History of the Area

Human habitation of the Manigotagan area began at least 6,000 years ago. The Wanipigow Lake Archaeological Site, which is located North of the community of Manigotagan, contains a wealth of information about past Aboriginal lifeways, making it one of the most significant sites in Manitoba (7). More intensive use of the site occurred about 2,000 years ago by an Aboriginal people belonging to the Laurel culture. (The name Laurel comes from their distinctive pottery, which was the earliest in Manitoba.) The presence of Laurel people represents a shift from a reliance on grassland to forest and aquatic resources such as fish, small mammals, waterfowl and wild rice. The first solid evidence of intensive harvesting of wild rice and goosefoot in Manitoba was found at the Wanipigow Archaeological Site (7).

The most intensive and continuous use of the Wanipigow Lake Archaeological Site occurred between 1200 and 300 years ago. Distinctive types of pottery known as Blackduck, Selkirk and Sandy Lake were recovered in large quantities. These were made by different groups of Aboriginal people who occupied much of current day Manitoba between 700 and 1640 A.D. (7).

Europeans arrived in the area in the 17th century and the fur trade began (See section (pdf) The History of Fur Trade in the Manigotagan Area). The first permanent settlements date back to the 19th century when the fur trade was still strong and the rivers used as the main transportation routes. The Manigotagan Post was established in 1887. This site was originally known as Bad Throat Post (note: another name for Manigotagan is Anacootaugan River). The post was abandoned after 1893 when the fur industry came to a halt (5,6,9). The current community of Manigotagan is located near this site. The economy of the region was focused on natural resources. In the early days of settlement, people continued to live off the land. The main food sources were wild rice, berries and moose, deer, beaver, muskrat and rabbits. The monetary economy was focused on fur and timber as Manigotagan provided access to saw logs and timber resources in the area (6).

The population, which is partly Métis (mostly Scottish and French descent) and Aboriginal, still connects to its roots and there is a community trap line that is used to educate children and youth about their ancestral skills. However, today these activities are largely recreational and only a few people still have active trap lines. Today's economic activities include forestry (a major employer is Tembec.), commercial fishing, wild rice harvesting and tourism (3). Moose continue to be an important food source (8).

In the beginning of the 20th century, gold was found in the Manigotagan area and the 'East Central Manitoba Gold Rush' began (1). During this time, the Manigotagan River was used as a major transportation route to access the gold mines near Bissett. It had already gained importance as a transportation route to access the timber logs in the surrounding area. It lasted until the 1960s when the last mine closed. However, gold mines have reopened in the Bissett area and mining is, once again, an important economic activity (See section on Mining History).

Today, several communities co-exist in the area: Manigotagan, Aghaming, Seymourville and Hollow Water. Aghaming is a small community with a population of 10, Seymourville has a population of 135 (2,3,4). The communities share services, such as schools. For more information, see sections on the community of Manigotagan and Hollow Water. There are also newer cottage developments (Pelican Point, Blueberry point, Driftwood Beach, Ayer's Cove and Mantago Bay) on the shore of Lake Winnipeg.

With thanks to the Centre for Rupert's Land Studies at the University of Winnipeg.


(1) Bérard. 1979. The Bird-Manigotagan Waterways Map. Manitoba Department of Natural Resources, Parks Branch.

(2) Government of Manitoba. 2003. Community Profiles: Aghaming.
http://www.gov.mb.ca/ana/community_profiles/pdf/aghaming.pdf. Accessed 22/10/2006

(3) Government of Manitoba. 2003. Northern Community Profiles: Manigotagan. http://www.communityprofiles.mb.ca/cgi-bin/northern/index.cgi?id=manigotagan.
Accessed 22/10/2006

(4) Government of Manitoba. 2003. Community Profiles: Seymourville.

(5) Lindsay, Anne. Centre for Rupert's Land Studies at University of Winnipeg. Personal Communication. 13/10/2006.

(6) Lytwyn V.P. 1986. The fur trade of the little north: Indians, pedlars, and englishmen east of lake Winnipeg, 1760-1821. Rupert's Land Research Centre, University of Winnipeg. Winnipeg, Manitoba.

(7) Manitoba Culture, History and Tourism. Manitoba Provincial Heritage Site No. 6. Wanipigow Archaeological Site. http://www.gov.mb.ca/chc/hrb/prov/p006.html. Accessed 23/10/2006.

(8) Simard, Charles. Manigotagan River Steward. Personal Communication. 20/07/2006.

(9) The Hudson's Bay Archives (Keystone Records). Accessed 10/10/2006.

For more information:

University of Winnipeg, Department of Anthropology. Handbook of the North American Indians.

Sturtevant, William , C. (General Editor esp.). 1981. Vol. 6, Subarctic, June Helm, Vol. Ed. 837 pp. S/N 047-000-00374-1.