|Portage la Prairie|
|City of Portage la Prairie|
|Established||1738 (Fort La Reine)|
|• Mayor||Earl Porter|
|• City||24.67 km2 (9.53 sq mi)|
|• Metro||2,029.94 km2 (783.76 sq mi)|
|Elevation||262 m (860 ft)|
|• City||12,996 (4th)|
|• Density||526.8/km2 (1,364/sq mi)|
|• Metro density||10.1/km2 (26/sq mi)|
|Time zone||Central Time zone (UTC-6)|
Portage la Prairie / / is a small city in the Central Plains Region of Manitoba, Canada. As of 2011, the population was 12,996. The area of the city was 24.67 square kilometres (9.53 sq mi). Portage la Prairie is located approximately 75 kilometres (47 mi) west of Winnipeg, along the Trans Canada Highway (located exactly between the provincial borders of Saskatchewan and Ontario), and sits on the Assiniboine River, which flooded the town persistently until a diversion channel north to Lake Manitoba (the Assiniboine River Floodway) was built to divert the flood waters. The city is surrounded by the Rural Municipality of Portage la Prairie.
The area was most likely inhabited by Aboriginals, or First Peoples, before European settlers began to arrive prior to 1850. In September of 1738, after the Fur Trade had extended into the West, Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Verendrye (a French Canadian explorer and fur trader) built Fort La Reine north of the Assiniboine River to serve as a fur trading post, and provide the explorers with a "home" operating base, from which they would explore other parts of Central Manitoba and Western North America.
In 1851, Archdeacon Cochrane of the Anglican Church, John McLean, as well as other ambitious settlers, were among the first to purchase the first land in the area from the local Aboriginals, around what is now Crescent Lake (formerly known as "The Slough"). A school was soon built as settlers poured in from the East, followed by a church (St. Mary's La Prairie, 1854), and numerous local businesses as the community began to form. The fertile soils of the Portage la Prairie area were discovered in the 1850s, giving birth to the future agriculturally-based economy of the village; Archdeacon Cochrane encouraged people to start growing crops and gardens on their properties to fulfill the needs of the growing food demand. A local government was formed in 1857, and by the 1860s, there were sixty homes situated in the community.
The 1870s was a decade of rapid growth, as many more settlers moved to Portage, establishing farms and opening new businesses. By this time, the village had an operating flour mill, a local newspaper, and a community fair; just to name a few of Portage's highlights. From the 1870s to the 1880s, the community increased in population by approximately 10 times (300-3,000). Freight and supplies were transported by ox-cart and steamboat until the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1881, the year Portage was incorporated as a town (Thomas Collins was the first mayor of Portage la Prairie).
In 1907, Portage was incorporated as a city, and from that point on, managed to keep a gradual rate of growth and development, serving as a regional hub for agriculture, retail, manufacturing and transportation in Central Manitoba.
During WWII, the Royal Canadian Air Force constructed an airfield in support of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The station was controlled by the RCAF but used naval personnel as High Frequency Direction Finding operators. The station's priority was German U-boat traffic. This site and the site located at Rivers Manitoba helped to increased the fix accuracy immensely.
The name is derived from the French word portage, which means to carry a canoe overland between waterways. In this case the "portage" was between the Assiniboine River and Lake Manitoba, over la prairie.
The city became a major transportation centre due to its proximity to the river, and later, the location of the main lines of the country's national railways passing through the community. Both the CPR and CNR Railways intersect in Portage; one of the few places in Canada where the two railways meet. This has made Portage la Prairie one of the most ideal places for railway aficionados to view trains; approximately 72 trains pass through the city each day. The Trans Canada Highway, a major national transportation route, runs past the city and provides the community with business if highway travellers decide to make a trek into Portage. Also, since the land is very fertile, with soils abundant in nutrients, Portage la Prairie is a major agricultural centre in Manitoba, as well as Canada. The rural area surrounding the community is undoubtedly a breadbasket in Canada, having some of the best soils in the country for producing a wide array of vegetables, berries, grains and lentils.
The city has an aggressive tree planting program and is known for its mature urban forest. A collection of some of the largest cottonwood trees in Canada line the west end of the main street known as Saskatchewan Avenue (as well as Crescent Road which runs adjacent to Crescent Lake), and, along with many other varieties, are present throughout the city.
