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Manitoba, Canada

MANITOBA, a province of the Dominion of Canada, bounded on the S. by the United States, and on the N.E. and W. by the North West Territories of the Dominion. It extends from 49° to 50° 30 N. lat., and from 90° to 99° W. lon., and comprises an area of 14,340 square miles, or 9,177.000 acres.

The name Manitoba, taken from a large lake, a part of which lies in the province, is a contraction, made by the old French Canadian voyageurs, of the Cree word Manito-waban. Manila signifies supernatural, divine spirit; and waban means a strait. As the waters of a strait in that lake are agitated in an unusual way, the Indians believed formerly there was therein something supernatural, a spirit that moved them, and so they called the lake Manitowaban. The agricultural capabilities of its soil cannot be exceeded for many things. The most part of the province is prairie land perfectly level and diversified by groups of elm, ash, oak, poplar, basswood, and ash-leaf maple, (negondo frosi ni folia.) It is a rich, black mould resting partly on a limestone formation and partly on a thick coat of hard clay. Manure, not indispensable at first, is as useful here as elsewhere. It has not been used much so far, on account of the large amount of land possessed by each of the inhabitants, which circumstance enables them not to sow the same grain several years running. Wheat ripens in 110 days and gives an average return of 20 to 25 bushels to the acre. All kinds of garden vegetables, as well as oats, barley, Indian corn, hops, flax, hemp, potatoes, and other root crops are easily raised. The grassy savannas of Red River afford unlimited pasturage ranges, as long as unploughed.

The climate of Manitoba, though very severe in winter, is nevertheless occasionally hot in summer. The mean for the three winter months of Dec, Jan., and Feb., is 5° below ; and for the summer months of June, July, and August, 65°. Though the winter is extremely cold, it is mitigated by a clear, dry atmosphere. A population more healthy than the Manitobans cannot be met anywhere.

The province is entirely level, and so much so that it is void of any scenery whatsoever.

The principal rivers are the Assiniboine, 480 miles long, and Red River, 665 miles long, 525 of which are in the United States. The largest lakes (only a part of which, however, are in Manitoba) are Winnipeg, 280 miles long and 5 to 57 miles wide, and Manitoba, 110 miles long and 25 wide.

Manitoba is divided into four electoral districts for Dominion elections, viz: Selkirk, Provencher, Lisgar, and Marquette, each of which sends 1 member to the House of Commons.

Winnipeg is the capital of the province. Fort Garry (the mercantile establishment of the Hon. Hudson's Bay Company) is the temporary residence of the governor, while the government departments are in Winnipeg, a small but rapidly growing town which includes Fort Garry in its limits. There are two bishops in the province : the Archbishop of St. Boniface (Roman Catholic), residing at St. Boniface, east side of the Red River, facing Winnipeg and Fort Garry: and the Lord Bishop of Rupert's Laud (Church of England), residing at St. John, below Winnipeg, west side of the Red River.

The public affairs are administered by a Lieutenant Governor, an Executive Council of 5 members, a Legislative Council of 7 members, appointed for life, and a Legislative Assembly of 24 members, elected every 4 years. Justice is dispensed by a Chief Justice and two puisne judges.

There are four religious denominations in Manitoba. The Roman Catholics are the most numerous. They have a cathedral and 10 churches, and about 3,000 adherents. The Episcopalians have a cathedral, 14 churches, over 900 communicants and about 14 clergy. The Presbyterians have 4 churches and 4 preaching stations. The Wesleyan Methodists are as yet numerically small, but making steady progress. There are also small groups of Baptists and some Unitarians.

The province is well provided with educational institutions. It has three colleges, St. John's (Church of England), St. Boniface (Roman Catholic), and Kildonan (Presbyterian), a Convent, 3 Protestant Ladies Schools, and 40 common schools, 20 amongst the Protestants and 20 amongst the Roman Catholics. The Sisters of Charity from Montreal have a large Convent at St Boniface, an academy for young ladies, an orphanage, and four missions in the province. The school system established by law is entirely denominational or separate. Pop. of province in 1871, 11,953, viz:

St. Boniface 821
St. Vital 366
St. Norbert 1,098
St. Agathe 365
Winnipeg 215
St. John 326
Kildonan 343
St. Paul's 354
St. Andrews (south) 652
St. Andrews (north) 832
St. Clements 447
St. Peters 918
Scanterbury 17
St. Anne 323
St. James and Fort 448
Headingly 332
St. Francois Xavier 1,837
St. Paul's 6
St. Charles 335
White Mud Portage 544
West Home Mission
High Bluff 275
Poplar Point 512
Oak Point 142
Lake Manitoba 145
St. Paul's in Hay 316
Long Lake 93
Total 11,953

In 1873, telegraphic communication was established between Manitoba and the United Slates.

