Most of what the world knows about Manitoba is based on movie mentions, Winnipeg’s reigning title of Slurpee Capital of the World, or the fact that we have been colder than Mars. More recently, NASA even named a plot of land on the red planet after our capital city. But beyond these intergalactic accolades, Manitoba is actually a pretty nifty place here on Earth, with contributions to the world’s wildlife wonders, outdoor phenomenons, first-class festivals and yes, even Hollywood. Here are 43 fun facts about Manitoba that will blow your mind…
Meet our wildlife wonders
1) Manitoba has the biggest mating dens anywhere in the world – that is, for red-sided garter snakes. They come out in the thousands in early May to the Narcisse Dens to mix, mingle and mate. Writhing balls of snakes make for great viewing right around Mother’s Day, so be sure to bring Mom!
2) The Hudson Bay has over 25,000 beluga whales, 3000 of which visit the Churchill area from mid-June to mid-August. And we kayak with them!
3) Wapusk National Park in northern Manitoba is the world’s largest denning site for polar bears.
4) Manitoba has over 100,000 lakes and waterways, the perfect lure for anglers seeking some of the continent’s largest fish.
Venture into the great outdoors
5) Manitoba’s Little Limestone Lake is the finest and largest example of a marl lake in the world, meaning it changes colour with fluctuations in temperature.
6) Winnipeg has the largest mature elm tree urban forest in North American with approximately 160,000 elms.
7) Churchill is one of the top 3 places in the world to observe Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights.
8) Winnipeg has the sunniest winter season in Canada with 358 hours of sunshine.
9) Manitoba’s highest point (Baldy Mountain at 831 metres) is located in Duck Mountain Provincial Park.
Give into festival fever
10) Manitoba’s Festival du Voyageur is Western Canada’s largest winter festival.
11) The Winnipeg Folk Festival, now 42 years old, is one of the oldest and largest folk festivals in the world.
12) Folklorama, held in Winnipeg each August, is the world’s largest and longest running multicultural festival featuring over 44 cultural pavilions.
13) The Pas is home to the Northern Manitoba Trapper’s Festival which happens to be Manitoba’s oldest winter festival, established in 1916.
14) Manito Ahbee is the largest Pow Wow gathering in Canada, and the second largest in North America.
Take a glimpse into yesteryear
15) The earliest inhabitants of the area were indigenous peoples from two nations: the Ne-hiyawak (Cree) and the Nakotas (Assiniboin). They were later joined by the Anishinaabe (Ojibwa) and the Dakota (Sioux). Winnipeg is the Cree word for Muddy Waters.
16) The Exchange District is a National Historic Site spanning 30 blocks in Winnipeg's downtown, showcasing turn-of-the-twentieth-century architecture that is unrivaled in Canada.
17) The Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre in Morden has the largest collection of prehistoric marine fossils in North America, including the world’s largest publicly displayed Mosasaur. We call him Bruce!
18) The world’s largest trilobite known as Isotelus rex was discovered in northern Manitoba can be seen at the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg.
19) The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first national museum to be built outside of Canada's capital region.
20) Lower Fort Garry was the first training base for the North West Mounted Police.
Journey to exciting landmarks
21) Churchill, Manitoba, is Canada’s most northerly port. It's nicknamed the “Polar Bear Capital of the World" for playing host to polar bears on their way to the adjacent Hudson Bay.
23) The International Peace Garden is devoted to world peace along the world’s longest unfortified border and lies on the U.S. and Canada border as a symbol of friendship.
25) The Royal Canadian Mint produces all of Canada’s circulation coins and currency for 60 governments around the globe.
Experience our vibrant art scene
26) The Winnipeg Art Gallery has the world’s largest collection of contemporary Inuit art.
27) The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is Canada’s oldest dance company and the longest continuously operating ballet company in North America.
28) Winnipeg’s French theatre company Le Cercle Moliere is Canada’s oldest continuously operating French theatre.
29) Rainbow Stage is Canada’s oldest outdoor theatre, providing Broadway musicals in the heart of Winnipeg's Kildonan Park since 1955.
30) Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers is Canada’s oldest contemporary dance company, founded by Rachel Browne in 1964.
Skate and slide your heart out
31) Manitoba has more curling clubs than Ontario and Quebec combined and it is often referred to as the "Curling Capital of the World".
32) The world’s largest curling rock resides in Arborg, Manitoba, located outside of the Arborg-Bifrost Curling Club, the rock measures 4.2 metres.
33) Winnipeg boasts one of the longest skating trails in the world. Starting downtown at The Forks, the trail leads skaters down the Red and Assiniboine Rivers over a length of between 6 and 9 km and features warming huts designed by architects from all over the world.
Meet the characters of Manitoba
34) Manitoba has produced famous musicians such as Neil Young, Burton Cummings/The Guess Who, Randy Bachman/Bachman Turner Overdrive, Chantal Kreviazuk, The Weakerthans, Crash Test Dummies, Tom Cochrane, Bif Naked, Fred Penner, Bob Rock and Al Simmons.
35) The big screen has been graced by Manitoba-born actors such as Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), Adam Beach (Flags of Our Fathers, Suicide Squad) and Anna Paquin (X-Men, True Blood). Guy Maddin is arguably our most famous contribution to the directing/producing realm.
36) Olympians? Yep, we have them. The world knows Susan Auch (speed skater), Clara Hughes (cyclist and speed skater), Cindy Klassen (speed skater), Jennifer Jones (curling) and many more – all from Manitoba.
37) We have literary talent too. Manitoba boasts authors Carol Shields, Margaret Laurence, Miriam Toews, Patrick Friesen and Gabrielle Roy.
38) The inspiration for James Bond was famous WWII spymaster Sir William Stephenson, who happened to be born and raised in Winnipeg.
39) Bobby Hull of the Winnipeg Jets was hockey’s first million dollar player.
40) St. Laurent has the largest concentration of Métis people in North America.
41) The character of Winnie-the-Pooh was inspired by a black bear named Winnie, who was named after Manitoba’s capital city, Winnipeg.
42) Paul Faraci invented Pizza Pops in Winnipeg in 1964.
43) Snow White illustrator Charles Thorson grew up in Gimli. It is widely believed that the Snow White character created for Disney Studios was based on a waitress Thorson met at a diner in the West End of Winnipeg.