According to Environment Canada, Portage la Prairie has the most sunny days during the warm months in Canada. Portage has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb, USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 3a) with warm summers and cold, dry winters.
|Climate data for Portage la Prairie|
|Record high °C (°F)||10.3
|Average high °C (°F)||−12
|Average low °C (°F)||−22.6
|Record low °C (°F)||−42
|Precipitation mm (inches)||23.8
|Source #1: Environment Canada|
|Source #2: . Retrieved 23 January 2013.</ref>|
|Canada 2006 Census||Population||% of Total Population|
|Visible minority group
|Other visible minority||55||0.4|
|Total visible minority population||230||1.9|
|Total Aboriginal population||2,580||21.3|
The Portage la Prairie Canadian Pacific Railway Station no longer receives passenger rail service, and is operated as a museum.
The Portage La Prairie/Southport Airport is a former air force base and the primary airport in the city. The Portage La Prairie (North) Airport is also located near Portage la Prairie and consists of a grass field.
- Daily newspaper, The Daily Graphic
- Weekly newspaper, Herald Leader Press.
- The Winnipeg Free Press and Winnipeg Sun are also available.
- CFRY (AM) 920 - country music, owned by Golden West Broadcasting
- CFRY-FM 93.1 - country music, owned by Golden West Broadcasting
- CJPG-FM 96.5 - classic hits, owned by Golden West Broadcasting
In central Portage la Prairie, there is a peninsula known as Island Park, bounded by an oxbow lake called Crescent Lake (however, an extensive marsh located at the south ends of the lake connects the two halves of Crescent Lake, as a creek runs from one end to the other, but since two land bridges cross the oxbow, the island is no longer an official "island"). Every winter, the "island" has a festival of lights consisting of Christmas lights decorating a driving path around the perimeter. In addition, a highly popular winter lights parade is held. The island has a beautiful 18 hole golf course, Portage Industrial Exhibition grounds which hosts various agricultural competitions and midway, an outdoor water park, a large pen enclosure for deer, a birdcage area featuring peacocks, playgrounds, walking trails, tennis courts, a duck pond, various monuments, and an extensive arboretum. It is also the site of the new Portage Credit Union Centre; the new home of the Portage Terriers Hockey Club and an indoor water park. As well, Crescent Lake is home to flocks of migrating and nesting Canada Geese.
Just south of the Portage la Prairie by-pass is the Portage Spillway, where the Assiniboine River empties into a diversion which in recent years has protected the city from flooding. Not only does this area mark the importance of the river in Portage's history, but it is home to Portage Spillway-Wayside Provincial Park, a park that is especially popular with fishermen in the summer months. Also not far southwest lies Spruce Woods Provincial Park and not far north lies St. Ambroise Beach Provincial Park. The city is also home to a network of multi-use recreational trails running through the parks and forested areas, which provide an oasis for sightseers to view wildlife.Geocaching has become popular in these areas, as people are finding more innovative ways to get out hiking in this scenic urban forest.
Aside from parks, the Portage la Prairie/Central Plains Region features many fine campgrounds located within a 15-30 minute drive of the city, and offers a few public beaches including Delta Beach, home to the Delta Marsh Field Station/Wildlife Reserve (part of this beach/area has been destroyed due to recent flooding in the spring of 2011), Jackson Lake (located 2 miles southeast of Sidney, Manitoba, about a 35 minute drive west of Portage la Prairie) and Twin Lakes Beach, located an hour northeast of Portage, also on Lake Manitoba.
One of Portage la Prairie's most popular attractions, the Community Walkway, which parallels Crescent Lake, is a 5.2 km, multi-use trail used for walking, bicycling, skateboarding and rollerblading, running past many grand heritage homes and the tranquil, picturesque sites along the lake.
Other attractions include the world's largest Coca-Cola can. It was constructed from an old water tower and is now located between the local Canadian Tire and Canad Inns hotel on Saskatchewan Avenue West. Portage la Prairie is considered to be the world strawberry capital and the North American potato processing capital. Many U-pick strawberry and Saskatoon farms are within a 15 minute drive by car.
Heritage Square is an outdoor community meeting place (particularly in the summer months), located downtown, and is home to a large farmer's market that takes place every summer. Surrounding Heritage Square are the Cinema Centre, Portage la Prairie Regional Library, and the William Glesby Centre—a Performing Arts facility which offers a live theatre & community art gallery. The William Glesby Centre is considered to be the cultural gathering place of Portage, and is used for many local events and live venues.
