Portage la Prairie | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Portage la Prairie

Portage la Prairie, MB, incorporated as a city in 1907, population 13,270 (2021 census), 13,304 (2016 census). The city of Portage la Prairie, located 70 km west of Winnipeg, is an important regional service centre for the flat but highly fertile soils of the surrounding Portage Plains.


Fort la Reine was built in the Portage la Prairie area by Pierre Gaultier de La Vérendrye in 1738. After 1794, both the North West Company and Hudson's Bay Company maintained trading posts at the portage la prairie, or the place canoes could be carried overland between the Assiniboine River and Lake Manitoba. Permanent European settlement began after 1851, when the Reverend William Cockran (also known as Cochrane) established a mission there.

In 1867-68, the still tiny settlement became the capital of Thomas Spence's short-lived “colony” of Manitobah. After the Canadian Pacific Railway reached Portage la Prairie in 1880, the population grew rapidly, and the town was incorporated.


Since its incorporation, Portage la Prairie has successfully built on its accessible location and agricultural resources to become one of the most prosperous communities in Manitoba.

Agriculture and related processing and services are a mainstay of the economy. Along with handling the district’s traditional grain and field crops, Portage la Prairie industries now process a diverse line of food products. In addition, the provincial Food Development Centre is located in Portage la Prairie.

Situated on the Trans-Canada Highway and both major railway main lines, the city has attracted a variety of other businesses to the its industrial parks. The nearby site of a former Canadian Forces Base (closed in 1992) is home to another industrial park, Southport Aerospace Centre Inc.

Cultural Life

The city's main performance venue is the William Glesby Centre, which also includes an art gallery. Fort la Reine Museum features historical buildings, railway cars and a collection of farm equipment. Portage la Prairie's newspaper is The Graphic Leader.

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