Republic of Manitobah

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The Republic of Manitobah was a short-lived, unrecognized state founded in June 1867 by Thomas Spence at the town of Portage la Prairie in what is now the Canadian province of Manitoba.


During this time the future province was still part of Rupert's Land, a territory owned by the Hudson's Bay Company. It was soon to become a part of the Northwest Territories when Canada purchased Rupert's Land from "the Bay" in 1869.

As Portage la Prairie had no government, laws or taxation at the time, Spence and a group of local settlers wrote to Queen Victoria asking for recognition as a political entity. There was no reply. Spence organized the community as the "Republic of Caledonia" in January 1868. The name was later changed to the Republic of Manitobah, after a local lake.[1]


The republic never had clearly defined borders, and could not persuade local Hudson’s Bay Company traders to pay their taxes. By late spring 1868, the Republic had been informed by the Colonial Office in London that its government had no power. The Republic's problems were compounded by misappropriation of tax funds, and a botched treason trial. The Republic of Manitobah collapsed before it had a chance to blossom.

Thomas Spence served in the council for Louis Riel’s Provisional Government, whose actions led to the formation of the Province of Manitoba within Canada on May 12, 1870.


The story of the Republic of Manitobah was made into a humorous animated short by the National Film Board of Canada in 1978, as a part of the Canada Vignettes series.[2][3]


  1. ^ Chafe, J. W. (1973). Extraordinary tales from Manitoba history. Historical and Scientific Society of Manitoba. McClelland and Stewart Limited. p. 84. ISBN 0-7710-1951-3. 
  2. ^ Spence's Republic on YouTube
  3. ^ Spence's Republic at National Film Board of Canada page

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