A metropolis in the making

The Forks National Historic Site

A photo showing people crowded around covered three covered wagons in the street, with five house-like structures in the background.
The intersection of what is now Portage and Main in 1872.
© National Archives of Canada / PA-66785

After quelling the Métis resistance and settling Treaty Indigenous peoples on reserved lands, the Canadian government surveyed millions of hectares of land in preparation for the anticipated influx of immigrants from Europe. The influx was a direct result of the government promoting and encouraging immigration, settlement and railway development in the Canadian West. Between 1870 and 1886, Winnipeg grew from a small settlement into a principal metropolitan centre of Western Canada, and became the "Gateway to the Canadian West". Manitoba's population jumped from 25,000 in 1871 to 150,000 in 1891, with the largest settlement continuing to centre around The Forks.

A horse-drawn wagon, streetcar and pedestrians on a street with buildings on either side.
Main Street in 1889.
© National Archives of Canada / PA-66785

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