An aboriginal hub for 6000 years and center of the 19th century fur trade rivalry between HBC and North West Company, the confluence of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers had little choice in any other official name than the Europeanized win nipee (Cree for ‘muddy waters.’)
Permanent (as in built, fought over, destroyed, rebuilt, flooded, rebuilt) colonial settlements occupied the early 1800s on the northern riverbanks. Across the Red River, French settlers established the neighborhood of St Boniface, birthplace of the controversial Métis leader Louis Riel who initiated the Red River Rebellion of 1870.
The railroad’s arrival in 1886 solidified Winnipeg’s commercial importance, later rendered moot by the opening of the Panama Canal. Still, Winnipeg persevered, acting as air training grounds throughout WWII. Despite almost drowning in the flood of 1950, the City of Winnipeg Act combined a dozen surrounding municipalities into Winnipeg – aka Unicity – in the early 1970s.