Winnipeg History - Canada and Louis Riel



Statue of Louis Riel When the Dominion of Canada was established in 1867, Britain transferred almost all of the Hudson's Bay lands to it. The Metis feared that they would then lose their traditional lands to the new settlers in a land rush. Louis Riel, a Metis leader staged the Red River Rebellion (so named, even though battles were fought well into Saskatchewan). This caused the Canadian government to create the Northwest Mounted Police (now the RCMP) to make the area safe again. Riel refused to give up until language and property rights were protected in the Manitoba Act of 1870, when the province joined the Confederation. Louis Riel, however, was hung for his rebellion.

The city grew because of its strategic location midway between Lake Winnipeg and the American border. When the city was incorporated in 1873 there were 1,869 inhabitants. In 1878, the first steam railway connection came from St. Paul, Minnesota, to a point just across the river from Winnipeg. On July 1, 1886, the first Canadian transcontinental railway train arrived from Montreal. These railway connections increased the city's travel and trade and made it important for the prairie grain farmers as a major centre of trade. Because of the huge lake to the north, all rail lines were forced to connect at this city.

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