Located in the middle of Canada and full of history, wildlife, and unique attractions, there are a lot of interesting Manitoba facts to learn about. From being known as the polar bear capital of the world and the Slurpee capital of the world to having some of the largest festivals in Canada, it’s really fascinating to dig deep into the many facts about Manitoba.
Although we’ve spent much of our life in Alberta, we did live in Winnipeg for five months back in 2015 and really loved it. We’ve also travelled quite extensively around Manitoba, including many visits to Winnipeg, Churchill, and Riding Mountain National Park.
So without further ado, here are 84 facts about Manitoba.
General Facts about Manitoba
Let’s start with 26 interesting facts about Manitoba that relate to its geography, demographics, and overall history.
- Manitoba is located in the centre of Canada. It is bordered by Saskatchewan to the west, Hudson Bay and Ontario to the east, Nunavut to the north, and North Dakota and Minnesota (United States) to the south.
- Manitoba is considered a keystone province due to its shape and position in the centre of Canada.
- Manitoba is one of the three Prairie provinces in Canada, the other two being Saskatchewan and Alberta. Prairie means “plains” in French and refers to the fact that most of the province consists of vast, flat plains with very few trees or hills.
- Manitoba derives its name from a native Cree word that means “the narrows of the Great Spirit,” originating from the word “Man-into-wahpaow”. This describes Lake Manitoba and its narrowness.
- Manitoba is located at the heart of the giant Hudson Bay watershed. This area was of importance to the Hudson’s Bay Company, and it provided excellent opportunities for the lucrative fur trade.
- Manitoba joined the Canadian Confederation in 1870, following the Manitoba Act.
- Manitoba became the fifth province of Canada, when Métis leader, Louis Riel advocated guarantees for their land, language, and political rights. His leadership inspired the creation of Manitoba.
- The original province of Manitoba was one-eighth of its current area and was known as the “postage stamp province.” In 1881, its borders were significantly expanded by taking land from the Northwest Territories.
- Manitoba is bigger than England by area. Manitoba is a huge prairie province that covers approximately 649,950 square kilometres (250,900 sq miles), featuring northern arctic tundra, dense boreal forest, lakes, farmland, and more.
- Winnipeg is Manitoba’s capital and largest city. It has a population of roughly 830,000.
- Manitoba’s Coat of arms was adopted in 1905 and features a crown in the centre, followed by a beaver serjeant holding a prairie crocus (flower), red and silver mantling, and the shield of arms with a unicorn and a white horse supporting the left and right sides. The Coat of Arms also features maple leaves, the wheel of a Red River cart, and Prairie Indian beadwork and bone decorations. The bottom shows a banner bearing the provincial motto in Latin.
- The official motto of Manitoba is Gloriosus et liber, meaning Glorious and free. It was taken from the Canadian National Anthem (8th line, ‘O Canada’).
- Manitoba’s Flag was adopted on June 12th, 1961. It is one of only two provincial flags that still carry the Red Ensign, featuring the Union Jack and the Coat of Arms on a red background. For more information, check out our article about the Flags of Canada.
- Manitoba’s official mammal is the Plains bison, which was adopted in 2014.
- Manitoba’s official bird is the Great grey owl, which was adopted in 1987.
- Manitoba’s official tree is the White spruce, which was adopted on July 5, 1991.
- Manitoba’s official flower is the Prairie Crocus, which was adopted in 1906.
- Manitoba’s demographic is made up of approximately English (22.9%), German (19.1%), Scottish (18.5%), Ukrainian (14.7%), Irish (13.4%), Indigenous (10.6%), Métis (6.4%).
- Manitoba is one of the most sparsely populated provinces in Canada with a population density of just 2.2 people per square kilometre. (Ontario, by contrast, has a population density is 14.1 people per square kilometre).
- Manitoba is home to 92 provincial parks, and 2 Canadian national parks (Riding Mountain National Park and Wapusk National Park).
- The Hudson Bay, which is located in Northern Manitoba, is the world’s second-largest bay.
- Manitoba’s biggest natural hazard is spring flooding, particularly around Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin. However, thunderstorms, wildfires, and tornadoes can also occur anywhere.
- The province has very cold winters and short, mild summers that are typically not too humid. The northern part of the province is usually colder than the rest.
- The coldest temperature ever recorded in Manitoba was − 47.8°C (−54 °F) on December 24, 1879, in Winnipeg.
- The warmest temperature recorded in the province is 44.4 °C (112 °F), which occurred twice on July 11 and 12, 1936.
- The province and the city of Winnipeg were both named after the indigenous groups (Cree and Assiniboine) that lived in the area.
Facts about Winnipeg
As Manitoba’s capital city, there are lots of fun facts about Winnipeg. Here’s 25.
- Winnipeg is not only the capital city of Manitoba but also close to the geographical centre of Canada. You can find it less than 30 km from Winnipeg and it’s a great place for a photo op.
- The capital city, like the province itself, derives its name from a Cree word that translates to muddy or murky waters. Winnipeg was named after nearby Lake Winnipeg but its name means “muddy waters.”
