Manitoba Cultural Groups

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Beginning Research
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Manitoba Background
Cultural Groups
Local Research Resources

Black Canadians[edit | edit source]

Many Black people migrated to Canada in search of work and became porters with the railroad companies in Ontario, Quebec, and the Western provinces or worked in mines in the Maritimes. Between 1909 and 1911 over 1500 migrated from Oklahoma as farmers and moved to Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.[1]

First Nations[edit | edit source]

As of July 2014, there were 148,455 registered First Nation members in Manitoba. A total of 88,076 members (59.3 per cent) lived on reserves. Manitoba is second only to Ontario in terms of total on-reserve population and in total First Nation population. Manitoba has 63 First Nations, including six of the 20 largest bands in Canada. Twenty-three First Nations are not accessible by an all-weather road. This accounts for more than half of all Manitoba First Nations people who live on reserve. There are five First Nations linguistic groups in Manitoba: Cree, Ojibway, Dakota, Ojibway-Cree and Dene.[2]

Icelandic[edit | edit source]

"In 1875, the eruption of the Askja volcano was the incentive for the migration of twenty percent of Iceland's population to North America. As Winnipeg became the most popular destination for Icelanders, the town's population reached 7,000 people during the 1880s. To this day, Manitoba remains North America's centre for Icelandic culture and activities. The localities of Gimli, New Iceland, Riverton, Lundar, Morden, Lakeview, Erickson, Baldur, Arborg, and Glenboro are known for their Icelandic cultural influence."[3]

Mennonites[edit | edit source]

A large wave of Mennonites from Ukraine were the first settlers to arrive in the new province of Manitoba in 1870. Within the next decade, more than 7,000 settled the regions of the East Reserve and West Reserve.

The Dominion Lands Act of 1872, which granted inexpensive and free land to settlers, the aggressive immigration policy publicized in Central Europe, and the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway all contributed to furthering the establishment of Mennonite communities in Central and Western Canada. Over the last century, both the First World War, chiefly the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, and the Second World War encouraged the mass migration of conscientious objectors to settle in North America.

Today, almost 200,000 Mennonites call Canada home. In 2010, the largest urban concentration of Mennonites was located in Winnipeg (20,000) making it one of the largest Mennonite cities in the world.[4]

Métis[edit | edit source]

Archive, Libraries, and Museum[edit | edit source]

Glenbow Archive, Library, and Museum

Contact: Glenbow Archives
130 - 9 Avenue
SE Calgary, Alberta T2G 0P3
Reference Desk telephone: 403-268-4204

The Glenbow Archives and Library, has an excellent collection of resources for the study of Métis genealogy. Their sources cover predominantly Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and some parts of the Northwest Territories, Ontario, and British Columbia.
Most of our sources pertain to people who were living in the Prairie Provinces in 1900 or earlier.

One unique collection is the Gail Morin database. The collection consists of a database of 65,434 records of persons who were Metis ancestors. For each individual, dates and places of birth, baptism, marriage, death, and burial, and notes on sources are given if known. Using Ancestral Quest software, the data can be linked to show genealogical relationships in the form of pedigree charts and descendancy charts. The database is available only with the assistance of the Archives staff in the reading room of the Glenbow Archives. The database is fully searchable online.

  • The Métis are a multi ancestral indigenous group whose homeland is in Canada and parts of the United States between the Great Lakes region and the Rocky Mountains. The Métis trace their descent to both Indigenous North Americans and European settlers (primarily French). Not all people of mixed Indigenous and Settler descent are Métis, as the Métis are a distinct group of people with a distinct culture and language. Since the late 20th century, the Métis in Canada have been recognized as a distinct Indigenous people under the Constitution Act of 1982 and have a population of 587,545 as of 2016.
  • During the height of the North American fur trade in New France from 1650 onward, many French and British fur traders married First Nations and Inuit women, mainly Cree, Ojibwa, or Saulteaux located in the Great Lakes area and later into the north west.
  • The majority of these fur traders were French and Scottish; the French majority were Catholic.
  • These marriages are commonly referred to as marriage à la façon du pays or marriage according to the "custom of the country."
  • At first, the Hudson's Bay Company officially forbade these relationships. However, many Indigenous peoples actively encouraged them, because they drew fur traders into Indigenous kinship circles, creating social ties that supported the economic relationships developing between them and Europeans. When Indigenous women married European men, they introduced them to their people and their culture, taught them about the land and its resources, and worked alongside them. Indigenous women paddled and steered canoes, made moccasins out of moose skin, netted webbing for snowshoes, skinned animals and dried their meat.
  • The children of these marriages were often introduced to Catholicism, but grew up in primarily First Nations societies. As adults, the men often worked as fur-trade company interpreters, as well as fur trappers in their turn.
  • Many of the first generations of Métis lived within the First Nations societies of their wives and children, but also started to marry Métis women.
  • By the early 19th century, marriage between European fur traders and First Nations or Inuit women started to decline as European fur traders began to marry Métis women instead, because Métis women were familiar with both white and Indigenous cultures, and could interpret.[5]

Scottish Immigrants[edit | edit source]

Scottish immigration to Canada continued into the twentieth century and increased the Scottish population to over 1 million by 1930. Most of these later Scottish migrants were farmers and farm labourers coming from the Lowland regions, while fewer Highlanders emigrated during that period. There were also many more industrial workers coming after 1900, many in the iron and steel industries. The primary destination for this later settlement of Scots was western Canada, with Manitoba receiving the largest numbers. After the First World War, many Scots were able to gain passage to Canada under the Empire Settlement Act. Immigration from Scotland to Canada continued in large numbers throughout the twentieth century and between 1945 and 1993 approximately 260,000 settled in Canada. Today, there are approximately 4 million Canadians of Scottish heritage.[6]

Ukrainian Immigrants[edit | edit source]

Approximately 150,000 Ukrainian immigrants arrived between 1891 and 1914. Most Ukrainian immigrants of this period were identified on government records as arriving from their respective provinces in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, as Poles, Russians, or Austrians. The vast majority of these immigrants settled in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta where they obtained land to farm. Others who preferred industrial occupations settled in various towns in Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, and British Columbia.[7]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Black History",, 6 December 2020.
  2. "First Nations in Manitoba", Library and Archives Canada,, accessed 6 December 2020.
  3. "Icelandic Genealogy and Family History", Library and Archives Canada,, accessed 6 December 2020.
  4. "Mennonites", Library and Archives Canada,, accessed 6 December 2020.
  5. "Métis Nation", Wikipedia,, accessed 25 October 2020.
  6. "Scottish Genealogy and Family History", Library and Archives Canada,, 6 December 2020.
  7. "Ukrainian Genealogy and Family History", Library and Archives Canada,, accessed 6 December 2020.