The PCU Centre opened in February 2010 and features two NHL regulation size indoor arenas, one with seating capacity for 1680, as well as an indoor pool and wave pool. Fort La Reine Museum is a museum located on the east end of Portage. The original Fort la Reine was built in 1738 by the French explorer Pierre Gaultier de Varennes and served as his headquarters for 15 years. Today the museum is home to an array of buildings from Portage and the surrounding region, and covers local prairie history from the 18th century (the period of French Exploration) to the present day. Currently there are 25 buildings open to the public, each containing hundreds of artifacts, on display. Some of the highlights of the museum are a railway caboose and the 1882 official rail car of Sir William Van Horne, builder of the Canadian Pacific Railway; a fully restored Ukrainian Pioneer Church; a number of houses that are more than 100 years old; a replica of Fort la Reine; a firehall with a fully restored 1931 Seagrave Fire Truck; the Old Officers Mess from the now retired Canadian Forces Base in Southport; and a school house and church built in the 1880s from West Prospect (a pioneer farming community that no longer exists).
The Manitoba Softball Hall of Fame/Museum is dedicated to the history of softball in Manitoba. It has memorabilia from 1930s to the present. It is housed in the Fort la Reine Museum in a former barracks, moved from nearby Canadian Forces Base Southport.
Portage la Prairie's City Hall is a limestone structure that was designed by Thomas Fuller, who also designed the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. It was opened in 1898 as a Dominion Post Office and became City Hall in 1960. The building was declared a historical site in 1986. On the roof is a bell which tolls for a few seconds daily at 9am, noon, 3pm, 6pm and 9pm.
Aside from City Hall, the city is home to many other heritage buildings. St. Mary's la Prairie Anglican Church, built in 1854, is located near the downtown. Saskatchewan Avenue (the city's main thoroughfare) contains many historical buildings, as well as Tupper Street and Royal Road (named after the Royal Visit of Queen Elizabeth and King George VI in 1939). Crescent Road, which follows Crescent Lake for over 5 km, is lined with many large, grand heritage homes dating back to the late 19th Century and early 20th Century.
Portage's largest hotel, part of Canad-Inns, is located in the west end of the city. This hotel includes the rink of the Portage Curling Club, Aalto's Garden Cafe, a pub known as Tavern United, and many banquet halls.
There are several events held annually in Portage la Prairie, which include the Manitoba Hydro Power Smart Island of Lights running from November through January, The Portage Exhibition & Fair ("PortageX") held every July, the Portage Potato Festival which takes place in August, and Canadian Forces Day in early June at Southport.
The community of Southport, located about 5 km south of Portage la Prairie, is home to a small recreation complex featuring a gymnasium and 5-pin bowling alley, aside from the proudly displayed military/air force history throughout the town & airport.
Portage la Prairie had a military airbase south of the community known as Canadian Forces Base Portage. It was established as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan during Second World War and trained thousands of pilots for military service from around the world.
In 1990, the federal government transferred the assets of the property to Southport Aerospace Centre Inc., a not-for-profit property management and development company whose goal was to successfully manage the site.
The 13th Field Battery of the 26th Field Artillery Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery is based out of Portage la Prairie.
During the Second World War an Algerine-class minesweeper commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy was named after Portage la Prairie. The Portage was active during the war as an escort and afterwards as a training vessel. As part of the 100th Anniversary of the Royal Canadian Navy, in 2010, the Navy provided the city with a display on the ship that is currently located in City Hall.
The local economy is largely dependent on agriculture and supporting industries (trucking, transportation, chemical/fertilizer, farm machinery dealerships, etc.). Portage la Prairie is also home to the McCain Foods and Simplot potato processing plants, which provide French fries for McDonalds, Wendy's, and various other commercialized restaurant chains. Viterra, previously known as Can-oat milling, one of the largest oat mills in the world, is also located in the municipality. McMillan Industrial Park, located on the eastern fringes of Portage, also plays a major role in the city's economy. Numerous industries including food science labs & food processing facilities, construction companies, and manufacturing sectors are located in this expanding industrial area, beneficial for the creation of jobs in the community. The city has developed into a regional retail service center as large big box style stores have been recently locating on the fringes of the city. Many small towns and Native reserves use this as their primary shopping destination. Since Portage la Prairie is a commercial hub for the Central Plains Area, it serves some 50,000 people living within an approximately 50 km radius. Portage la Prairie is a farming city, with around 120 to 125 frost free days, and a USDA Plant Hardiness Zone of 3a. Agriculture is the city's main industry.
