Gretna is a town in south-central Manitoba, Canada. It is located just north of the Canada - United States border on PTH 30. As of 2006, the population of Gretna was 574. It is bordered on the west, north, and east by the Rural Municipality of Rhineland. On the south it is bordered by Pembina County, North Dakota. The nearest American community to Gretna is Neche, North Dakota.
Once home to roaming Buffalo herds, the area around Gretna attracted European settlers as far back as the early 19th century. Originally, Gretna was only known as "Smuggler's Point", a simple border crossing where the flow of undeclared goods were smuggled over the border by early settlers and fur trappers. Soon after establishing the 49th parallel as the international border, Gretna became an important customs centre and border town for both the Canadian and American governments.
Gretna’s strategic geographic location raised the interest of the Canadian Pacific Railway which encouraged the creation of large grain elevator operations in the area. The Ogilvie Milling Company was one of the first and most prominent private companies in Gretna around the turn of the 20th century. It is believed company founder William Ogilvie, originally from Scotland, named Gretna after Gretna Green in Scotland, also a border town, where runaway couples were married by the blacksmith at his anvil.
Gretna soon became a prominent border town. As businesses thrived and expanded, Gretna life in the early 20th century was filled with promise and opportunity. As progress would have it, changes afforded Gretna no favours and the town began losing the grain milling industry responsible for its boom.
After the World War II, Gretna became the centre for oil transfer to the United States of America. Enbridge Pipelines Inc. (the main storage and transfer company of oil in southern Manitoba) has been a supporting member of the Gretna economy for the past 50 years.
- 2006 Community Profiles - Gretna, Manitoba. Statistics Canada. Accessed October 26, 2009.
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