Date of Issue
July 14, 1995
Perforation or Dimension
13.5 x 13
Ashton-Potter Canada Limited.
Designed by Steven Rosenberg Designed by Terry Gallagher
The 125th anniversary of Manitoba's entry into Confederation is the subject of a new commemorative stamp being issued on July 14, 1995. Manitoba became Canada's fifth province on July 15, 1870. Manitoba's borders were smaller then than they are today, but the new province did extend the Dominion from the woodlands to the prairies, and its capital city of Winnipeg gained renown as the gateway to the west. European exploration and early settlement of the "keystone" province began from Hudson Bay in the north. A succession of European explorers seeking a Northwest Passage to the Orient visited the area, including Henry Hudson (1610), Button (1612), Munk (1619) and Foxe and James (1631). But it was the French-Canadian explorers Radisson and des Groseilliers, later working for the English, who recognized the commercial importance of Hudson Bay as a simple direct link between the furs of the northwest and the markets of Europe. The "Company of Adventurers of England Trading into Hudson Bay" was chartered in 1670, and the Hudsons's Bay Company (HBC) was granted a huge territory (part of which is modern Manitoba) known as "Rupert's Land". The English began buildings posts in the area, including York Factory and Fort Churchill, in the 1680s. While the HBC reaped profits from the Hudson Bay route, a rival trade arose. Traders from the New France, and later, the Montreal-based North West Company, developed a route using a cross-country network of rivers and lakes, establishing Fort Rouge in 1783 at the site of present-day Winnipeg and Fort La Reine near Portage la Prairie. Normally, the fur trade and settlement didn't mix, but Thomas Douglas, the fifth Earl of Selkirk, set out to establish an agricultural colony at the forks of the Red and Assiniboine. In 1811, he received from the HBC all of the lands drained by the Assiniboine and the Red Rivers, "Assiniboia", and planned to establish his new colony at the forks of these rivers. After travelling two months across the Atlantic in 1811, the Selkirk colonists entered Hudson Bay too late to ascend the Red River and they wintered near York Factory. They left in the spring and on August 30, 1812 reached the site of present-day Winnipeg. In the 1860s, the HBC agreed to transfer sovereignty of Rupert's Land to Canada, an action that caused concern among many settlers. Especially upset were the Métis, descendants of European fur traders and Natives. When surveyors arrived without notice to stake out lots on Métis holdings, Louis Riel, spokesman for the Métis, opposed the action. His followers blocked the arrival of the Canadian-appointed lieutenant-governor, seized Fort Garry, proclaimed a provisional government and sought negotiated terms for entry into Confederation. The armed conflict fitfully continued, and the provisional government court-martialled and executed a prisoner - Ontario Orangeman Thomas Scott. Troops were dispatched in 1870, but Riel had fled before their arrival. Given royal assent on May 12, 1870, to be effective July 15, the Manitoba Act created Canada's fifth province. A bicameral legislative was established. Manitoba received two Senators along with four seats in the federal Commons. Métis land claims were recognized, and French language rights as well as Protestant and Catholic education rights were safeguarded. Nicknamed "the postage stamp province", Manitoba was a fraction of its present day size. It extended from the US border north to Lake Winnipeg, and from Beausejour on the east to just west of Portage la Prairie. Final boundaries were drawn in 1912. Between 1876 and 1881, some 40,000 people, mainly Ontario British, moved west. The development of Red Fife wheat with its shorter growing time, new machinery and new milling processes combined to offer new prospects. Also in the 1870s, Mennonites and Icelanders arrived to settle in the province. The largest influx of new settlers came between 1897 and 1910. New immigrants arrived from eastern Canada and the US, Britain and eastern Europe, especially Ukraine. The population jumped to 250,000 in 1901, and by 1916 it stood at 550,000. As the first western province, Manitoba played a key role in opening up the west to a young developing nation. Manitoba's heritage is one of many peoples, cultures and customs building together a strong and prosperous legacy.
Canada Post Corporation. Canada's Stamps Details, Vol. 4, No. 4, 1995, p. 10-13.