- The earliest inhabitants of the area were Indigenous peoples from two nations: the Ne-hiyawak (Cree) and the Nakotas (Assiniboin). They were later joined by the Anishinaabe (Ojibwa) and the Dakota (Sioux).
- Winnipeggers love their Slurpees. In fact, Winnipeg has been voted the Slurpee Capital of the World 20 years in a row. For those who’ve never had a Slurpee, it’s a frozen, sugary slushie drink that can be ordered at convenience stores such as 7-11. Despite Slurpees being a cold drink, people here drink them in the winter too. Is this one of the “coolest” Manitoba facts?
- Winnipeg is ranked as one of the coldest cities in the world, along with Yellowknife, Russia’s Duninka and Yakutsk, and China’s Harbin.
- For those into dance, Winnipeg is home to the oldest dance company in Canada! The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is also the second-oldest in North America. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is also the longest-continuously operating ballet company in North America.
- Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers is Canada’s oldest contemporary dance company, founded by Rachel Browne in 1964.
- Winnipeg’s French theatre company Le Cercle Moliere is Canada’s oldest continuously operating French theatre.
- Winnipeg is also home to one of Canada’s 7 NHL teams. The Winnipeg Jets, which once left the city for the USA, returned back to Winnipeg in 2011. Games take place at Bell MTS Place, which is right in the downtown core. However, it’s not just hockey in Manitoba. They’re also home to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (Canadian Football League), the Manitoba Moose (American Hockey League), and the Winnipeg Goldeyes (American Association).
- Winnipeg is home to the first national museum outside Canada’s capital city. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is actually one of our favourite museums in the country and was built to showcase and educate people on human rights issues while minimizing the structure’s impact on the environment. The rotating exhibits have featured stories on war, women’s rights, truth and reconciliation, and much more.
- Winnipeg was also the first city in North America to create and use a central emergency system. It all started in 1959 with the number “999”, which has now become “911”.
- Another great place to visit in Winnipeg is The Forks, a historic meeting place in the heart of downtown Winnipeg, which features many shops and restaurants, museums, and even a huge skating trail during the winter months. It got its name due to being the “fork” where the Red and Assiniboine Rivers meet. It is believed that Indigenous Peoples lived and occupied the Forks for at least 6,000 years.
- Winnipeg is home to the beautiful Rainbow Stage, Canada’s longest-running outdoor theatre. It has been showcasing Broadway musicals in Kildonan Park since 1955.
- If you love old buildings as much as we do, Winnipeg’s Exchange District is a great place to visit. The Exchange District is a National Historic Site spanning 30 blocks in Winnipeg’s downtown, showcasing turn-of-the-twentieth-century architecture that is unrivalled in Canada. It’s home to many local restaurants, shops and entertainment centres.
- Winnipeg has the largest mature elm tree urban forest in North America with approximately 160,000 elms.
- Winnipeg has the sunniest winter season in Canada with 358 hours of sunshine.
- Université de Saint-Boniface is the very first educational institution in Western Canada (dating back to 1818) and helped to found the University of Manitoba in 1877.
- The Royal Canadian Mint produces all of Canada’s circulation coins and currency for 60 governments around the globe. We highly recommend taking a tour when you visit and holding a bar of gold.
- The Winnipeg Art Gallery has the world’s largest collection of contemporary Inuit art.
- Winnipeg boasts one of the longest skating trails in the world. Starting downtown at The Forks, the trail leads skaters down the Red and Assiniboine Rivers over a length of up to 9 kilometres and features warming huts designed by architects from all over the world.
- Bobby Hull of the Winnipeg Jets was hockey’s first million-dollar player.
- St. Laurent has the largest concentration of Métis people in North America.
- Paul Faraci invented Pizza Pops in Winnipeg in 1964.
- There have been times when Winnipeg was colder than Mars. So, to pay respect, or maybe out of pity, NASA has named a plot of land on the red planet after Winnipeg.
- Winnipeg was one of the major commands for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan to train fighter pilots, and there were air training schools throughout Manitoba during the second world war. This is why their NHL team is named the Winnipeg Jets.
Fun, Festivals, and Travel-related Facts about Manitoba
Now let’s dig into 33 facts about Manitoba that relate to festivals, fun, and travel. Please note that most of the travel-related facts about Winnipeg can be found in the Winnipeg section above.
- For those who love lakes, Manitoba is paradise. The province is home to more than 100,000 lakes, many of which are perfect for fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and swimming.
- Speaking of lakes, Lake Winnipeg is the tenth-largest freshwater lake in the world. You can visit and enjoy the beaches.
- In fact, Grand Beach is known as one of the top lake beaches in North America.
- There’s lots of nature in Manitoba as well, including two national parks. The easiest national park to visit is Riding National Park, which is near the border of Saskatchewan. Wapusk National Park, on the other hand, is near Churchill, Manitoba, and requires a flight or train to reach as there are no roads going that far north.
- Manitoba’s highest point (Baldy Mountain at 831 metres) is located in Duck Mountain Provincial Park.
- Churchill, Manitoba, is Canada’s most northerly port. The Port of Churchill is Canada’s only Arctic deep-water port and the shortest shipping route between North America and Asia.
