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Manitoba: Location and Land


The name Manitoba comes from the Cree words "Manitou bou," which mean "the narrows of the Great Spirit." Manitoba is the easternmost of the 3 Prairie Provinces and is located in the centre of Canada. Manitoba borders Saskatchewan on the west and the U.S. to the south, Nunavet to the north and Ontario to the east.


Manitoba is a comparatively level, flat land, elevations rise slowly to the south and west from sea level at Hudson Bay. The area of Manitoba is 649,950 sq. km with a land surface of 548 360 sq kms. North to south it is 1225 km (761 m.) and the width is 449 km with a northern jut out that is 793 km wide. Water makes up 16% of the provincial land surface. Most of Manitoba lies between 150 and 300 m above sea level, but in the Turtle, Riding, Duck and Baldy mountains, heights rise to 700 m or higher. Manitoba's highest point is Baldy Mountain at 831 m.

The Land

Southwestern Manitoba is flat prairie lands, the north-easternmost extension of the great western plains. Before settlement, a large area of southern Manitoba was flood plain or swamp. An extensive system of drainage ditches had to be constructed throughout south central Manitoba to make the region suitable for agricultural cultivation. The northern 3/5 of Manitoba is Precambrian Shield. The northern topography is heavily glaciated and covered in forest, dominated by pine, hemlock and birch. In the northernmost portion of Manitoba the land is composed of tundra and (permanently frozen subsoil - permafrost. All waters in Manitoba flow to Hudson Bay. Manitoba is rich in spring-fed lakes, pristine northland and untouched wilderness

Lakes and Rivers

Manitoba has over 100,000 lakes. This is a legacy of Lake Agassiz which covered much of the province after the glaciers retreated. Today, Lake Winnipeg and Lake Winnipegosis are the two largest lakes in the province. Clear Lake, in south central Manitoba, is a popular summer vacation spot. The major rivers of western Canada, the Saskatchewan, the Churchill, and the Nelson all flow into the lowland region of Manitoba flowing on into Hudson's Bay.

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