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Manitoba, CanadaWinnipeg, pronounced WIHN uh pehg, is the capital of Manitoba, and one of Canada's largest cities. It is Canada's main grain market and one of the nation's leading centers of culture, finance, and trade. More than half of Manitoba's people live in the city.

Winnipeg lies about 60 miles (97 kilometers) north of the Canadian-United States border and almost midway between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Its central location makes the city the chief transportation center linking eastern and western Canada. It is also a principal distribution point for goods traveling west from eastern Canada. It has the nickname Gateway to the West. It was named after Lake Winnipeg, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) to the north. The word Winnipeg comes from the Cree Indian words win-nipi, meaning muddy water.

The city covers 179 square miles (464 square kilometers). It lies at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers.

Main Street, once an important settlers' trail, is Winnipeg's chief north-south street. Portage Avenue, the beginning of the old overland route to Edmonton, Alberta, is the main east-west street. The 33-story Toronto-Dominion Centre, Winnipeg's tallest structure, rises 413 feet (126 meters) at Main and Portage. The city's chief public buildings are in the nearby Civic Centre. The Manitoba Legislative Building stands on the Mall in a park on the north bank of the Assiniboine River.

Winnipeg's metropolitan area covers 1,575 square miles (4,078 square kilometers). The Winnipeg metropolitan area ranks as one of Canada's largest metropolitan areas in population.

The people. More than 80 percent of Winnipeg's people were born in Canada, and most are of mixed European ancestry. About one-third of the city's people have British ancestors. The next largest ethnic groups are French people, Germans, and Ukrainians.

A large number of Indians and metis (people of mixed Indian and white ancestry) live in Winnipeg. Most of the people in these groups moved to the city from rural areas. Many have little or no education and find it hard to get jobs. They live in the city's poorest sections. The Indian and Metis Friendship Centre provides a place for advice, companionship, and recreation. But the low standard of living of many Indians and metis remains a major problem in Winnipeg's downtown area.

Map of the centre of Winnipeg, CanadaEconomy. Winnipeg lies in a rich grain-growing region, and the Winnipeg Commodity Exchange is Canada's major grain market. The Canadian Wheat Board and many grain companies have their main offices in Winnipeg. The Winnipeg Stock Exchange helps make the city a major financial center.

The city is also an important transportation center. A number of major nationwide trucking companies have their headquarters in Winnipeg. Canada's two transcontinental railroads and a U.S. railroad serve the city. The Trans-Canada Highway and Manitoba's main highways pass through Winnipeg. Winnipeg International Airport is one of Canada's busiest airports. Important products made by Winnipeg area factories include aerospace equipment, clothing, electronics, farm machinery, furniture, processed foods, and transportation equipment. The Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg supplies all Canadian coins and also coins money for foreign countries without mint facilities of their own.

Education. Winnipeg's public school system has about 255 elementary and high schools. The city also has about 40 parochial and private schools. Local property taxes provide the chief source of revenue for the public schools. The provincial government also provides some funds for school expenses.

The University of Manitoba was founded in Winnipeg in 1877. Other schools of higher education are the University of Winnipeg, in the downtown area; and Red River Community College, which provides training in technical and office skills.

Winnipeg Art Gallery. The Winnipeg Art Gallery helps make the city one of the leading cultural centers of Canada. Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba, lies in the southern part of the province.  The Winnipeg Art Gallery (Ernest Mayer).Cultural life. Winnipeg is one of the chief cultural centers of Canada. The world-famous Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, and the Manitoba Opera Association perform in the Centennial Concert Hall. The hall is part of the Manitoba Centennial Centre, which also includes the Manitoba Theatre Centre, the Museum of Man and Nature, and a planetarium. The Winnipeg Art Gallery attracts many visitors. The city is also home to the Mennonite Heritage Centre and the Ukrainian Museum of Canada.

A public library system operates branches throughout the city. The Winnipeg Centennial Library is the main branch. The city has two daily newspapers, the Winnipeg Free Press and The Winnipeg Sun. About 5 television stations and about 10 radio stations serve Winnipeg, including one French-language television station and one multilanguage radio station.

Winnipeg has about 900 parks, squares, and athletic fields. Assiniboine Park, covering 375 acres (152 hectares), is the largest park. It includes beautiful gardens and a zoo. The Assiniboine Forest, a 692-acre (280-hectare) nature preserve, lies south of the park. TheWinnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League play their home games in Winnipeg Stadium.

Ross House, western Canada's first post office, is in downtown Winnipeg. It opened in 1855. Lower Fort Garry National Historic Park, north of Winnipeg, has the only stone fur-trading post still standing in North America. The post dates from the 1830's.

