A Manitoba Primer

The first thing you need to know is the location of Manitoba in Canada.

A Political Map of Canada

A Political Map of Canada

It used to be called “the postage stamp province” because until 1912, it was shaped like this.


The Postage Stamp Province

As you can see, it is a land of lakes. The sea level actually drops going north.

A Land of Lakes

A Land of Lakes

It has 4 main land regions:
The Hudson Bay is an almost treeless region which extends about 160 kilometers into the interior.
The Canadian Shield, a vast horseshoe-shaped region that covers almost half of Canada and part of the United States. It consists of mainly granite and other rock and covers nearly two-thirds of Manitoba.
The Manitoba Lowland forms part of the Western Interior Plains, which is part of the North American Great Plains. It is a flat area of forests, lakes and swamps which supply great amounts of timber and fish.
The Saskatchewan Plain, another part of the Interior Plains which is a rolling plain broken by low hills. Its rich, well-drained soils make it the main farming region of Manitoba.
The Coastline which runs along Hudson Bay for 917 kilometers.

Manitoba Land Regions

Manitoba Land Regions

There are low lying mountain ranges which form the Manitoba Escarpment. The tallest is Baldy Mountain at 832 meters.
Rivers and lakes cover almost a sixth of Manitoba. The largest lake, Lake Winnipeg which covers almost 24,341 square kilometers, is the largest body of water entirely within any province or state.
Forest covers almost 257,000 square kilometers of land on which roam caribou, moose and polar bears in the north and beaver, fox, lynx and muskrat in the south. Ducks and geese fly north in the spring to breed on Manitoba’s lakes and ponds. The lakes contain  bass, sturgeon, trout and whitefish. These are of course, finite lists of the wildlife that exists there.

The Climate
There is a saying that the corner of Portage and Main in Winnipeg is the coldest, windiest place in Canada. That has yet to be proven but there is no doubt that it is bitterly cold. The average January temperature is -18°C and 20°C in the summer depending on where you are in the province. The highest temperature recorded was in Wawanesa, Manitoba, at 44°C in 1936. The average precipitation is 50 centimetres per year and the average snowfall is 130 centimetres per year. There is also a history of spring floods in Mantioba.

The Economy
From Manitoba’s government website:
“Although Manitoba is rich in natural resources and fertile farmland, the provincial economy is not dependent on any single industry or commodity. Manufacturing is Manitoba’s largest sector, accounting for over 12% of total GDP. Manitoba is home to Canada’s largest plants for furniture, doors, windows and cabinetry. It is also North America’s largest producer of intercity and urban buses. The province is also home to many major service sector operations, including the head offices of two of Canada’s major financial corporations – Great-West Lifeco and IGM Financial — and one of the country’s largest media companies — CanWest Global Communications Corp.”

Next, we will look at what Manitoba was like when my grandparents arrived.



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