Historic Resources Branch
Manitoba Heritage Council Commemorative Plaques
Origin of the Name - Manitoba
East Side of Lake Manitoba at the Narrows
Although Lake Manitoba was named Lac des Prairies in 1738 by La Vérendrye, the Indians knew these waters from time immemorial as the "narrows of the Great Spirit," (in Cree Manitou bau). In stormy weather waves crashing on the limestone rocks of the narrows resounded eerily, and the Indians believed the sound came from a huge drum beaten by Manitou. In 1868 Thomas Spence of Portage la Prairie attempted to create a republic outside the district of Assiniboia to be named Manitobah. His plan failed, but a year later when he joined Louis Riel's Council at Fort Garry, Spence's choice was selected as the name of the new province, and the letter H was dropped.