annual Red River Floods
Most cross-country drivers take the Trans-Canada Bypass along #101, which circumvents Winnipeg to the south, and has three notable river crossings: the Assiniboine River in the west, the Red River and (in late Spring) the Red River Floodway in the souths/outheast. You can take the official #1 into and though Winnipeg, which is the recommended route for bicyclists. This route takes you past beautiful Assiniboine Park (accessed via a bridge) and a number of malls & services in the city’s west side, runs adjacent to the downtown core and The Forks, and through St Boniface and St Vital, the older and historic French neighbourhoods of Winnipeg. In the city’s southeast, you pass the massive Symmington Yards servicing the railways in this part of Canada as well as the heavy industrial lands just to the north.