There are no railways in the province, but several are projected. One from Fort Garry to Pembina will connect Manitoba with the railway system of the United States. It is a branch of the Canada Pacific, and has to be finished by Dec, 1874. The Canada Pacific, which will pass through the Province, will add immensely to its growth and prosperity.

Steamers ply on Red River, between Fort Garry and Moorhead, Minnesota, a station of the American Northern Pacific Railway, on the Red River.

Fort Garry is now reached by way of St. Paul, Moorhead and Pembina; also by the Dawson or Canadian route from the head of Lake Superior. Distant from Montreal 1,586 miles. When the Canada Pacific Railway is built this distance will be reduced to 1,200 miles.

Every bona fide settler receives a homestead or a free grant of 100 acres of land.

The total value of imports for 1872 was $942,247; exports $841.

This section of North America was first visited by the French. Chevalier de la Vérandrye built a fort at the mouth of the Assiniboine in 1731. The French continued to trade there alone for many } r ears, but in 1767 the first English traders visited it, a id soon several rival companies were in operation. These finally dwindled into the famous North West Company, which in its turn was absorbed by the Hudson's Bay Company, chartered by King Charles II in 1670. The latter company having sold a tract of land to the Hon. Thomas Douglas, Earl of Selkirk, on both sides of the Assiniboine and of the Red River, his lordship planted there, in 1812, a colony known by the name of Selkirk Settlement, Red River Settlement, or also Assiniboia. In 1836 the Hudson's Bay Company repurchased from the heirs of Lord Selkirk the same tract of land ceded to his lordship in 1811, and continued to exercise author-ity over that portion of Rupert's Land by the appointment of the Governor and Council of Assiniboia, which, in course of time, especially after the settlers had declared independence of trade in 1849, formed a rather independent administration for the local affairs in the colony, the limits of which extended but fifty miles around Fort Garry. It is that colony that now forms the greatest part of the new province of Manitoba.

The Hudson's Bay Company never claimed any proprietary rights on the North West Territories proper. These territories formerly included nothing but the lands east of the Rocky Mountains, watered by the rivers running towards the Arctic Sea. The Charter of the Company merely included Rupert's Land, i.e., the lands watered by the tributaries of Hudson's Bay.

These two immense portions of country outside of the province of Manitoba are now known by the same name of North West Territories.

In March, 1869, the Hudson's Bay Company agreed to hand to the Imperial Government their territorial rights and governing responsibilities, and on the l6th of July, 1870, England handed the whole to the Canadian government. It was during that period that the Red River troubles took place. The transactions between England and Canada, as well as the Hudson's Bay Company, having been made without consulting and even paying any attention to the government and people of Assiniboia, a deep feeling of uneasiness arose, and the Canadian authorities coming into the country before the transfer, met resistance. In the meantime a provisional government was formed by the settlers to secure their rights and come to an agreement with the Dominion of Canada, delegates were sent to Ottawa for that purpose and treated with the proper authorities. England urged the Ottawa Government to satisfy the people of Red River. Then the Bill of Manitoba and other guarantees were agreed to, and thereby the entry of Manitoba into the Confederation was effected.

The first missionary known as having visited the country is the Rev. Père Messager who accompanied Chevalier de la Vérandrye in 1731. At the time of the Conquest the Catholic missions were abandoned ; they were resumed in 1818 by the Revs. J. N. Provencher and S J. N. Dumoulin, from Quebec.

The Rev J. N. Provencher was consecrated bishop of Juhopolis in 1822, and afterwards nominated bishop of St. Boniface That see was created an Archbishopric in 1871, and is now occupied by the Most Rev Alexandre Taché, D.D

A Church of England bishopric was created in 1849. Rev David Anderson, was the first bishop of Rupert's Laud, and was succeeded by the Right Rev. Robert Machray, D.D

Lovell's Gazetteer of British North America, Edited by P.A. Crossby, 1873


Lovell's Gazetteer of British North America

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