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Grande Prairie, AB, incorporated as a city in 1958, population 63,166 (2016 census), 55,655 (2011 census). The city of Grande Prairie is located 456 km northwest of Edmonton and takes its name from the large prairie that lies to the east, north and west of it. The city is the business and transportation centre of Alberta’s Peace River region.
Henry Kelsey, explorer, fur trader, sailor (born c. 1667 in East Greenwich near London, England; died 1724 in East Greenwich, England). Kelsey was an explorer and trader who worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) for nearly 40 years. He helped establish the Company’s fur trade operations at York Fort on the west coast of Hudson Bay and at Fort Albany on James Bay. Kelsey is best known for his two-year journey from Hudson Bay to the western interior between 1690 and 1692, making him the first European to see the Prairies. His goal was to encourage Indigenous peoples living inland to travel to York Fort to trade their furs.
Saskatchewan is part of the Prairie region and is the only province with entirely artificial boundaries. It is bordered by the US to the south, the Northwest Territories to the north, and Manitoba and Alberta to the east and west respectively. It was created from the Northwest Territories in 1905, at the same time as Alberta, and shares with that province the distinction of having no coast on salt water. The name, which was first used officially for a district of the Northwest Territories in 1882, is derived from an anglicized version of a Cree word, kisiskâciwanisîpiy, meaning “swiftly flowing river.”
Greater Prairie Chicken
The greater prairie chicken (Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus) is a type of grouse. Native to central North America, the greater prairie chicken is extirpated in Canada, but continues to live in parts of the United States, in particular in Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota. In Canada, the greater prairie chicken lived in southern Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as well as in southern and western Ontario. It was first listed as extirpated in 1990. The bird’s disappearance in Canada was due primarily to the conversion of its natural habitat, grassland, to farmland. The greater prairie chicken is culturally significant to Siksika (Blackfoot) and Plains Cree First Nations in Canada, and lives on in their prairie chicken powwow dance.
Cowboys and Cowgirls in Canada
Cowboys and cowgirls are people employed to tend cattle or horses. The first cowboys to work on the Canadian prairies arrived in the 1870s. The traditional cowboy lifestyle has since given way to a more contained, corporate model of ranching. But the romanticized image of the cowboy on the “open range” lives on as a symbol of the prairies. Today, the terms cowboy and cowgirl can refer to ranch workers or rodeo competitors.
Geography of Manitoba
Manitoba is divided by three of Canada’s seven physiographic regions. These three regions are the Hudson Bay Lowland, the Canadian Shield and the
Interior Plains. Most of Manitoba’s population is concentrated in the southeastern corner of the province,
in the Interior Plains physiographic region. This region is also where most of Manitoba’s arable land is located. By comparison, the Hudson Bay Lowland and the Canadian Shield are generally not suitable for agriculture. Churchill, Manitoba’s only saltwater port, is located in the Hudson Bay Lowland. Hydroelectric power,
freshwater fishing, metal mines and some forestry are located in the Canadian Shield region.
History of Settlement in the Canadian Prairies
The Canadian Prairies were peopled in six great waves of migration, spanning from prehistory to the present. The migration from Asia, about 13,300 years ago, produced an Indigenous population of 20,000 to 50,000 by about 1640. Between 1640 and 1840, several thousand European and Canadian fur traders arrived, followed by several hundred British immigrants. They created dozens of small outposts and a settlement in the Red River Colony, where the Métis became the largest part of the population. The third wave, from the 1840s to the 1890s, consisted mainly but not solely of Canadians of British heritage. The fourth and by far the largest wave was drawn from many nations, mostly European. It occurred from 1897 to 1929, with a pause (1914–22) during and after the First World War. The fifth wave, drawn from other Canadian provinces and from Europe and elsewhere, commenced in the late 1940s. It lasted through the 1960s. The sixth wave, beginning in the 1970s, drew especially upon peoples of the southern hemisphere. It has continued, with fluctuations, to the present. Throughout the last century, the region has also steadily lost residents, as a result of migration to other parts of Canada, to the United States, and elsewhere.