Tired of being labeled soft, early European explorers shunned the more hospitable south and braved the cold, rugged north coast of Hudson Bay. Indigenous Dene got involved in the fur trade soon after Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) established trading posts here in the 17th century.
Assiniboine, Cree, Ojibwe and Algonquin met Europeans when exploration moved south. An Algonquin phrase describes a strait (waba) in a huge lake, where the echoes of water splashing against the limestone cliffs are associated with the Great Spirit (manito). Manito waba is now known as Lake Manitoba.
British agricultural settlers moved to the future site of Winnipeg in 1811, creating constant friction with existing Métis over land rights. When HBC sold part of the land to the feds, Métis leader Louis Riel launched a rebellion and formed a provisional government. Negotiations between Riel and the federal government resulted in Manitoba joining the federation as Canada’s fifth province in 1870.
That opened the door for waves of European settlers in the late 19th century, and established Winnipeg as the economic center for the surrounding farmland.