- Speaking of Churchill, it is known as the polar bear capital of the world! If you want to see the ferocious white bears, you’ll want to visit during September and October.
- Wapusk National Park in northern Manitoba is the world’s largest denning site for polar bears.
- Churchill is also known as the “unofficial” beluga whale capital of the world thanks to the massive migration that moves through the chilly water of Hudson Bay during the summer months. We’ve actually snorkelled with the beluga whales, which instantly became one of the coolest things we’ve ever done.
- As if that’s not enough, Churchill is also one of the top 3 places in the world to see the Northern Lights. Also known as Aurora Borealis, they can be seen throughout the year but are best during the fall and winter when the sun sets earlier.
- You don’t have to go to Saudi Arabia to see sand dunes. Just head to Spruce Woods Provincial Park near Brandon, Manitoba and hike the sand dunes, which can reach as high as 30 metres in height!
- Manitoba is home to the largest Icelandic community outside of Iceland. Located only 85 kilometres from Winnipeg on the shores of Lakes Winnipeg, Gimli is home to beaches, local shops and restaurants, and the popular Gimli Film Festival. The community hosts an Icelandic Festival known as Islendingadagurinn every summer as well.
- Everyone loves snakes, right? Right? Well, you’re in luck! Located just 110 kilometres north of Winnipeg, the Narcisse Snake Dens are a major mating ground for garter snakes. In May, during the mating season’s peak, you can see thousands of snakes in the pits, making it a great day trip for nature lovers.
- The real James Bond is in Manitoba. Well, not quite, but Sir William Stephenson, the man who inspired the spy character James Bond, was born and raised in Winnipeg.
- Another famous character is from Manitoba as well. However, he’s more into eating honey than he is into fighting crime. Winnie the Pooh, Disney’s beloved character, got its name from Winnipeg! During World War I, Winnipegger Lieutenant Harry Colebourn grew fond of a baby black bear that he had purchased and nicknamed “Winnie.” It’s sad to think that bears could be purchased as pets but history is history. You can check out his commemorative statue at Assiniboine Park.
- Manitoba’s Little Limestone Lake is the finest and largest example of a marl lake in the world, meaning it changes colour with fluctuations in temperature.
- Snow White illustrator Charles Thorson grew up in Gimli. It is widely believed that the Snow White character created for Disney Studios was based on a waitress Thorson met at a diner in the West End of Winnipeg.
- Manitoba has produced many famous musicians such as Neil Young, Burton Cummings/The Guess Who, Randy Bachman/Bachman Turner Overdrive, Chantal Kreviazuk, The Weakerthans, Crash Test Dummies, Tom Cochrane, Bif Naked, Fred Penner, Bob Rock and Al Simmons, just to name a few.
- There are also some great actors from Manitoba, such as Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), Adam Beach (Flags of Our Fathers, Suicide Squad) and Anna Paquin (X-Men, True Blood).
- There are also quite a few Olympians from Manitoba. Susan Auch (speed skater), Clara Hughes (cyclist and speed skater), Cindy Klassen (speed skater), Jennifer Jones (curling), and many more have made the cut.
- For literary, Manitoba boasts authors Carol Shields, Margaret Laurence, Miriam Toews, Patrick Friesen and Gabrielle Roy.
- The Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre in Morden has the largest collection of prehistoric marine fossils in North America, including the world’s largest publicly displayed Mosasaur. His name is Bruce.
- In addition, the world’s largest trilobite known as Isotelus rex was discovered in northern Manitoba and can be seen at the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg.
- Manitoba is also home to some of the biggest festivals in Canada. One of them is Folklorama, which is held in Winnipeg each August and is the world’s largest and longest-running multicultural festival featuring over 44 cultural pavilions.
- Another famous festival is the Winnipeg Folk Festival, which is one of the oldest and largest folk festivals in the world.
- Manitoba’s Festival du Voyageur is Western Canada’s largest winter festival.
- The Pas is home to the Northern Manitoba Trapper’s Festival, which happens to be Manitoba’s oldest winter festival, established in 1916.
- Manito Ahbee is the largest Pow Wow gathering in Canada and the second largest in North America.
- Lower Fort Garry was the first training base for the North West Mounted Police. It is also home to some very interesting Canadian history and is one of the top things to do near Manitoba.
- In Southern Manitoba, right at the border, is the International Peace Garden, which is devoted to world peace, It sits along the world’s longest unfortified border with the U.S. and Canada, serving as a symbol of friendship.
- The world’s largest curling rock resides in Arborg, Manitoba, located outside of the Arborg-Bifrost Curling Club. The massive rock measures 4.2 metres.
- Speaking of curling, Manitoba has more curling clubs than Ontario and Quebec combined and it is often referred to as the “Curling Capital of the World”.
- As if that wasn’t enough, Winnipeg is also home to the Granite Curling Club, the oldest curling club in western Canada.
Want More Cool Facts About Canada?
As interesting as these Manitoba facts are, there’s so much more to Canada. From the massive city of Toronto to the humble banks of Newfoundland, there are lots of fun facts about the second-largest country on Earth. Learn more below: