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Portage la Prairie
Motto: Progress
Portage la Prairie is located in Manitoba
Portage la Prairie
Location of Portage la Prairie in Manitoba
Coordinates: 49°58′23″N 98°17′26″W / 49.97306°N 98.29056°W / 49.97306; -98.29056
Country  Canada
Province  Manitoba
Settled 1738
Incorporated 1880 (town)
 - Mayor Ken Brennan
 - Total 24.67 km2 (9.5 sq mi)
Elevation 262 m (860 ft)
Population (2006)
 - Total 12,728
 Density 515.9/km2 (1,336.2/sq mi)
Time zone Central Time zone (UTC-6)
Area code(s) 204

Portage la Prairie (pronounced /ˈpɔrtɨdʒ lə ˈprɛəri/ in English) is a city in the Central Plains Region of Manitoba, Canada. As of 2006, the population was 12,728. The area of the city was 24.67 square kilometers (9.5 sq mi). It is located approximately 70 kilometres (45 miles) west of Winnipeg and sits on the Assiniboine River, which flooded the town persistently until a ditch north to Lake Manitoba (the Assiniboine River Floodway) was built to divert the flood waters.

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.

According to Environment Canada, Portage la Prairie has the most sunny days in warm months in Canada.[1]



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, all within a few hundred meters of each other. This has made Portage la Prairie one of the most ideal places for railway aficionados to view trains.

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, and, along with many other varieties, are present throughout the city, and is also a huge agricultural area.

It is also the home of former Prime Minister of Canada, Arthur Meighen; a school and an avenue are named in his honour.


Climate data for Portage la Prairie
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 8
Average high °C (°F) -12
Average low °C (°F) -22.6
Record low °C (°F) -42
Precipitation mm (inches) 23.8
Source: Environment Canada[2] 2009-07-09


Portage la Prairie railway station is served by VIA Rail with both The Canadian and Hudson Bay trains calling at the station.

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 a also located near Portage la Prairie and consists of a grass field.


In central Portage la Prairie, there is a peninsula known as Island Park, bounded by an oxbow lake called Crescent Lake. 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 an 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. Also not far southwest lies Spruce Woods Provincial Park and not far north lies St. Ambroise Beach Provincial Park.


Currently the city has embarked on the building of a multi use recreation centre on the Exhibition Grounds. Included are two state of the art arenas, water park and swimming pool along with other amenities.

Other attractions include the world's largest Coca-Cola can. It was constructed from an old water tower and is now located beside the local Canadian Tire and Westpark School; as well as a Potato Festival each summer. It is the world strawberry capital[citation needed] and North American potato processing capital[citation needed]. Many U-pick strawberry and Saskatoon farms are within 15 minute drive by car.

Fort La Reine Museum and Pioneer Village

Fort La Reine depicts life in the 1800s complete with a blacksmith shop, trading post, country church, schoolhouse, and several restored homes. The original fort was built in 1738 by the French explorer Pierre Gaultier de Varennes and served as his headquarters for 15 years. The museum is also home to a railway caboose and the 1882 official rail car of William Van Horne, builder of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Annually, the museum holds an event called Heritage Days where costumed re-enactors and other attractions are brought onto museum grounds.

Aboriginal life

Portage La Prairie and the surrounding area were home to hundreds of Indigenous peoples aboriginal in the 1800s. in the book by Bill Freeman one of the main characters was an assiniboine aboriginal. Nearby are the reservations of Dakota Tipi and Long Plain First Nation.

Manitoba Softball Hall of Fame/Museum

The Manitoba Softball Hall of Fame/Museum is dedicated to the history of softball in Manitoba. It has memorabilia from 1930s to the present. Inductees to the Hall of Fame are showcased. It is housed in the Fort la Reine Museum in a former barracks, moved from nearby Canadian Forces Base Southport.

