We love Canada. Every month, we’re celebrating each and every province and territory from coast to coast for Canada’s 150th birthday. Last month, we shared what we love about Saskatchewan. This month, we’re celebrating Manitoba, Canada’s beloved prairie province in the heart of Canada (where you could watch your dog run away for three days.) Read on to find out more on Manitoba’s polar bear prison, a little black bear that would inspire Winnie the Pooh, and more non-bear related facts like famous Manitobans (hint: she played Sookie Stackhouse) and the coldest temperature ever recorded in #Winter-peg.
Capital City: Winnipeg
Major Airport: YWG, Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport
Population: 1.2 million
Area: 649, 947 square kilometres
Provincial Animal: Bison
National Sports Team: Winnipeg Jets
Famous Manitobans: Neil Young, Randy Bachman, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Terry Fox, Burton Cummings, Anna Paquin, Nia Vardalos, Clara Hughes, Bobby Hull
Things you may not have known about Manitoba
It’s cold. This may not come as a surprise, but in Canada, when attempting to convey how cold one feels, Winnipeg often becomes the temperature gauge, an almost hyperbolic identifier that demonstrates that the current state of climate is hovering absolute zero (or whatever the coldest temperature on planet Earth is.)
The winter months (November to January) in Winnipeg are historically the coldest amongst all of Canada’s major cities, averaging -11 degrees C (followed by Saguenay, Quebec at -8 degrees C; Regina, Saskatchewan at -8 degrees C; and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan -7 degrees C.)
Winnipeg also has the lowest temperature ever recorded in Canada which took place on Christmas Eve in 1879 when temperatures dropped to -47 degrees Celsius.
So, not to perpetuate the general misconception that it’s regularly ever this cold in Manitoba, which it most definitely is not – it’s important to point out that Winnipeg has four distinct seasons: cold, dry winters; hot, dry summers; and cool springs and falls. The summer months (June to August) average 19 degrees C. And funny enough, while Winnipeg has the lowest ever recorded temperature, it also has the record for the highest at 42 degrees Celsius! You keep us on our toes, Winnipeg.
Yes. You can watch your dog run away for three days. Manitoba’s diverse terrain includes an unapologetically flat Prairie grasslands in the south and west which plays an integral component in farming Manitoba’s major agricultural exports like canola, wheat, hogs, cattle, dairy products, oats, poultry, barley, flaxseed, and eggs. The unique landscape beyond Manitoba’s flat grasslands leads to the lakes and forests of the Canadian Shield in the east and north and then even further north to the arctic tundra.
The origin of Winnie the Pooh
Beloved children’s book character Winnie the Pooh was first introduced to the world more than 100 years ago. The little bear who loves snacks and honey holds a spot in many hearts around the globe and still continues to today.
The origin of Winnie the Pooh starts with a Canadian soldier in London, Winnipeg-born Harry Colebourn, who served overseas in the First World War. Colebourn adopted an orphaned black bear for $20 and named her after his hometown.
Winnie was a tame black bear and beloved pet who was even said to have slept under Colebourn’s bed. When Colebourn was deployed to France, he was worried about Winnie’s safety on the front lines and decided to give Winnie to the London Zoo, where she would befriend a small boy named Christopher Robin Milne.
Christopher Robin loved Winnie so much that his father, author A.A. Milne, started writing children’s stories inspired by Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh.
Things about Manitoba that may surprise you
There’s a polar bear prison. (Yes, for polar bears.)
First of all, are they read their rights?
Climate change is largely to blame. Warmer winters mean less time for polar bears to build up enough fat to carry them through the summer months. With less time on ice platforms to hunt seals, polar bears survive by hunting for food further inland which they have no choice but to go through small communities of populated areas to get it.
Did you know? Founded in 1870 by the Aboriginal people who first lived in the region, the inhabitants named the land Manitoba, which translates to “where the spirit lives.”
Two-thirds of the world’s polar bears live in Canada and Churchill, Manitoba is known as the polar bear capital of the world. This means there are more polar bear interactions here than anywhere else in the world which is why this northern town in Manitoba has a holding facility for intrusive polar bears – a polar bear prison.
The bears are tranquilized and then held for at least 30 days. When they’re released, a helicopter flies the polar bears out to the ice platforms. While prison might seem a bit extreme, it also protects polar bears from harm that could be presented amidst the presence of potentially frightened individuals.
Winnipeg invented 9-1-1
The first known experiment with a national emergency phone number was in the UK back in 1937, but Winnipeg was officially the first city in North America to use a central emergency number in 1959. Before 9-1-1, it was 9-9-9. Today, all of North America use the same central 9-1-1 emergency number, while Europe uses 1-1-2.
Manitoba is the unofficial curling capital of the world
Canada’s national sport may be lacrosse (or hockey, depending on who you ask), but tell that to Manitoba which has more curling clubs in Manitoba than Ontario and Quebec combined.
Winnipeg, the Manhattan of Manitoba?
Maybe. Winnipeg’s Union Station, the beautiful Beaux-Arts building which was constructed between 1908 and 1911, was designed by Warren and Wetmore the architects who designed New York City’s Grand Central Terminal station. But wait, there’s more.
Much of Winnipeg’s striking architecture can be attributed to a handful of New York designers, like the distinguished firm McKim, Mead and White who are responsible for Manhattan landmarks like Pennsylvania Station, the Washington Arch in Greenwich Village, Columbia University, as well as many others outside of NY, like Boston Public Library and even the West and East Wings of the White House. McKim, Mead and White designed the grandiose Bank of Montreal in Winnipeg’s downtown Portage and Main intersections, a Winnipeg landmark constructed in 1913 and dreamed up to resemble a Roman temple which you can see from its towering Corinthian columns at the entrance to the Italian Botticino marble walls and stairs in the vestibule, to the gold leaf ceiling.
Manitoba’s striking landscapes, cultural diversity, and vast abundant Prairie lands captures our hearts and we hope it captures yours, too.
Visit Friendly Manitoba. Celebrate Canada’s 150th by seeing as much of our great country as you can! Visit us in-store, contact us online or at 1-855-796-8359