How was Winnipeg founded

Winnipeg, capital of Manitoba

Winnipeg is the capital of the province of Manitoba and at the same time its largest city by far. In 2006 it had over 633,000 inhabitants, the metropolitan region just under 700,000. In 2011 there were 663,617 city residents. In 2011, 1,208,268 people lived in the province, which is around 648,000 km², including the capital.

The name is derived from the Winnipegsee located 55 km to the north; "Win" means muddy in the local Cree language and "nipee" means water.

Cityscape and structure

The Assiniboine River in the park of the same name

Winnipeg is located at the confluence of the Red River and Assiniboine Rivers. The city itself is located in the Red River valley, which has hardly any hills.1 The urban area has a total of four rivers, the Red River, the Assiniboine, the La Salle and the Seine River.

230 neighborhoods subdivide the provincial capital.2 Downtown Winnipeg in the area of ​​Portage Avenue and Main Street was the core area and starting point for urban growth. From here the arterial roads radiate in all directions. The downtown area is approximately 2.5 km². Urban growth largely followed the two main rivers.

The urbanized area covers an area of ​​25 by 20 km, with considerable areas undeveloped. The two most important parks are Assiniboine Park and Kildonan Park.

The centers of the entertainment and cultural industries are in the Exchange District, The Forks, Osborne Village, Little Italy, Sargent and Ellice Avenues (West End) and in Old St. Boniface, the French quarter.


Early history

Paleo Indians

Manitoba was settled by Indian groups after the end of the last Ice Age, but the meltwater of the huge ice block that covered most of the province formed between 10,000 and 6,000 BC. The so-called Agassizsee, which also covered the area of ​​today's Winnipeg.3

The western Plano culture (approx. 8000 to 4500 BC) already used the Buffalo jumpswhere herds of bison were herded over cliffs for easy hunt. Important sites of this culture are west of Winnipeg in the valley of the Swan River. In the more recent phase of this culture, the Sister Hills Complex, people followed the retreating south shore of Lake Agassiz northwards. Nomadism was replaced by a cycle of seasonal migrations that depended on hunting and vegetation cycles.

Between 6000 and 4000 BC During a warm phase, the forests expanded northward, up to 300 km beyond today's tree line. The group known as the Northern Plano Culture probably came around 8500 BC. From Saskatchewan and extended their migrations eastwards. The eastern Plano extended from Lake Agassiz to Lake Superior. Its main location is on Caribou Lake northeast of Winnipeg. It was a culture that was more adapted to forests. Stone rings, which were once used to fasten tents, are among the oldest relics.

Archaic phase (around to BC)

Within the Archaic phase a younger and an older phase are distinguished, with a transition around 3500 BC. New hunting techniques emerged, such as the spear thrower (Atlatl), at the same time superseded the current one Bison bison the Bison antiquus with its longer horns. For the first time grave goods can be identified. Finds the Logan Creek and Mummy Cave Complexes indicate immigration from the west and south.

The Oxbow Complex dominated in the southwest,4 but artifacts were also found on Lake Winnipeg. The groups probably consisted of 40 to 60 individuals. One of the main sites of this complex is Kuypers site on the banks of the Assiniboine River. Also offshoots of the McKean Complex from Wyoming, which was based on a hot-dry climate, were found at the Kuypers site. Apparently, vegetable food was of less importance to them, but reptiles were also hunted for this.

The Pelican Lake Complex shows clear differences and indicates the immigration of new ethnic groups. So the dead were buried in hollows, Knife River Flint was preferred and grave goods acquired through long-distance trade.

Woodland (200 BC to 1750)

Tipis near the Red River Colony, 1858

Among the finds at Wanipigow Lake5 A good 200 km northeast of Winnipeg, pottery shards were found, which are among the oldest in the province. This as Laurel the layer indicated is approximately 2,000 years old; it was based less on grasslands than on forests and fisheries. During this time, wild rice was planted here for the first time.

