INDIAN NAMES are common in all parts of Canada, especially in the prairie provinces. Manitoba has an Indian name and so has its capital city, Winnipeg. One of its principal rivers, the Assiniboine, also bears a name of native origin.
The name Manitoba, like that of Ontario, was given first by the Indians to a lake in the province, and later became a territorial designation. The generally accepted meaning of the name is derived from the Indian word Manilo—signifying a spirit, which the Indians believed inhabited an island in Lake Manitoba. On stormy days the roaring sound produced by the waves dashing pebbles against the limestone beach of the island, gave rise to the superstition that a spirit was beating a drum to make its presence known. The last syllable of the word Manito-fto«, means the strait of the Manito, and refers to the strait past the island.
Some few writers have given another meaning to the name, taken from the words mini and lobow, or Lake of the Prairies. La Vérendrye in his writings also referred to this lake as Lac des Prairies.
The names in this province have peculiar significance because of the fact that Manitoba is the gateway to the Northwest and is part of what was once Prince Rupert’s Land, so named in honor of Prince Rupert of Bavaria, first Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Such names suggest the romance of discovery, exploration and settlement, and are consequently of interest to all Canadians. For example, the Nelson River in Manitoba was named by Admiral Sir Thomas Button, who first raised the British flag in that territory when he explored it in 1612. The river was named after Admiral Button’s sailing master. Portage la Prairie and Fort Rouge bring to mind the fearless explorers, La Vérendrye and his i sons. A city and a fort perpetuate the I names of the Duke of Brandon and j Nicholas Garry, who were closely associ! ated with the Hudson’s Bay Company. | Both the names Douglas and Selkirk in the | province were those of the Earl of Selkirk, “the most remarkable man in the annals of immigration in Canada.” Later came Icelandic and Mennonite immigrants who named their own settlements as reminders of their homelands.
The first British settlers in the Canadian West were two hundred Highland crofters ¡ sent out by Lord Selkirk to form a colony ! in what was called the Red River Settlement, part of a district of 116.000 square miles granted to Lord Selkirk by the Hudson's Bay Company, near the present site of Winnipeg. These Scottish families suffered incredible persecution and hardships. The story of their struggles against bitter opposition, failure of crops and other tragic experiences is regarded as one of the great sagas of early settlers on this continent. But they remained steadfast j and resourceful despite misfortunes, and ¡ eventually their settlement flourished.
Manitoba’s golden grain fields and 1 brilliant sunshine lured many settlers from Europe, and in consequence the population has a mixed racial character with wide I contrasts in manner of living and in speech.
After much tribulation, political and ■ otherwise, this area, formerly owned .and : governed by the Hudson’s Bay Company, became in 1870 one of the links in the Dominion’s chain of provinces, with the j ! name of Manitoba.
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