75 Fun & Interesting Facts about Manitoba, Canada

Manitoba is a province lying at the centre of Canada. Learn about the many things “Friendly Manitoba” is known for with these 75 informative, interesting, and fun facts about Manitoba!

The facts are below organized into general facts about the province, random interesting facts, and finally some facts about Manitoba history.

General Manitoba Facts

  • It is also the easternmost province of the Canadian prairie provinces (which includes Alberta and Saskatchewan). Despite being a prairie province, only about a third of the province is grasslands.
  • It also has 645 km (400 mi) of saltwater coastline on Hudson’s Bay.
  • Manitoba is roughly equidistant from the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. In other words, it is at the longitudinal centre of Canada. Because of this, it is sometimes called the “keystone province”.
  • At 647,797 km2 (250,116 mi2), Manitoba is the 6th largest province in Canada, or 8th largest if the territories are included.  
  • Manitoba is larger than Great Britain and Honshu (the main island of Japan) combined.  
Buildings of downtown Winnipeg
Downtown Winnipeg
  • If it were a country, Manitoba would be the 41st largest in the world (the same thing can be said about neighbouring Saskatchewan).
  • Manitoba is home to 1.39 million people, less than the city of Calgary or Montreal, or less than half the city of Vancouver or Toronto.
  • Manitoba’s capital city, Winnipeg, is home to 750,000 people. More than half the province lives in the capital, the only such city in Canada. It is the 7th largest city in Canada by population, between Ottawa and Quebec City.
  • People from Manitoba are called Manitobans.
  • Many people consider Manitobans to be the friendliest in all of Canada, and the provincial license plate says “Friendly Manitoba.”
Esplanade Riel, a footbridge in Winnipeg, at night
Esplanade Riel footbridge in Winnipeg is named after Louis Riel.
  • Manitoba is home to Cree, Ojibway, Ojibway-Cree, Dakota, and Dene First Nations. Manitoba’s land is mainly covered by Treaties 1 through 5.   
  • 18% of Manitobans are indigenous or Métis, more than any other province (but not as much as any of the territories).
  • A key figure in Manitoba history was the Métis leader Louis Riel, who was born in Quebec and whose actions helped to create the province of Manitoba. A footbridge in Winnipeg called Esplanade Riel is named after him.
  • Churchill, Manitoba, on Hudson’s Bay, is considered the best place in all of Canada to see polar bears and is often called the “Polar bear capital of the world.” The bears congregate on the shores there when Hudson’s Bay begins to freeze over.
The Manitoba flag
The flag of Manitoba
  • The flag of Manitoba features the Union Jack on a red background, plus the provincial shield of arms, which has a bison (the official provincial mammal) below Saint George’s Cross.
  • The name Manitoba is derived from manitou, which means “fundamental life force” in the Cree and Ojibwa languages.