During the Woodland period pottery was created, mounds were erected, bows and arrows replaced the atlatl and corn, pumpkin and beans changed the way of life so much that it is assumed that people were becoming increasingly sedentary. Hunting retained its importance in the fringes of the culture, while it almost disappeared in the core areas. Here, too, a distinction is made between an early and a late phase, the time limit of which can be seen around 800. The culture of the Mississippi, especially Cahokia and the Moundbuilders from Ohio, had an impact far into Manitoba. The Arden Camp Site represents the northernmost mound of the province. It is located west of Winnipeg. At the Stott Mound Brandon's found Flint from the Knife River in Dakota. The site has been in use since 800 AD at the latest.

The later plain woodlands phase is characterized by horticulture and wild rice. The Lockport site on the east bank of the Red River shows the cultivation of corn and storage. Clay pots indicate contacts as far as Dakota and Minnesota (Psinomani culture). It wasn't until 1500 that the job was given up because it got too cold. It is possible that between 800 and 1400 the west migration of the Ojibway brought with it its own style of clay processing, known as Blackduck phase is known.

First Europeans, fur trading companies

Upper Fort Garry, early 1870s

In contrast to the Cree, who offered themselves to the European trading companies as fur hunters, the late Taltheilei people and their descendants, the Dene, hardly changed their way of life. Not only did the two groups live very differently, they also often fought.

In 1738 the first trading post was established in what is now Winnipeg. Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye built this first trading post called Fort Rouge, but it was soon abandoned. The first British arrived around 1767. The first settlement in the region that Red River Colony originated on the initiative of Lord Selkirk in 1811. He bought land from the Hudson's Bay Company. Fort Alexander, owned by the Hudson's Bay Company, and Fort Bas-de-la-Rivière, owned by the North West Company, became major fur trading centers. There was also another rivalry, as Minnesota fur traders maintained an illicit trade route known as the Red River Trails became known. They linked the Red River Colony with Saint Paul.

In the battle between the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) and the North West Company for supremacy in the fur trade, trading posts were again established in the region. Fort Garry was founded in 1809 by the North West Company under the name Fort Gibraltar at the confluence of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers, which as The forks was known, founded. In 1816 it was destroyed in the Pemmican War, which lasted from 1815 to 1820. As early as 1812, the competitors had founded Fort Douglas. When the conflict ended with the forced merger of the two rival companies in 1821, Fort Gibraltar was renamed Fort Garry (now Downtown Winnipeg), and became the center of the fur trade in the surrounding areas of the Red River Colony.

Ross House, the oldest building in town and the only surviving Red River Colony building. It was on Market Avenue, but was taken over by the in 1949 Historical Society to Higgins Avenue, then to Meade Street North in 1984, to Point Douglas Heritage Park.

Fort Garry was destroyed by a flood in 1826 and rebuilt in 1836 under the name Upper Fort Garry, to distinguish it from Lower Fort Garry at the confluence of the Red River in Lake Winnipeg. Métis settled around the fort, who hunted buffalo and sold pemmican made from them to the Hudson's Bay Company. In addition, they operated on a small scale on farms after Seigneurial system Agriculture on the river banks (river lot).

The city consisted of only a few buildings.5a In 1855 the first post office was built, the current one Ross House Museum, by William and Jemima Ross.6 The Council of Assiniboia had made William Ross, the son of Alexander Ross, sheriff and postmaster in 1851. He performed the latter function in his own house, which he had built for £ 252. In the absence of postage stamps, he signed a total of 2,912 letters with “Red River, B.N.A.” (British North America). Only at the destinations, such as Pembina, were the letters postmarked. Ross was making £ 5 a year, but he died in 1856. Two years later, his widow married William Coldwell, co-editor of the first Red Rivers newspaper, des Nor Wester. William's brother James took over the management of the family on his return and became the spokesman for the English-speaking population of the colony, as Louis Riel was the spokesman for the French-speaking people.