Portage Arts Centre & Gallery

The Portage Arts Centre & Gallery has monthly exhibits, gift gallery, art classes, and art rental program. In the past, it has also hosted small concerts, including Scott Carman and Graham Tabor.

City Hall

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.


Portage la Prairie has a civilian/military airbase south of the community known as Southport. It was established as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan during World War II and trained thousands of pilots for military service from around the world.

Southport remains a training base for Canadian Forces pilots, but today the base is the home to the Canada Wings Aviation Training Centre. A consortium of civilian contractors collectively known as Allied Wings work hand in hand with Canadian Forces military personnel providing state-of-the-art computer-based, instructor-led, simulator and flight training to ab-initio (primary) pilot candidates, as well as to advanced multi-engine and helicopter pilot candidates.

The 13th Field Battery of the 26th Field Artillery Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery is based out of Portage la Prairie.


A field outside Portage La Prairie

The local economy is largely dependent on agriculture and supporting industries. 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. Can-Oat milling, one of the largest oat mills in the world, is also located in the municipality. 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. Portage la Prairie is a farming city, with around 120 to 125 frost free days, and a USDA Plant Hardiness Zone of 3a.[3] Agriculture is the city's main industry.

City Issues

Problems that plague the city include auto theft and vandalism. Various programs have been created to deal with these issues with limited success.

The city is also faced with a significant housing problem. Many homes are in poor condition resulting in a negative net effect on the neighbourhoods that they are located in. As well, in-effective by-laws and their enforcement policies have in part, allowed the continuation of activities in residential neighbourhoods that further contribute to negative quality of life factors and property de-valuation. Such issues include derelict or unkempt properties, noise and activities that are inappropriate to residential areas ( autobody work, excessive amplification of music, noise disturbances by animals or people etc.), and absentee landlords. The by-law enforcement system works on a complaint base system which city officials claim is successful but which is anecdotally regarded as a failure by the affected populations. This is evidenced by recurring and on-going un-resolved problems. Housing projects, both government and private in various areas have led to significant devaluation of property in areas they are located in. As well these areas have become recognizable due to the social problems and criminal activities which radiate from them to the rest of the community.

In contrast, 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.


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 [1] ice hockey team, who play in the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League. Both teams play in the Portage Centennial Arena. Portage la Prairie is the home of NHL player Arron Asham, who has played for the Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, and currently plays for the Philadelphia Flyers. The Portage Terriers were also the junior home of J.P. Vigier, who plays for the Atlanta Thrashers of the NHL. The Terriers also played host to Junior Lessard, who was named Canadian Junior 'A' Hockey Player of the Year while he played in Portage. He was the winner of the Hobey Baker Award, which is presented to the best player in NCAA hockey. He currently plays for the American Hockey League's San Antonio Rampage in the farm system of the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes. Native Portager Troy Bodie is a recent call-up to the NHL's Anaheim Ducks and was featured in a two page photo in the "Leading Off" section of the January 25, 2010 issue of Sports Illustrated magazine.

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 Fourth Division. The Portage Blaze Women's Soccer Club plays in the Second 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 used to be 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. 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, volleyball, soccer, track & field, cross country running, badminton and others.


Sister cities

Portage la Prairie has formalized sister city agreements with the following cities:[4]

See also


External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

North America : Canada : Prairies : Manitoba : Central Plains : Portage la Prairie

Portage la Prairie is a city in the Central Plains region of Manitoba.

Get in

It is located on the Trans-Canada Highway 1, about 60 km west of Winnipeg.

  • Canad Inns Portage la Prairie, 2401 Saskatchewan Avenue West, +1 204 857-9745, [1]. Rooms from $125.  edit
  • Hi-way Motel, 2010 Saskatchewan Avenue West, +1 204 857-8771, [2]. One and two bed guest rooms. Some rooms have fireplaces. $90-$100, fireplace suites are $160.  edit
Routes through Portage la Prairie
ReginaBrandon  W noframe E  WinnipegThunder Bay
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