Random Interesting Facts about Manitoba

  • The world’s largest mosasaur, a swimming reptile from the Cretaceous period, was found in Manitoba. Named Bruce the Mosasaur, it is on display in the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre in Morden in the province’s far south. The mosasaur is also the province’s official fossil.
  • Manitoba’s landscape includes Arctic tundra in the north, boreal forest in the centre, and prairies in the south. About 2/3rd of the province is part of the Canadian Shield, a rocky landscape that is covered with trees or tundra.
Sand dunes with blue sky in Manitoba
Unusual sand dunes in Spruce Woods Provincial Park
  • Manitoba has over 110,000 lakes covering more than 15% of its surface.
  • Manitoba’s shallow Lake Winnipeg is the 6th largest lake in Canada, 3rd largest lake that is not shared with the US, and 12th largest lake in the world. All of Belize or Israel could fit inside the lake.
  • Nearby Lake Winnipegosis and Lake Manitoba are the 11th and 14th largest lakes in Canada, respectively.
  • The Port of Churchill is the closest Canadian port to Europe, nautically speaking, and is the only major Canadian port not connected to the rest of Canada by road, although there is a railway line going there.
A dock leading out onto Lake Winnipeg
Vast but shallow Lake Winnipeg
  • Manitoba has one UNESCO World Heritage Site: Pimachiowin Aki, a forest and wetlands region that is the ancestral homeland of the Anishinaabeg indigenous people who today inhabit the Great Lakes region of Canada and the USA. It was designated in 2018 and is shared with Ontario.
  • There are 92 provincial parks in Manitoba, more than Saskatchewan (39) or Ontario (45), but less than Alberta (400+) or British Columbia (around 1000).
A bison surrounded by greenery in Riding Mountain National Park
A bison, the provincial mammal, in Riding Mountain National Park
  • Manitoba is one of the sunniest provinces in Canada, with the clearest year-round skies in the country.
  • The highest temperature ever recorded in Manitoba was 44.4°C (112°F) in 1932, while the lowest was −52.8°C (−63°F) in 1899. That’s a difference of just under 100 degrees Celsius (or 175 degree Fahrenheit).
  • The strongest recorded earthquake in Canada struck the Manitoba town of Ellie in 2007. It was level F5, the highest possible, and threw one car 100 meters. No one died.
  • The town of Gimli on Lake Winnipeg has the largest Icelandic population outside of Iceland. Once called New Iceland, it was settled by fishermen from Iceland in the 1870s. Today it is home to the New Iceland Heritage Museum.
Viking statue on Gimli, Manitoba
Viking Statue in Gimli, known for its Icelandic population
  • Manitoba’s economy is based on natural resources such as agriculture, oil, mining, and forestry. It is the nation’s largest producer of sunflower seeds and dried beans. Tourism, especially to Churchill, is also a big contributor.
  • The last Canadian penny (1 cent coin) was printed at the Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg in 2012.
  • Rural Manitoba is politically conservative, while Winnipeg is liberal. With the population being roughly 50-50, the province can go either way politically.
  • Manitoba was the birthplace of the Red River Jig, a traditional First National and Métis dance with fiddle music, combining indigenous and European elements.
  • The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is the oldest in Canada and longest continually running in North America, dating to 1939.
A mosaic of famous people from Manitoba
Famous Manitobans William Stephenson, Cindy Klassen, Margaret Laurence, Tom Cochrane, Crash Test Dummies, and Murray Sinclair (clockwise from top left)
  • Famous bands or musicians from Manitoba include The Guess Who (a precursor to Bachman-Turner Overdrive), Burton Cummings, Tom Cochrane, Crash Test Dummies, The Watchmen, The Weakerthans, William Prince, and Comeback Kid.
  • Neil Young was born in Toronto but grew up in Manitoba.
  • Artists Bertram Brooker and Kal Barteski, cartoonist Lynn Johnston, novelist Margaret Laurence, speed skater Cindy Klassen, curler Jennifer Jones, and First Nations former senator Murray Sinclair are also Manitobans.
  • No Canadian prime minister has ever been born in Manitoba.
  • Manitoban soldier William Stephenson is thought by many to be the inspiration for James Bond.
Slurpees from 7-Eleven
Manitobans love their Slurpees.
  • The films Capote, The Stone Angel, and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford were shot in Manitoba.
  • Things invented in Manitoba include canola oil, garbage bags, spongee (a simpler version of hockey), the Shocknife (a knife that doesn’t stab but produces an electrical shock for police training), Boler (an iconic Canadian trailer), paint rollers, and murderball (wheelchair rugby).
  • The famous companies A&W, SkipTheDishes, Old Dutch, Hudson’s Bay Company, and Ben Moss Jewelers started in Manitoba.
  • People in Manitoba drink more 7-Eleven Slurpees than anywhere else. Winnipeg has even been called the Slurpee Capital of the World.
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba was the first city in North America to have a central emergency phone line. At first it was 999, but later changed to 911 like in the US.
An original boler trailer parked in a back yard
The classic Boler trailer was invented in Manitoba.
  • In northern Manitoba, there is a whole festival devoted to trapping, dog racing, and other Arctic activities. It is has been running for 75 years.
  • Manitoba was home to the Winnipeg Jets NHL (hockey) team, which in 1996 moved to Phoenix, Arizona and are now called the Arizona Coyotes. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg in 2011 and took on the name Winnipeg Jets.
  • The Winnipeg Blue Bombers CFL (football) team have been in more Grey Cup finals than any other CFL team and have won it 12 times.
  • There is thought to be a Loch Ness Monster-like creature in Lake Manitoba called the Manipogo. It has a provincial park named after it.

