The Pinawa Heritage Sundial

Pinawa Heritage Sundial Conceptual Design
What do they mean?
Visit the Voyageurs.
Learn about agriculture in Manitoba.
Learn about forestry in Manitoba.
Learn about mining in Manitoba.


Industry - Forestry, Mining and Agriculture

As one moves from west to east, from the prairie to the boreal forest, there is a discernible climb in altitude. The forest has been home to a variety of industries that have taken advantage of the plentiful supplies of wood pulp, minerals and even packets of arable soil.

For almost a century and a half, determined agriculturalists have been claiming available patches of land in the region to create small farms. The clayey soils here are almost identical to those found in the Red River Valley and support oilseeds, cereal crops and pasture. However, large packets of sandy soil and exposed bedrock limit fields and pastures to a much smaller size than that of prairie farms. While farmland can be found both north and east of here, this terrain represents the innermost limits of agriculture in the Shield.

Forests make up about 26.3 million hectares of the province's 54.8-million hectare land base. The boreal forest that encompasses this region is the largest forest zone. It consists of black spruce found on the lowlands and fens, and jack pine, poplar and white spruce on the uplands. The boreal forests support the majority of the province's forest industry, providing resources for kraft paper, lumber and newsprint.

Early gold exploration at the southern boundary of the Whiteshell Park helped open up the area in the 1930s. Today, exploration continues, especially to the north of Pinawa. Mining of traditional metallic and industrial minerals such as gold, copper, nickel, granite, limestone, tyndall stone, peat, sand and gravel has been expanded to include minerals that reflect the high-tech age such as tantalum, lithium, cesium, cobalt and platinum-group elements.

The Coming of Europeans: Voyageur Fur Traders

By 1700, the French colonists in Montreal were shipping furs back to Europe. As local fur stocks became depleted, the west was explored for new supplies. In 1738, La Vérendrye travelled as far as lake Winnipeg. The North West Company was formed in 1784 to exploit the furs in this region. During this time, brigades of canoes, paddled by voyageurs, were regularly passing the Pinawa shoreline. Made from birch bark, each canoe was 8 metres long, paddled by 5 men, carrying 1˝ tonnes. This load had to be portaged around each rapid. To bypass the huge rapids at Seven Sisters, the Pinawa Channel was used. Hence the name "Pinawa" means "calm waters".

The Coming of Europeans: Voyageur Fur Traders

"Modern" Transportation - Rail, Air and Road

If you were to examine the map of Manitoba you would notice a web of roads, rail lines and communities throughout the prairie. In the Precambrian Shield however, forbidding terrain has limited the development of transportation and indeed, many boreal communities still depend on winter roads and/or bush planes for access. Even where you now stand was, until 1960, equally isolated.

The first incursion into the Canadian Shield was by rail. In 1877, work began on the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and by 1910, a second line belonging to the Canadian National Railway (CNR) was also operational. Locally, rail development was linked to the development of hydro-electric power along the Winnipeg River. In 1908, a short railroad was constructed from Lac du Bonnet to Point du Bois to allow construction and maintenance of the hydro-electric dam located there.

In 1926, the RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force)
transferred their air base from Victoria Beach to Lac du Bonnet. This new location, though only a float base, provided access for forest protection surveillance, air photography and Department of Agriculture work. In 1933, the airport was provided with a runway, allowing access to both float and wheeled aircraft. By 1937 though, the air field became essentially inactive except for a remaining private interest. In 1993, it received a much-needed upgrade and today air traffic servicing the region is still operational out of Lac du Bonnet.

The first roads into the area were seasonal weather-dependent affairs. Many originated as access corridors for forestry, mining and fire suppression. Others, such as PTH 44, were developed as employment projects during the 1930s. With the rise of automobile and transportation-vehicle use, highway development grew. Today, highways 11 and 44 are major conveyances dissecting the local region.


The topographical features surrounding Pinawa, and indeed, present within most of Canada and parts of the northern U.S., have been profoundly influenced by glaciation. Over the preceding 2.5 million years, four great glacial periods have occurred, some lasting up to 500,000 years. The last period, called the Wisconsinan Glaciation, lasted about 140,000 years, finally retreating about 10,000 years ago. During this time, the ice, often several kilometres thick, advanced and retreated numerous times. These repeated fluctuations left many features still visible today; for example, gravelly mounds (called "moraines") such as Milner Ridge, the exposed and polished bedrock of the Canadian Shield and a terrain holding thousands of lakes and rivers.

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Canada Millennium Partnership Program Western Economic Diversification Canada Winnipeg River Brokenhead Community Futures Development Corp. Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism

Local Government District of Pinawa