Transition from HBC to Canada

Main Street in 1887

In 1869 the Canadian Dominion acquired Ruperts Land from HBC, which also included the Red River Colony. When surveyors were sent to the Red River to stake out areas for new settlers from Ontario in 1870, the Métis feared for their land rights, rose up in the Red River Rebellion under Louis Riel and sought admission to the Canadian Dominion as the Provisional Government. The capital became Upper Fort Garry, as it had previously been the seat of the Assiniboia Council. Negotiations between the Provisional Government and the central government in Ottawa resulted in a fundamental agreement, the Manitoba Act, which largely recognized the claims of the Métis. However, their leader Riel was denied an amnesty for the rebellion he led.

The one raised to receive the Duke and Duke of Cornwall and York, later King George V and Queen Mary, in 1901 Royal arch

On November 8, 1873, the city of Winnipeg was established on the basis of the Manitoba Act Founded in the area of ​​Upper Fort Garry, but most of the Métis followed the dwindling herds of buffalo west, which is why few of the original residents stayed in the new town until the 1880s. Manitoba, which was initially very small, derided as the "stamp province", was expanded to its present size by 1912.

John Norquay, Prime Minister from 1878 to 1887, was a member of the English-speaking Métis from the Red River Colony. He tried to resolve language, origin and denominational disputes. Meanwhile, the province's population increased sixfold from 1871 to 1891 from 25,228 to 152,506.7 The immigrants were mostly British and they came into conflict with the Catholic and French-speaking Métis.

In order to gain farmland for them, the Indians were forced to give up their land and move to reservations (numbered treaties). The first of these eleven contracts concerned the Winnipeg region and was signed on August 3, 1871. They were affected Chippewa and Swampy Cree Tribes of Indians, so the tribes of Brokenhead Ojibway Nation (today 1,707 state-recognized relatives8), the Fort Alexander (6,951) (now Sagkeeng First Nation), the Long plain (over 3,500), Peguis (8.701), Roseau River Anishinabe (2.255), the Sandy Bay (5.636) and the Swan Lake (1,218), a total of over 30,000 members of today's First Nations.

Railway connections

Canadian Pacific Railway station, 1884
The second Mayor of Winnipeg, William Nassau Kennedy, 1875-76

Francis Evans Cornish became the first mayor in January 1874, followed by William Nassau Kennedy. Alexander Logan, several times mayor in 1882-84, campaigned for the rail link to run through Winnipeg. In addition, he offered tax exemptions and land donations. The first locomotive reached the city by steamboat as early as 1877, and it reached the city in 1881 Countess of Dufferin from Minneapolis as the first locomotive to cross the city. It is now in the Winnipeg Railway Museum.

The Canadian Pacific Railway was created against the increasing economic connection to the USA. In favor of this rail connection, Norquay initially hindered any private railway construction. On the other hand, represented the Manitoba Liberal Party the interests of settlers and entrepreneurs who were interested in exporting to the south. As Norquay 1887 the expansion of the Red River Valley Railroad from Winnipeg to the US border, the Canadian Prime Minister opposed Norquay. Wheat export was facilitated by the rail link to St. Paul, Minnesota. With the completion of the CPR, the inner-Canadian west-east link, in 1886, Winnipeg became an important loading center on the first transcontinental railroad. It became Canada's fourth largest city, dominated by the Anglican-British majority, trying to erase the French heritage. 1910/11 began construction of a rail link from Winnipeg to Churchill by the Hudson Bay Railway.


General strike in Winnipeg, protesters in front of the Union Bank of Canada building, Main Street and William Avenue

The proportion of the rural population soon decreased in favor of the industrial workers. But their wages fell behind those of other employees and so began a general strike in Winnipeg on May 15, 1919, which lasted until June 25. During the violent intervention of the Federal Police on June 21, "Bloody Saturday", thirty people were injured and one was killed. Mayor Charles Frederick Gray replaced some of the police to suppress the strike. Mayor Thomas Sharpe, who violently attacked strikers of the Winnipeg Electric Railway Company, had acquired the nickname "Gatling Gun Sharpe" in 1906, after the Gatling Gun.9 Later mayors, such as Ralph Humphreys Webb, who held office from 1925-28 and 1930-34, demanded during the strike that "the whole gang should be dumped in the Red River". During another strike in 1931 he demanded the deportation of the agitators.

