Despite growing up in one of Manitoba’s neighbouring provinces (Ontario), we never entertained the idea of taking a family road trip to Winnipeg and beyond, even though it was almost the same distance to Florida (2,000 km/1,240 miles and just as many fist fights over A&W fries in the back seat).

The fifth province to join Confederation in 1870 (and not without some bloodshed) deserves a little limelight beyond what it’s naively synonymous with—Winterpeg, polar bears, Crown Royal production, and the ol’ joke that if your dog runs away, you can still see him running three days later because Manitoba is so flat.

Manitoba is thought to be derived from the Cree word Maninto-wahpaow, which means “the narrows of the Great Spirit.” Lake Manitoba narrows to half a mile at its centre and, curiously, the waves turning on the rocks along the north shore produce eerie bell-like wailing sounds. The First Nations believed this sound came from a huge drum beaten by the spirit Manitou.

According to a 2012 Statistics Canada survey, 195,900 aboriginal people lived in Manitoba in 2011. Comprising 17 percent of the total population of Manitoba, the aboriginal population is higher here than in any other

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