Various new residential developments and an upsurge in renovating older homes is contributing to the improvement of housing stock in the community. All of these new housing developments are occurring on the south side of the town, on or near Crescent Lake and Garrioch Creek.
Flooding also poses an occasional problem in the rural area of Portage la Prairie, especially during the spring.
In 2010 MoneySense as part of MSN's news site rated Portage La Prairie in a tie for Canada's worst city to live in, with relation to population decline. However, according to the recent 2012 MoneySense statistics, a series of polls in a number of different areas that relate to the benefits of living in a city, rated Portage la Prairie as the 49th best city to live in overall (out of 190 Canadian communities), in Canada, and the 8th best in its population group. This is due to recent community revitalization programs and measures that have been taken to promote growth and industry, safety, culture, infrastructure, etc., which have significantly contributed to the growth, prosperity and strengthening economy of the community.
Portage la Prairie is home to the Portage Terriers ice hockey team, who play in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, and the Central Plains Capitals  ice hockey team, who play in the Manitoba Midget 'AAA' Hockey League. Both teams play in the Portage Credit Union Centre. Portage la Prairie is the home of NHL player Arron Asham, who has played for the Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers Pittsburgh Penguins, and currently plays for the New York Rangers.
Portage's old Centennial Arena also shared hosting duties of the 1999 World Junior Hockey Championships with Winnipeg, Morden and Selkirk...one arena located in the old Centennial Arena is now being used by ringette and hockey teams, which provides these teams with extra ice time/practice time when the PCU Centre is occupied.
Scenes of the hockey movie "Goon" and "Keep Your Head Up Kid: The Don Cherry Story" were filmed in the Portage Credit Union Centre.
The Uniroyal/Goodrich World Junior Curling Championships were held at the Portage Curling Club in 1990. Canadian women skiped by then Cathy Overton, won bronze. The Portage Curling Club has also played host to the National Senior and Mixed Championships in Curling. It was also a longtime stop on the World Curling Tour hosting the McCain Super Spiel West drawing curling celebrities such as Jeff Stoughton, Vic Peters, Kerry Burtnyk, Ron Howard, Wayne Middaugh, Ed Werenich and others.
Portage is represented in the Manitoba Major Soccer League by the Portage Aeros in the MMSL Second Division and by the Portage United in the MMSL Third Division. The Portage Blaze Women's Soccer Club plays in the First Division of the Winnipeg Women's Soccer League. Their home fields are located in the Republic of Manitobah Park in the south-east corner of the city. The park has a dozen different sized soccer pitches, many baseball/softball diamonds and a rugby pitch.
Portage was a popular stop on the Great Western Manitoba Harnass Racing circuit, but in 2009 the ½ mile horse race track and stands were removed to make way for the Portage Credit Union Centre, a new community centre with two arenas (one the new home of the Terriers) and a water park. The former horse race stands were known as the Pan-Am Stadium and played host to baseball during the Winnipeg Pan-Am Games in 1967.
Portage la Prairie also has a large amount of youth sports. Hockey, soccer and baseball have youth sports leagues within the city. Football is played in the Winnipeg Youth Football League with many teams of varying ages using the name Portage Pitbulls. Basketball is also played in Winnipeg in both the Rising Stars League and various community clubs. Also there is a healthy competition between the 4 junior high schools in sports such as basketball, volleyball and curling. The local high school, Portage Collegiate Institute, fields boys' and girls' teams in the Manitoba High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) in sports such as curling, hockey, basketball, football, volleyball, soccer, track & field, cross country running, badminton and others.
- Environment Canada. "Top Canadian Weather Winners". Retrieved 2011-10-06.
- "Lawn and Garden: Portage La Prairie, MB". The Weather Network. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
- Environment Canada—Canadian Climate Normals 1971–2000. Retrieved 9 July 2009.
- "Pickering, Ontario (City) Census Subdivision". Community Profiles, Canada 2006 Census. Statistics Canada.
- Maxwell, Jordan (26 August 2011). "Documentary on residential schools shoots in Portage". Portage Daily Graphic. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
- Veseys. "Manitoba". Retrieved 2008-09-30.
- "Canada's worst places to live: Population decline". MSN. 1 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
- "Canada's best places to live". MSN. 20 March 2012.
- Tampa Sister Cities from City of Tampa website
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Portage la Prairie|
- Portage la Prairie website
- Fort la Reine Museum and Pioneer Village
- Manitoba Museum of the Titanic
- Statistics Canada 2006 Community Profile - Portage la Prairie, Manitoba
- Map of Portage la Prairie at Statcan