Capital of Manitoba, Canada, at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, 65 km/40 mi south of Lake Winnipeg, 30 km/20 mi north of the US border; population (2001 est) 709,400. It is a focus for trans-Canada and Canada–US traffic, and a market and transhipment point for wheat and other produce from the Prairie Provinces: Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. Processed foods, textiles, farming machinery, and transport equipment are manufactured. Established as Winnipeg in 1870 on the site of earlier forts, the city expanded with the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1881.
History The area was originally inhabited by Native Canadian Assiniboine and Cree peoples. In 1738 the French-Canadian explorer Pierre Gaultier de la Vérendrye constructed Fort Rouge on the future site of Winnipeg. The fort had been long-abandoned by 1810, when the Northwestern Company set up Fort Gibraltar, a fur-trading post. A community of Scottish and Irish settlers arrived in the area in 1812, forming the Red River Colony, and in 1822 the Hudson's Bay Company re-established the trading post with the construction of Upper Fort Garry (replaced by Lower Fort Garry in 1831). Winnipeg became the main community of the Red River Settlement and, in July 1870, was declared capital of the newly created province of Manitoba. In 1878 a rail link was completed between St Boniface, across the Red River, and St Paul, Minnesota, USA, providing connections to Chicago, and Detroit. The Canadian Pacific Railway reached Winnipeg in 1881 and was extended to Vancouver in 1885.
The city developed rapidly as a prosperous rail hub at the entrance to the prairie lands of the west; immigration from Europe more than trebled the population in the first decade of the 20th century. In 1972 it annexed several adjacent communities, including St Boniface, to become the largest Canadian city west of Toronto, and the fourth-largest city in Canada. Flooding has always been a serious problem in Winnipeg, and the Winnipeg Floodway was opened in 1968 to protect the city.
Education and culture Winnipeg is the principal educational, cultural, and tourist centre of the province. It is the seat of the University of Manitoba (1877) and University of Winnipeg (1947), and the site of the Centennial Centre Complex, containing the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature, with a planetarium; and the Concert Hall, home to the city's symphony orchestra, theatre, and ballet companies. Other places of interest include the Winnipeg Art Gallery, with a large collection of Inuit Art; the Forks National Historic Site, on the old fur-trading grounds at the junction of the rivers; the Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Centre; the Transcona Regional History Museum; and the Manitoba Children's Museum. The zoo in Assiniboine park was founded in 1905.
Architecture Notable structures include the copper-domed Manitoba Legislative Building (1924), and the Neo-Romanesque St Boniface Cathedral, rebuilt after a fire in 1968 and the burial place of Louis Riel, leader of a Native Canadian Métis uprising in 1885. The St Boniface Museum is housed in a building dating from 1846; it is the oldest building in Winnipeg and the largest log structure in North America. The Old Market Square and Exchange District have been restored and feature late 19th- and early 20th-century buildings.
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