Winnipeg, the gateway to the West

Downtown Skyline with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights – Credit: Dan Harper / Courtesy of Winnipeg Tourism

By Christian Pedersen

Brazilian Wave presents a series on the capitals of Canada. The first of these was Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia (see issue # 78 – September / October – 2018), and we will now talk about a city that is geographically located in the centre of Canada and North America, which is Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba. Winnipeg is in the northern part of North America, but geographically it is in the middle of the country and the middle of the continent!

Muddy water

The city of Winnipeg, which lies at the confluence of the Assiniboine and Northern Red Rivers, was named after the great Lake Winnipeg, which is fifty-five kilometers away. The name comes from the words of the dialect of the Algonquian Cree language, “win” for muddy and “nippee” for water, i.e. muddy water.

Evidence of a human presence in that area comes from prehistoric times, but the first fur trading post Fort Rouge, was built in 1738 by Sieur de La Vérendrye.The first permanent settlement took place in 1812 when a group of Scots arrived, and the place became Fort Garry and became a trading post for the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Incorporated as a city in 1873, Winnipeg saw a period of growth for 30 years, becoming the financial center of western Canada, so much so that in 1911 it was the third largest in the country. Everything changed with the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914, when the canal reduced the dependence on Canada’s rail system for international trade. The increase in maritime traffic helped Vancouver to overcome Winnipeg in prosperity and population until the end of World War I.

Cultural cradle

Many Brazilians should remember the Winnipeg Pan-American Games, which happened in 1999. In fact, the city was the second to host the Games twice, the first in 1967.

With a little more than 700,000 inhabitants and 236 neighborhoods, the capital of Manitoba is a culturally diverse city with more than 100 languages and nationalities, receiving more than 10,000 immigrants per year. Winnipeg has a large presence of Englishmen (21.1%) and Scots (17.4%), and the largest percentage of Filipino residents (8.7%) in the country, as well as a growing Aboriginal population (12.5%) as well as the Brazilian community.

This diversity results in many festivals, giving an extra attraction to the city with 26 national historical sites that is known as Canada’s “cultural cradle.” The capital is home to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Royal Manitoba Theater Centre, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, and more.

There are new attractions in the city like the new Canadian Museum of Human Rights, which is the first national museum built outside the Ottawa region, and the Journey to Churchill at the Assiniboine Park Zoo, which is the most comprehensive exhibition of species in the Arctic.

Speaking of attractions, Winnipeg is famous for being quite cold during the winter (averaging -12.9 degrees Celsius), so winter activities include the world’s only pop-up restaurant on a frozen river and one of the world’s largest naturally frozen ice-skating trails, with heating cabins designed by architects from around the world.

Finally, we would need more time to talk about various aspects of this capital that deserve to be visited or even be the new home for new Brazilians in the country.

Info about Winnipeg at

Top 10 things to see and do in Winnipeg by Tourism Winnipeg