Immigration to the city was further increased by the global economic crisis and several years of drought. This tendency was intensified by the Second World War with its skyrocketing demand for raw materials, agricultural products and, above all, industrial goods, especially in the Winnipeg area.

To protect Winnipeg from the Red River floods, which were particularly severe in 1950, Prime Minister Dufferin Roblin let the Red River Floodway build that still today as Duff's Ditch referred to as. It was supposed to protect the capital from flooding. The mayor Garnet Coulter (1943-54) set up a fund to compensate for the damage, the Manitoba Flood Relief Fund.

Unity Act, bilingualism, independent energy policy

In 1969, the NDP under Edward Schreyer won the election. He enforced Winnipeg's present constitution in 1971, the Unity Act. The current districts of St. James-Assiniboia, St. Boniface, Transcona, St. Vital, West Kildonan, East Kildonan, Tuxedo, Old Kildonan, North Kildonan, Fort Garry and Charleswood were combined with the original parish of Winnipeg. In order to avoid urban sprawl, the city administration restricted building to a clearly defined area.

In 1979 the Supreme Court passed the Manitoba Act from 1870 back into force, restoring the province's official bilingualism after almost 90 years.

Since 1882, by resolution of the Justice Committee of the Privy Council the provinces almost sovereign in the areas of natural resources, property, civil rights, education, welfare and health. Manitoba has a local business elite in Winnipeg who have their own policies. In 2004 it was built near St. Leon 150 km southwest of Winnipeg, on a hill called the Pembina Escarpment, Manitoba's first 9,000 hectare wind farm; it delivers 99 MW from 63 wind turbines and thus supplies 35,000 households with electricity. In September 2007, Prime Minister Gary Doer prevented the clearing of valuable forest for a power line that was instead being built west of Lake Winnipeg.

In 1992, Susan Thompson became the first woman mayor, and she ruled until 1998. In 2004, Sam Katz, Winnipeg elected its first Jewish mayor. He was re-elected on October 25, 2006 with more than 60% of the vote. In 2008 he took over the position of one Secretary of Urban Aboriginal Affairs. Together with David Chartrand, the President of the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF), he initiated a program that aims to increase awareness of belonging among the Métis and the members of the First Nations and Inuit, who make up over 10% of the population, through more participation and better professional training (' It's My Community Too ').


Winnipeg has 633,451 inhabitants (2006), about 55% of Manitoba's total population. Between 2001 and 2006, the population of Winnipeg increased by 13,907 people.10 Winnipeg's annual growth rate has been 0.5% since 1971. Most of the growth is generated by migration from nearby sub-urban areas, Indian reservations and by expanding the city limits to neighboring cities.


Once Canada's fourth largest city, Winnipeg's population growth has lagged since the 1970s, with the result that the city was only 10th in 2004. Winnipeg is home to 10% indigenous people, 6% Filipinos, 2% South Asians, Blacks and Chinese, 1% Southeast Asians and Latin Americans and 2% other minorities.11

Religions and denominations

According to the 2001 census, around 445,000 of the 610,445 inhabitants were Christians. 214,235 of these were Protestants, 199,025 Catholics, 10,280 Orthodox and a further 21,725 ​​belonged to other denominations. Winnipeg is home to the world's largest settlement of Mennonites or Russian mennonites. In addition there were 12,555 Jews, the largest Jewish diaspora in Canada, 5,335 Buddhists and 5,285 Sikh, 4,690 Muslims, and 3,605 Hindus. 130,740 were non-denominational.12 Of the non-Christian parts of the population, well over 90% of the total provincial population lived in the capital.


Winnipeg is the operational hub of the VIA Rail Canada-operated transcontinental long-distance train The Canadian, which connects the city with Saskatoon-Edmonton-Jasper-Vancouver and Greater Sudbury-Toronto, as well as the rest of the North American rail network. In addition, Winnipeg is the starting point of the long-distance train The Hudson Bay, which drives about 1,700 kilometers to the north of Manitoba to Churchill. Long-distance buses connect Winnipeg with Sioux Falls in the USA, among others. The city is on the Trans-Canada Highway and is home to Winnipeg International Airport.