Government. Winnipeg has a mayor-council government. The voters in each of Winnipeg's 15 wards (voting areas) elect one councilor to the city council. The councilors serve three-year terms. The voters also elect a mayor to a three-year term as administrative head of the government. A five-member board of commissioners, including a chief commissioner, supervises various departments of the government. Property taxes provide about two-thirds of Winnipeg's revenue.

History. The Assiniboine and Cree Indians lived in what is now the Winnipeg area before the first whites arrived. In 1738, Sieur de La Verendrye, a French-Canadian fur trader, became the first white person to reach what is now Winnipeg. He built Fort Rouge at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers and traded for furs with the Indians.

During the early 1800's, the Winnipeg area became the center of fur-trade rivalry between the North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company. In 1812, Scottish and Irish farmers set up the area's first permanent settlement along the Red River (see MANITOBA [The Red River Colony]). The Hudson's Bay Company absorbed its chief rival in 1821. That year, the company enlarged Fort Gibraltar, a post at the site of present-day Winnipeg, and renamed it Fort Garry. It rebuilt the fort in 1835 and called it Upper Fort Garry. A trading post north of Winnipeg was known as Lower Fort Garry. Upper Fort Garry became the center of the Red River settlement.

In 1870, Manitoba entered the Dominion of Canada. The Red River settlement was renamed Winnipeg that same year, and it became the capital of the new province. It was incorporated as a city in 1873. By then, it had about 1,900 people. In 1878, Manitoba's first railroad linked Winnipeg and St. Paul, Minn. The Canadian Pacific Railway (now CP Rail) connected Winnipeg with eastern Canada in 1881. The government's offer of free land in western Canada helped Winnipeg's population grow during the late 1800's.

During the early 1900's, large numbers of Europeans settled in Winnipeg. Industry grew rapidly in the city during this period, and Winnipeg became the manufacturing center of western Canada. The opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 slowed Winnipeg's expansion. Companies in eastern Canada could now send their products to the West more cheaply by ship through the canal than by railroad. Winnipeg's economy continued to suffer during the Great Depression of the 1930's.

During World War II (1939-1945), sharp increases in the demand for livestock, lumber, metals, and wheat brought prosperity back to Winnipeg. Between 1946 and 1950, about 200 industries began in Winnipeg. The city's population fell during the 1960's, partly because of a trend toward suburban living.

In 1960, the Manitoba legislature established the Metropolitan Corporation of Greater Winnipeg to administer a number of services for Winnipeg and 11 of its suburbs. These services included planning and zoning, public transportation, and water supply. Each municipality in the corporation also had its own governing council to administer local affairs.

In 1971, the Manitoba legislature combined Winnipeg and the suburbs into one municipality, the unified city of Winnipeg. The merger, which took effect on Jan. 1, 1972, greatly increased the city's area and population.

A downtown building boom began in the 1960's and 1970's. Tall apartment and office buildings and hotels replaced many old structures. New construction included the Winnipeg Convention Centre, which opened in 1975, and a system of enclosed walkways above the streets.

In 1981, the city, provincial, and federal governments launched the Winnipeg Core Area Initiative. Through this program, the three governments provided funds to improve education, social services, and economic development in a 10-square-mile (26-square-kilometer) area of the inner city. The Core Area Initiative included renovation of historic office and warehouse buildings in the downtown Exchange district, and construction of a shopping and residential complex on Portage Avenue. The city, provincial, and federal governments also formed a public corporation to develop a 56-acre (23-hectare) historic area called the Forks. This area, which is located at the junction of the Assiniboine and Red rivers, includes many sites from Winnipeg's early days as a fur-trading center. The Forks opened to tourists in 1990, but development was to continue for many years.

Contributor: John S. Brierley, Ph.D., Prof. of Geography, Univ. of Manitoba.

Facts in brief about Winnepeg
Population: 618,477. Metropolitan area population --667,209.
Area: 179 sq. mi. (464 sq. km). Metropolitan area --1,575 sq. mi. (4,078 sq. km).
Altitude: 784 ft. (239 m) above sea level.
Climate: Average temperature --January, -2 degrees F (-19 degrees C); July, 68 degrees F (20 degrees C). Average annual precipitation (rainfall, melted snow, and other forms of moisture)--21 inches (53 centimeters). For the monthly weather in Winnipeg, see MANITOBA (Climate) .
Government: Mayor-council. Terms --3 years for the mayor and 15 councillors.
Founded: 1870. Incorporated as a city in 1873.

FEBRUARY, 27, 2003



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