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Manitoba from the Air
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The Location of Dauphin

Dauphin, with a population of 7,906 (2006), is the smallest, and at 51º 09' N, the northernmost of the southern cities. It is perhaps best known as the location of the Ukrainian festival that in August of each year draws people from all over North America for celebration of the area’s Ukrainian heritage. The main events now take place at a purpose-built stadium south of the city on the lower flanks of Riding Mountain. The French name seems out of place in a Ukrainian area. However, it was originally applied to a fort founded on the shores of Dauphin Lake (just east of the present city) in 1741 by La Vérendrye.[i] By 1896 there were two settlements in the Dauphin area—Gartmore and Old Dauphin—neither of which exists today. “In 1897 the railway arrived and the tracks were located midway between the two communities. Recognizing the importance of a location on the railway, members of both communities relocated to the new site, physically moving their buildings and businesses. With the coming of the railway, the population in the area grew very quickly.”[ii]

The city is located between Riding Mountain to the south and Duck Mountain to the north on flat land developed on Lake Agassiz sediments. The land is excellent for agriculture, and Dauphin grew principally as a centre for the surrounding agricultural region. It is now also an important regional centre not only for agriculture and culture but also for federal and provincial government functions.

The three photographs included here (figure 12.3, 12.4 and 12.5) show the usefulness of differences of scale and date of photography. In figure 12.3 the city can be seen at the eastern edge of the photo in an area of good agricultural land developed on Lake Agassiz sediments. Several prominent northwest/southeast trending strandlines can be seen west and southwest of the city 1. Vermillion River 2 that flows through the northwestern part of Dauphin drains from Riding Mountain (off the photo to the south) and eventually into Dauphin Lake (off the photo to the east). Edwards Creek 3,a channelized stream, also flows from Riding Mountain to Dauphin Lake, and in the northeast is a small, unnamed intermittent stream 4.[iii]

PTHs 5A and 10A 5 enter Dauphin from the south, pass through the city 6, then exit to the west 7 (they now bypass the city to the west). Also PR 362 exits Dauphin to the north 8. The other major routeway is the CN railway line 9 that runs diagonally through Dauphin from southeast to northwest before branching into two lines in the northwest 10.

Dauphin shows the conflicting influences of the railway route and the DLS system on the settlement pattern. In section 10, township 25, range 19WI 11 in which the older part of the city is located, roads are parallel, and at right angles, to the railway line which is at roughly 45 degrees to the section lines of the DLS system. This area was settled during the late 19th century and early 20th century.[iv] The light-toned commercial area of Dauphin is X-shaped 12 rather than the more usual T-shape.

Outside section 10 on all sides of the city, the road pattern is in harmony with the DLS system 13. To the northwest the railway line separates a commercial industrial area to the northeast 14 from a residential area to the southwest 15, and a commercial strip runs south from the city along PTHs 5A and 10A 16.

Other features to note on this photo are:

1)     the city’s airport is located 2 miles to the south 17; it has the characteristic triangular shape with one longer north-northwest/south-southeast trending runway 18.

2)     a very faint light-toned line seen in the centre 19 and in the west 20 is the route of a buried gas pipeline. Another broken faint line 21 trending east/west is the route followed by a power line. It has a branch leading off to the northwest, best seen where it cuts across dark-toned woodland 22.

3)     There is a racetrack in the southeast corner of section 10 23.


[i] Holm, G. F. ed.Geographical Names of Manitoba. Winnipeg: Manitoba Conservation, 2000, 59.

[ii] Sikora, H. “Dauphin: A Prairie Service Centre” in The Geography of Manitoba: Its Land and Its People. Winnipeg: The University of Winnipeg Press, 1999, 164.

[iii] For details about Edwards Creek see McGinn, R. A. and Towle, J. E. “Flood Control, Erosion and Sedimentation Problems Along Edwards Creek” in The Dauphin Papers: Research by Prairie Geographers. eds. J. Welsted and J. Everitt, Brandon: Brandon University, Department of Geography, Brandon Geographical Studies No. 1, 1991, 31-36.

[iv] For details see Selwood H. J. and Richtik J. M. “Dauphin: Emergence of the Urban Cadaster to 1908” in Welsted J. and Everitt J. op. cit. 1991, 69-78.

Figure 12.3

The Location of Dauphin