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Manitoba

Manitoba is one of the ten Canadian provinces. Manitoba’s independence from the Northern Territories was recognized in 1870. It is the eastern of the prairies provinces and Winnipeg is the capital and most populated city. Almost half the Manitobans live there.


The origins

Three tribes -the cree, the assiniboines and the ojibwa- were the inhabitants of Manitoba before the arrival of the Europeans.

The first European explorers came from a British expedition. From that point on started a progressive population growth that did not stop until the 1920s, in a similar way as happened in Saskatchewan. Canadians from other areas, Germans, Ukrainians, British, Scottish and Irish made their homes in Manitoba.

Manitoba’s main identity feature is it massive prairie and its huge forests. Although it is an inland province, water has an important prominence in Manitoba’s landscape: the area is covered by peppered with lakes, marshes and rivers that remain frozen during the winter.

Economics

Manitoba has a strong economy based in the exploit of it natural resources, agriculture, tourism, oil, mining and forestry. Geologically, the ground is rich in minerals and natural resources and very fertile. This immediately translates into a prosperous agriculture: wheat, oat, soy… Manitoba is the biggest national producer of sunflower seed and dry beans and one of the main potato sources, providing well-known chains such as McDonalds and Wendy’s.

Climate

Winnipeg has an extreme humid continental climate, with a significant temperature oscillation due to the lack of mountains and the big distance to sea.

From December to February, maximum daily temperature only goes above 0 °C approximately 10 days per year while the minimum daily temperature can easily fall to -20 °C. The cold and snow storms continue until April although, in general, winter temperatures start getting milder at the end of February. Winnipeg, with a population is 600,000, is considered the coolest city in the world.

Education

Manitoba’s first school was founded 1812, on the banks of Red River. After 1818 missionaries of the Catholic Church started building catholic schools in the region. Until the 1870s, primary education was only imparted by religious institutions. However, the public education system is implemented upon creation of the Education Board. This education system is nowadays considered by the PISA report as one of the best ones in the world.

Canadian schools are now managed by different School Boards and education is mandatory for children age 7 to age 16. Manitoba has four universities: Manitoba University (located in Winnipeg), Winnipeg University, Brandon University and St. Boniface University, located in St. Boniface, a suburban are in Winnipeg. There are also 38 public libraries.

Major cities in Manitoba:

WINNIPEG:

Is the capital of the province and seventh biggest city in Canada, with a population of 700,000. City is organized around two rivers: the Red and the Assiniboine. They flow among historical buildings and numerous parks such as Assoniboine Park or Birds Hill Provincial Park.

Winnipeg is also surrounded by lakes: Lake of the Woods, Lake Winnipeg (12th biggest lake in the world) and Lake Manitoba.

Winnipeg downtown is the financial heart of the city and the rest of the urban area develops from it, always influenced by the rivers that surround the city.

BRANDON:

Is the second biggest city in Manitoba and is located in the Southeast part of the province. The Spruce Woods Provincial Park and the CFB Shilo are located at a short distance towards the southeast part of the city and Lake Minnedosa is only half an hour towards the north.

Interesting facts

Authorities have identified around 900 polar bears that live in the small town of Churchill. Therefore, they advise its inhabitants to take certain precautions: nobody goes out in the street unarmed during the time that the polar bears walk around the town and, as an additional precaution, locals leave their houses and cars unlocked in case they (o anyone else) need to take quick refuge.

Cinema is an old friend of the city of Winnipeg. Guy Maddin is one of the most singular film directors of our time. This Canadian filmed the extravagant documentary My Winnipeg. A surreal short film inspired by his home town, Winnipeg. In My Winnipeg, Maddin combines dreamlike images with deformed memories and several hallucinations. He tries to make a statement about the power of the collective and individual memory, about the manipulative role of the movies and about fear, past and existence.

A number of well-known films have been shot in Winnipeg: Cinderella Man, featuring Russell Crowe and Renée Zellweger; The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert, 2007 western featuring Brad Pitt; or Aloft, featuring Jennifer Connelly and directed by Claudia Llosa, niece of the Nobel Prize, Mario Vargas Llosa.