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Definition: Manitoba from Merriam-Webster's Collegiate(R) Dictionary

province S

cen Canada ✽ Winnipeg area 211,468 sq mi (547,703 sq km), pop 1,148,401

Man•i•to•ban \-bən\ adj or n


Summary Article: Manitoba from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Province in central Canada, the easternmost of the Prairie Provinces. Bounded to the south, on the 49th parallel, by the US states of Minnesota (in the east) and North Dakota (in the west); to the west by Saskatchewan; to the north, on the 60th parallel, by the Northwest Territories and Hudson Bay; and to the east by Ontario; area 647,797 sq km/251,000 sq mi; population (2001 est) 1,150,000. The capital is Winnipeg, and other towns and cities include Brandon, Thompson, St Boniface, Churchill, Flin Flon, Portage La Prairie, and The Pas. Lakes Winnipeg, Winnipegosis, and Manitoba (area 4,700 sq km/1,814 sq mi) are in the province, which is 50% forested. Industries include production of grain and food-processing; manufacture of machinery; fur-trapping; fishing; mining of nickel, zinc, copper, and the world's largest deposits of caesium (a metallic element used in the manufacture of photocells).

Features The province can be divided into two distinct parts, the north and the south, whose boundary is marked by a succession of lakes (the largest of which is Lake Winnipeg). The area of the northern section is approximately twice that of the southern section and forms part of the Canadian (or Laurentian) Shield; this region is sparsely populated. The southern part is prairie land. The principal rivers of Manitoba all form part of the Hudson Bay watershed. They include the Red River (of the North), which flows north from Minnesota and North Dakota, enters Lake Winnipeg, and then drains into Hudson Bay; this is the southernmost river in the Hudson Bay watershed. The Assiniboine River, which joins the Red River at Winnipeg, and the Winnipeg River, which flows into the southeast of Lake Winnipeg, are also parts of this watershed. At 831 m/2,727 ft, the highest point in the province is Baldy Mountain, which lies 60 km/40 mi southwest of Lake Winnipegosis. Recreational areas in Manitoba include Riding Mountain National Park, Duck Mountain and Whiteshell provincial parks, the International Peace Garden (on the North Dakota border near Boissevain), and Hecla Island in Lake Winnipeg.

Economic activities Agriculture is limited to the southern prairie area, where over 90% of the land is occupied. Most of the improved land is under field crops, mainly wheat and barley, but in the cooler northern districts large areas of oats are grown. Most farms do, however, keep livestock (cattle and sheep), which are not allowed to graze on the open range but are fed in enclosures on hay, clover, and fodder crops. Only in the vicinity of Winnipeg are substantial numbers of dairy cattle kept for milk and butter. Grain and other produce is transported by rail to Winnipeg for processing or to the seasonal port of Churchill on Hudson Bay for direct export. Many farms are comparatively small, averaging 300 ha/740 acres, but they are highly developed; the farmers depend for their livelihood on the overseas sales of wheat. The Canadian government, through various pieces of legislation such as the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act, made loans available for farmers, and through the Canadian Wheat Board took over from the farmer the problem of negotiating and financing overseas sales. However, large-scale agribusiness is increasingly taking over from smaller farming concerns. Large quantities of freshwater fish are caught in the numerous lakes. While the south is the agricultural hub of the province, the north is the main mineral-producing area. A wide range of mineral ores (including copper, zinc, and nickel) are extracted from a series of very rich ore belts within the Canadian Shield. In the Rice-Beresford Lakes district gold is mined, and other deposits in the north include zinc, copper, silver, selenium, tellurium, and cadmium. Lignite has been found in the Manitoba portion of the Turtle Mountains, and hard coal in the southeast. Two of the principal mining centres are Thompson, north of Lake Winnipeg, and Flin Flon, on the Saskatchewan border.

History Prior to European encroachment, the region was home to the Assiniboine, Sioux, Cree, Chippewa, and other American Indian peoples. Isolated trading posts and forts were built here by French fur traders in the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1670, the British government granted the whole area to the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), which set up the remote trading post of York Factory on the Bay, at the mouth of the Hayes River, southeast of Churchill. However, Anglo-French rivalry continued, not even ceasing when French colonialism collapsed at the end of the French and Indian War (1756–63). A community of Métis, people of mixed French and Indian parentage, now challenged British supremacy. The Métis allied themselves with the Montréal-based North West Company (NWC), which bitterly contested control with the Hudson's Bay Company. In 1812, the British established the first large-scale settlement in the area, by locating dispossessed Scottish Highlanders and poor Irish peasant farmers around what is now Winnipeg. The entire region was named the Red River Settlement. Fighting broke out with French-speaking inhabitants, and culminated in the Seven Oaks massacre of 1816. In 1821, the merger between the HBC and NWC seemed to signal an end to strife, but further social unrest was to erupt in 1869, when the new dominion of Canada purchased the Red River Settlement. This provoked an uprising of the Métis under the leadership of Louis Riel (1869–70). The Red River rebellion was based around Fort Garry (Winnipeg) and was swiftly suppressed. The Canadian government then incorporated the area as a province in 1870, giving it the name Manitoba. At its foundation, Manitoba comprised only a small area around the lower Red River, but it expanded in 1881, and again in 1912, with land taken from the Northwest Territories. The Canadian Pacific Railway's extension through Winnipeg and across the south in the 1880s stimulated widespread farm settlement, and in the late 19th and early 20th centuries Manitoba became home to Ukrainians, German Mennonites from Russia, Icelanders, and other Europeans, as well as to homesteaders from the neighbouring USA and Ontario.

Geology The north and south of Manitoba are also geologically quite distinct. The Precambrian rocks of the Canadian Shield in the north have been eroded to form a low-lying rolling surface that was subjected to severe glacial scouring during the Quaternary period. The surface is one of lakes, bare rock, and forest-covered glacial deposits. The lake fringe marks the point at which the Shield dips under the sedimentary rocks of the continental interior and they owe their origin to differential erosion and ice gouging at the junction of hard and soft rock types. The rocks of the southern part of the province are of Cretaceous age, laid down by rivers flowing eastwards from the Rocky Mountains. As a result of repeated uplifts the prairies form three distinct levels or steps, two of which are to be found in Manitoba. The first is the Manitoba Vale, which extends westwards from the edge of the shield over all but the west and southwestern part of the province. It has an average elevation of 250 m/820 ft above sea level. The boundary between the two steps is marked by a series of low hill masses, the Pembina Mountains, Riding Mountains, and Duck Mountains. The surface of the first step is generally flat while that of the second is more rolling. The Canadian Shield area is almost devoid of soils and those that have formed are highly acidic in reaction and consequently are of little agricultural value. The soils of the prairie on the other hand are deep and fertile, reflecting the ease with which the soft parent material could be broken down and the centuries of natural grass cover which led to the development of black and dark brown soils (mollisols) with very high humus contents. The clay deposits of the former Lake Agassiz have developed into rich black meadow soils.

Climate The climate of the province is continental in type and is therefore extreme and variable. The average annual range of temperature varies between 21°C/70°F and 27°C/81°F. Winters are extremely cold. The average January temperature is around −23 °C/−9°F, but can fall as low as −40 °C/−40°F, and July temperatures are around 19°C/66°F, but often reach 32–38°C/90–100°F. Most of the annual precipitation of about 500 mm/20 in falls during the late spring and summer, when it is most needed for plant growth. Snowfalls are slight. On average the growing season varies between 100 and 120 days.

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