Community Profile

Location & History
Neepawa is a town in Manitoba, Canada located on the Yellowhead Highway # 16, at the intersection with Highway 5. As of 2011 its population has grown to over 4000 people.   Neepawa was incorporated as a town in 1883.  Neepawa is the self-proclaimed Lily capital of the world in part because of its Lily Festival.  The town has also been named "Manitoba's Most Beautiful Town", more than any other community in the province.

In the many years before European settlement, the lands around Neepawa were primarily used by the Cree, Assiniboine, Ojibway, and the Sioux.  These First Nations people followed a regular cycle dictated by the Plains Bison which took shelter in the areas north of Neepawa in the winter and then heading south again across the plains and beyond Neepawa in the summer. The town name of Neepawa comes from the Cree word for "Land of Plenty", the name was first used around 1873.  Prior to settlement, the only Europeans in the area were primarily fur traders.

When Province of Manitoba was established in 1870, the Neepawa area was located in what was then known as "The Northwest Territories", just to the west of the postage stamp province. During the next 30 years, many settlers came to live in the area. The first settlers were from the British Isles. Eastern European settlers also came from countries such as Poland and Hungary and built the Hun Valley Settlement near Neepawa.  Neepawa only joined Manitoba when the western edge of the Province was expanded to its present western borders in 1881.

Author Margaret Laurence wrote several books through the 1960s and 1970s, depicting the town under the name of Manawaka. On May 12, 2010 Neepawa was the host of Manitoba's 140th birthday party. The town was chosen as the site of the festivities as a result of winning a contest within the province.[10]

Geography

Neepawa lies on the Manitoba Escarpment, the rolling hills around Neepawa are typical of the escarpment. Neepawa lies within the Canadian Prairies, the region around Neepawa is defined as Aspen parkland. Although Neepawa is part of the prairies the area to the north is heavily forested parkland. Riding Mountain National Park and Duck Mountain Provincial Park lie to the north, are part of this parkland, and are also an extension of the escarpment. The boreal forest which extends all the way across Canada, is also found to the north of Neepawa. Spruce Woods Provincial Park is located about 60 km south of the town.

Neepawa lies at the source of the Whitemud River, it is also about 40 km east of the Little Saskatchewan River, a tributary of the Assiniboine River which is 60 km south of the town. The town is also about 60 km west of Lake Manitoba, one of the largest lakes in Manitoba.

Climate

Climate data for Neepawa

Month

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Year

Record high °C (°F)

7
(45)

10
(50)

17
(63)

34
(93)

36
(97)

37
(99)

36
(97)

37.5
(99.5)

35.5
(95.9)

30
(86)

20.6
(69.1)

8.3
(46.9)

37.5

Average high °C (°F)

-11.9
(10.6)

-8
(18)

-0.9
(30.4)

9.4
(48.9)

17.9
(64.2)

22.4
(72.3)

24.8
(76.6)

24.2
(75.6)

17.7
(63.9)

10.4
(50.7)

-1
(30)

-9.3
(15.3)

8
(46)

Average low °C (°F)

-22.2
(-8)

-18.5
(-1.3)

-11.2
(11.8)

-2.6
(27.3)

5.1
(41.2)

10.6
(51.1)

13
(55)

11.5
(52.7)

6.1
(43)

-0.1
(31.8)

-9.4
(15.1)

-18.9
(-2)

-3.1
(26.4)

Record low °C (°F)

-41
(-42)

-42.5
(-44.5)

-36
(-33)

-27.2
(-17)

-12
(10)

-0
(32)

3
(37)

0
(32)

-6
(21)

-21
(-6)

-34
(-29)

-42
(-44)

-42.5

Precipitation mm (inches)

20.1
(0.791)

14.6
(0.575)

24.4
(0.961)

35
(1.38)

58.4
(2.299)

79.5
(3.13)

82
(3.23)

70.4
(2.772)

57.9
(2.28)

31.3
(1.232)

20.8
(0.819)

22
(0.87)

516.3
(20.327)

Source: Environment Canada[11]

Economy

The economy of Neepawa and the region is strongly dependent on agriculture. The rolling fields in the area support many types of crops and livestock operations. Neepawa serves as a major agricultural service centre for many of the producers in the region.

Growers in Neepawa produce some of the finest and most diverse lilies in the world. As of 2009 over 2,000 kinds of Lily were grown locally.  These flowers are shipped directly from Neepawa to many of the major international floral markets. Neepawa proclaims itself the "Lily capital of the world". Neepawa also attracts a number of tourists throughout the year in part because of the lilies. An estimated 12,000 people visit the Lily Festival and Neepawa each July.

As well as being an agricultural centre, Neepawa's businesses serve as a shopping and retail centre for much of the area's residents.

Education

Hazel M. Kellington Elementary School (named after long time teacher) has about 350 students and the Neepawa Area Collegiate Institute has about 500 students. Neepawa Nursery School teaches 3 and 4 year old children. Neepawa is part of the Beautiful Plains School Division

Assiniboine Community College has a campus in Neepawa and offers various post-secondary courses.

Transportation

The Town of Neepawa is located along the Yellowhead Highway 16 and Highway 5.  The community is located 45 minutes northeast of Brandon, the region's largest centre, and 2 hours northwest of Winnipeg, the provincial capital. Neepawa is also located 1 hour from Riding Mountain National Park. The Town features a 3,500 foot runway that is able to service air ambulance and small jets. The Canadian Pacific Railway services Neepawa for freight transportation. Neepawa is serviced by both Grey Goose and Greyhound Bus lines. Daily Courier services are provided by three major companies. Trucking services are provided by Gladstone Transfer and Gardewine, which maintains a depot in Neepawa.

 Attractions

Margaret Laurence Home
The Margaret Laurence Home is a designated Provincial Heritage Site and a Level 2 Museum. This is the house where Margaret Laurence grew up in Neepawa as a youth. In addition the Riverside Cemetery in Neepawa is her final resting place. The cemetery's Davidson Memorial was the signature of Laurence's book The Stone Angel.  This cemetery is also the furthest west that any Titanic passenger was buried.  The Beautiful Plains Museum is a Heritage Railway Station that has been the home of the museum since 1981. The original railway station itself was built in 1901.
Lily Festival
 The Lily Festival in Neepawa first began in 1996 and today features the over 2,000 different kinds of Lily that are grown in Neepawa.  Neepawa hosts over 12,000 visitors in the town every year during the Lily Festival each July.
 Roxy Theatre
The Roxy Theatre, originally built as the Neepawa Opera House, one of Manitoba's oldest entertainment establishments. Construction began in 1905 after the town's first opera house had been destroyed by fire. By early spring the next year, it became operational. The new Opera House established itself as the social hub of the community. Its stage was home to vaudeville, burlesque, silent movies, talkies, victory drives, and of course, operas. It also housed many political debates and appearances by politicians such as Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King and Manitoba Premier John Bracken.

By the early 1930s, the Opera House had been converted to the Roxy Theatre. But over the years, changes affecting leisure activity, especially the advent of television, made it difficult to maintain interest in the theatre. The theatre had been closed for several years before it reopened in July 1988 under the administration of the Neepawa Theatre Center (NTC).

Government

Neepawa is governed by a town council consisting of a mayor and six councillors. The town council is elected to a four-year term. 

Sports

Junior and senior sports teams in Neepawa include:

Media

Newspapers

  • Neepawa Banner - weekly (circulation 11,000)
  • Neepawa Press - weekly (circulation 8,856)

Radio

Television

Notable natives