Early Period. What is now Manitoba has been continuously inhabited from about 10,000 B.C. Nomadic Indians roamed the area at the time of European discovery; the main tribes were the Cree, Chippewa, and Assiniboin. Sir Thomas Button, a Welsh explorer, was probably the first European to set foot in the area. He landed at the mouth of the Nelson River on Hudson Bay in 1612. The Hudson's Bay Company established York Factory in 1682 and Churchill in 1685 as trading posts. A French explorer, the Sieur de La Vérendrye, built Fort Rouge at what is now Winnipeg in 1738.
|Important dates in Manitoba|
|1612||Sir Thomas Button, leader of the first white people in Manitoba, explored the west coast of Hudson Bay.|
|1690-1692||Henry Kelsey of the Hudson's Bay Company explored inland from Hudson Bay to what is now southern Manitoba.|
|1738||Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, Sieur de La Verendrye, a French-Canadian fur trader, arrived at the site of present-day Winnipeg.|
|1812||Settlers sent by the Earl of Selkirk established the Red River Colony.|
|1869-1870||The metis revolted against the Canadian government in the Red River Rebellion.|
|1870||Manitoba became Canada's fifth province.|
|1876||Manitoba farmers began exporting wheat.|
|1878||The first railroad in Manitoba connected Winnipeg and St. Paul, Minnesota.|
|1912||The Canadian government extended Manitoba's northern boundary to Hudson Bay.|
|1960||Nickel mining operations began in Thompson.|
|1969||The voters of Manitoba elected the first Socialist government in Canada outside Saskatchewan.|
|1972||Winnipeg and its suburbs merged into one city, making Winnipeg one of Canada's largest cities.|
|1985||The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that all of Manitoba's laws, written only in English, must be translated to French.|
Manitoba became the scene of fierce competition between fur traders of the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company. About 1809 the North West Company built Fort Gibraltar on the site of present-day Winnipeg. A Scottish peer, Lord Selkirk, persuaded the Hudson's Bay Company to grant a tract of land, called Assiniboia, as the site for a settlement in the same area of the Red River Valley.
The Red River settlement was established at the Winnipeg site in 1812. The North West Company opposed the founding of the farming colony. In fighting that broke out in 1816, the pioneers captured Fort Gibraltar but suffered a reverse in the Seven Oaks Massacre, in which Robert Semple, governor of the settlement, and 20 others were killed. In 1821 the North West and Hudson's Bay companies united, and the fort was enlarged and renamed Fort Garry. A flood ruined the fort in 1826, but it was rebuilt on higher ground as Upper Fort Garry in 1835. In that year Lord Selkirk's heirs sold Assiniboia back to the Hudson's Bay Company.
Settlers from the east poured into the valley in the 1860's. In 1869 the Dominion of Canada acquired the vast lands of the Hudson's Bay Company. Louis Riel led a revolt of métis (persons of mixed French and Indian ancestry) who feared the Canadian government would dispossess them. The uprising was put down in 1870, and Manitoba became Canada's fifth province.
Railways linked the Winnipeg area with Minnesota in 1878 and with eastern Canada in 1881. The railways made it possible to export wheat, which became Manitoba's cash crop. Immigrants flocked to the province from eastern Canada, Great Britain, and continental Europe. Manitoba's area was increased from about 13,000 square miles (33,670 km 2 ) in 1870 to 73,000 square miles (189,069 km 2 ) in 1881. The present borders were established in 1912. Between 1891 and 1921 population increased from about 150,000 to 620,000.
The federal government had control of Manitoba's natural resources from 1870 until 1930, when control was transferred to the province. Rail connections were completed in 1930 between southern Manitoba and Churchill, the province's only port. During the 1930's Manitoba's economy suffered from the depression and from severe droughts.
Industrial and mining activity increased greatly after World War II. In the 1960's, several hydroelectric projects were built, providing power for an influx of industry.
The socialistic New Democratic party was elected to govern for the first time in 1969 and remained in control until 1977. It again was in power from 1981 until 1988, when it was defeated by the Progressive Conservatives. During the 1980's, the province enjoyed one of Canada's highest economic growth rates. The Progressive Conservatives won the 1990 elections. In 1999, the New Democratic Party gained control of the government.
Manitoba faces some major issues in the 21st century. Debate over offering services in the French language continues. Manitoba's debt has risen because the government has increased public services without raising taxes significantly.