Under Mayor George Sharpe (1955-56) streetcars, a type of tram, were abolished, which Sharpe believed was a great asset to the city's progress.13


There are seven so-called school divisions in Winnipeg. These are the Winnipeg, the St. James Assiniboia, the Pembina trails and the Seven Oaks School Division, then Division Scolaire Franco-Manitobaine, the River East Transcona and the Louis Riel School Division. Then there are private schools that don't school divisions assigned.

The University of Manitoba is the largest university in the province and the only research university. However, it is not one of the top Canadian universities, the Group of Thirteen. It was founded in 1877. In 2009 it had around 26,000 students and employed 8,000 people.14 The College of Universitaire de Saint-Boniface, which is part of the university, primarily accepts French-speaking students.15

The University of Winnipeg was founded a few years earlier.16 It was created in 1871 Manitoba College, 1888 the Wesley College. They were united in 1938 and the new institute was now called United College. Until 2007 it was only for Undergraduates responsible, so was only entitled to lead the students to a first university degree. She founded her own Aboriginal Student Services Center for members of the First Nations and the Métis. It should not only serve the indigenous people at the university, but also strengthen contacts with the often remote communities.

The Canadian Mennonite University was established in 1999 and is a private Mennonite university with around 1,600 students. Here, too, colleges were merged, namely that Canadian Mennonite Bible College from 1947), the Concord College, published in 1944 as Mennonite Brethren Bible College was created, and that Menno Simons College from 1988, named after Menno Simons (1496-1561).17

The Red River College and the Booth College are independent colleges. Booth College is a Salvation Army facility that was established in 1982.

The city also houses one of Canada's most important archives, the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives. It moved from London to Winnipeg between 1970 and 1974 and has been open to the public since 1995.


The first newspaper in Winnipeg and thus in the province was published in 1872 under the name Manitoba Free Press founded. Under the current name Winnipeg Free Press it is the only sheet from the founding phase between 1859 and 1890 that still exists today.18 The first edition was published by William Fisher Luxton and John A. Kenny on November 30, 1872. It was made in a cabin at 555 Main Street. The established itself as a weekly paper Prairie Farmer. After several moves, the newspaper moved to 300 Carlton St. in 1913, where it resided until 1991. Today 1355 Mountain Avenue is the headquarters. The Winnipeg Tribune existed from 1890 but was discontinued in 1980.19 In the same year the Winnipeg Sun founded.


External links


  1. 1 ↑ Geomorphology of the Red River, Natural Resources Canada.
  2. 2 ↑ Statistics Canada.
  3. 3 ↑ This and the following from: Paleo Period, Manitoba Archaeological Society 1998.
  4. 4 ↑ See Oxbow Complex.
  5. 5 ↑ Boreal Forest Woodland Period, Wanipigow Site, EgKx-1.
  6. 5a ↑ Here is a map of the city from 1879, which shows the state ten years earlier.
  7. 6 ↑ Sheila Grover: Ross House, A Manitoba Historical Society Museum, first in: Manitoba History 2 (1981).
  8. 7 ↑ See Statistics Canada.
  9. 8 ↑ The figures from January 2010 come from the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, but only include the state-recognized "Indians" according to the Indian Act.
  10. 9 ↑Thomas Sharpe. In: Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Toronto 1979ff. ISBN 0-8020-3142-0 (English, French)
  11. 10 ↑ Statistics Canada, table Population and dwelling counts.
  12. 11 ↑ Statistics Canada, tables Aboriginal population and Visible minority population characteristics.
  13. 12 ↑ Statistics Canada.
  14. 13 ↑Winnipeg's last streetcar rolls into history, CBC, September 25, 1955.
  15. 14 ↑Students, Summary, University website.
  16. 15 ↑ Our History, University of Manitoba website.
  17. 16 ↑The History of the University of Winnipeg.
  18. 17 ↑ About CMU.
  19. 18 ↑ According to the presentation of the newspaper: History. Winnipeg Free Press - Partners in Progress.
  20. 19 ↑ The Winnipeg Tribune, University of Manitoba. Archives and Special Collections

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