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Page Index of A History of Portage la Praire
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It's a place where many explorers Started a portage d er the plain;
It's a place that many a voyager Hoped, some day, to see once again.
It's a place of the birth of leaders
Whose names have been written on files.
It's a place that knew struggle and worry, But has ridden life's rough bumps with smiles.
A benevolent hand seems to hover
O'er the spot where Portage was planned, And The Giver of life's very best things Seems to bless all the homes and the land.
Anne M. Collier
Portage Ia Prairie, which is known far and wide as the huh of Central Manitoba, got its name from French for 'prairie portage'. I t was here that the fur traders portaged from the Assiniboine River to a creek, approximately nine miles distant, and thence by canoes to Lake Manitoba. (See "First Furrows" by A. C. Garrioch - page 6.) The creek became known as Portage Creek which name is self explanatory.
The locality underwent a change of name three times before the final one of Portage Ia Prairie became permanent. Prairie Portage, Meadow Portage (Thompson) and Plain Portage (Harmon) the preceding ones.
The city stands beside the Assiniboine River at the south end of the portage, near where La Verendrye built Fort de la Reine between the years 1739 and 1744. It continued to be one of the chief trading posts of the French in the west un til the cession of Canada to Great Britain. After that it was occupied from time to time by traders.
The history of Portage Ia Prairie is filled with as much excite ment and adventure as many of the more renowned U.S.A. towns that have been immortalized through books and motion pictures. This city, for instance was the centre of the fur trade for western Canada; it was once a republic (fortunately for only a brief spell); and at one time it was almost burned to the ground by an arsonist.
Portage la Prairie is very favorably situated. It is only 52 miles from Winnipeg, the Capital of our province; 80 miles from Brandon,