Manitoba Historical Facts

  • At the time of the dinosaurs, much of Manitoba was covered by a shallow saltwater sea.
  • After glaciers covering Manitoba began to retreat at the end of the last ice age (around 12,000 years ago), First Nations people moved into the area, beginning in Manitoba’s southwest.
Hudson's Bay shoreline with ice on it
The first Europeans reached Manitoba via icy Hudson’s Bay.
  • In 1611, Henry Hudson sailed into Hudson’s Bay. After his ship got stuck in the ice over winter, his crew mutinied and abandoned him.
  • In 1668 to 1669, the British trading ship Nonsuch sailed into Hudson’s Bay, leading to the formation of Hudsons’ Bay Company. A replica of the ship is today on display in the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg.
  • In 1670, the area of Manitoba became part of Rupert’s Land, a vast region of Canada owned by Hudson’s Bay Company.
  • In 1684, Hudson’s Bay Company built its original fort, York Factory, on the coast of Manitoba. The Prince of Wales Fort near Churchill followed in 1717.
  • In the 1730s, French explorers reached the Red River Valley in southern Manitoba and traded with indigenous people in southern Manitoba.
Ruins of Prince of Wales Fort surrounded by a snowy landscape
Remains of the Prince of Wales Fort in Churchill
  • Hudsons’ Bay Company and the French Northwest Company competed in Manitoba until the two merged in 1870.
  • In 1812, the British Lord Selkirk developed an agricultural community in the Red River Valley, but came into conflict with the local Métis people.
  • When Canada purchased Rupert’s Land (including Manitoba) in 1870, it was added to the Northwest Territories.
  • Métis leader Louis Riel was unsatisfied with the lack of inclusion of the Métis people, so he led the Red River Rebellion. This led to the Manitoba Act, and Manitoba became the  5th province of Canada in 1870, with Winnipeg as its capital.
  • The name Assiniboia was almost chosen before Manitoba. Louis Riel preferred the latter.
A painting of the Battle of Seven Oaks
The Battle of Seven Oaks between Hudson’s Bay and NW Companies, with Metis siding with the latter.
  • After the rebellion, Louis Riel fled to the US, and later returned to Saskatchewan, where he started another rebellion and was executed in 1874. Many Métis also fled from Manitoba to Saskatchewan.
  • At the time it became a province, Manitoba was tiny (160 km2 / 62 mi2). It was so small that it was called the “Postage Stamp Province.” After a few small expansions, it was expanded to its current boundaries in 1912.
  • In 1876, the District of Keetawin was created around Hudson’s Bay, covering a larger area of modern Manitoba.
  • In the late 1800s, many land treaties were signed with the indigenous people in Manitoba.
  • In the early 1900s, Winnipeg was the 3rd largest city in Canada, until Vancouver surpassed it in the 1920s.
A cyclist riding across a floodway gate on the Red River in Manitoba
The Red River Floodways has prevented major floods in Winnipeg.
  • Manitoba’s growth dropped in 1914 after the opening of the Panama Canal, which slowed Trans-Continental trade in Canada.
  • In 1916, women gained the right to vote in Manitoba (along with Alberta and Saskatchewan), the first in Canada.
  • Much of Winnipeg had to be evacuated during the 1950 Red River Flood. Another flood on the river in 1997, nicknamed the Flood of the Century, caused enormous damage in Manitoba and the US, but Winnipeg was saved by floodways.
  • Glen Murray, elected mayor of Winnipeg in 1998, was the first openly gay mayor in North America.
Canadian Museum for Human Rights with downtown Winnipeg in background
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg
  • The Winnipeg Blue Bombers won the Grey Cup in 2019 and 2021.