Site 22: The Postage Stamp Province

The original boundaries of the Province of Manitoba made it look like a fine little postage stamp on the map of the Dominion of Canada.


The same month Colonel Wolseley’s Red River expedition left Toronto to stabilize Red River in the wake of the Riel Rebellion, the dominion parliament debated the bill that would become The Manitoba Act of 1870.


The following excerpts are taken from The Globe, a predecessor of today’s Globe and Mail, on 3rd May 1870.


Shortly after the meeting of the house yesterday afternoon, Sir John A. MacDonald introduced the long expected an oft delayed bill for the government of the Northwest Territory. It is considered proper, he said, that the province which is to be organized should be called Manitoba.


The name Assiniboia, which it had hitherto been called, is considered to be rather too long, involving confusion, too, between the River Assiniboia and the province of Assiniboia.


I suppose, therefore, there will be no objection to the name that has been fixed upon, which is euphonious enough itself, and is an old Indian name, meaning “the God who speaks”, “the speaking God”.


There is a fine lake there called Lake Manitoba, which forms the western boundary of the province.


Sir John here placed a map on the table showing boundaries of the new province, and members gathered round to examine it. “How many square miles are there in the new province?” asked the honourable Mr. Gray. “Eleven thousand square miles” was MacDonald’s reply.


“It is a small province, as the house will observe, but yet it contains the principal part of the settlements, which are arranged, as those who have studied the matter know, along the banks of the Red River and the banks of the Assiniboine, and the point of their confluence at or near Fort Garry, up westwards, toward Lake Manitoba.”