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Winnipeg Travel Guide

Winnipeg History

In 1738, the Sieur de la Vérendrye built the first post on the site, Fort Rouge, but it was later abandoned. Other posts were built in the Red River region, which was fiercely contested by the North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company. Fort Gibraltar, a post of the North West Company on the site of present-day Winnipeg, was renamed Fort Garry in 1822 and became the leading post in the region. In 1835, Fort Garry was rebuilt after the devastating flood of 1826 and although it played a small role in the actual trading of furs, it housed the residence of the Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company for many years.

1869-1870 was time of internal crisis, the politicians of eastern Canada agreed the federal union of 1867, opening the way for the transfer of the Red River Colony from British to Canadian control. The Métis majority - roughly 6000 compared to some 1000 whites - were fearful of the consequences and their resistance took shape round Louis Riel , under whose dexterous leadership they captured the Hudson's Bay Company's Upper Fort Garry and created a provisional government without challenging the sovereignty of the crown. A delegation went to Ottawa to negotiate the terms of their admission into the Dominion, but their efforts were handicapped by the execution by Métis of an English settler from Ontario, Thomas Scott . The subsequent furore pushed prime minister John A. Macdonald into dispatching a military force to restore "law and order"; nevertheless, the Manitoba Act of 1870, which brought the Red River into the Dominion, did accede to many of the demands of the Métis, at the price of Riel's exile, and guaranteed the preservation of the French culture and language in the new province - although in practice this was not effectively carried out.

Winnipeg experienced an economic boom during the 1890s through 1920s. The population rose from about 25,000 in 1891 to more than 200,000 by 1921. The Manitoba Provincial Legislature Building reflects the optimism of these boom years.

The current city of Winnipeg was created by the Unicity Act of 1971. The municipalities of St. James-Assiniboia, St. Boniface, Transcona, St. Vital, West Kildonan, East Kildonan, Tuxedo, Old Kildonan, North Kildonan, Fort Garry, and Charleswood were amalgamated with the Old City of Winnipeg. More recently, the development of other prairie cities, such as Regina and Saskatoon, has undermined something of Winnipeg's pre-eminence, but the city is still the economic focus and transport hub of central Canada.

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