Jump to a Section
How Wawanesa Got It’s Name
Wawanesa was originally called Sipiweske. The word “Sipiweske” (pronounced “Sip-O-Whiskey”) means “light through the trees” in the Cree language. In 1890, after some obvious controversy, the name of the town was changed to Wawanesa, which is believed to be Cree for “Whip-poor-will”.
Brief History of Wawanesa
The first people to inhabit the area were First Nations people, mainly Cree and Sioux. The first Europeans settled in the late 1800′s, with the early pioneers breaking the land for farms. By 1882, harvests were large enough to demand a local marketing centre. Even as the community grew, it could not provide all the services the farmers wanted. In 1890, the Northern Pacific Railroad (later the C.N.R.) moved through the area and with it came the construction of grain elevators and service centres that made the long and dangerous trip to Brandon almost unnecessary. With the arrival of the railroad, the village grew and Wawanesa was a flourishing rural community at the turn of the century.
Much of the land surrounding Wawanesa is rooted deeply in agriculture and crop production. The Souris River winds it’s way through the village, and the valley created by its banks offers a visual experience somewhat unique to most areas of the Canadian Prairies.
The following is a timeline of the history of Wawanesa since the first European Visitor.
1797 - On November 28, David Thompson camped on the edge of the Souris River in a place the Cree called Sipiweske, meaning “Light through the trees”. This was present day Wawanesa.
Late 1800′s - The area first began to be settled by peoples of European descent.
1889 – First store built by J.J. Story, present site of Wawanesa Lucky Dollar.
1890 – Name changed from Sipiweske to Wawanesa.
1892 – “The Enterprise”, the first newspaper, was started.
1896 – Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company was started.
1903 – Telephone service began.
1909 – Wawanesa Village was incorporated.
1929 – Hydro service came to Wawanesa.
1951 – Dam rebuilt.
1953 - Hospital opened.
1954 – Telephone Service came to Wawanesa.
1976 – “Hundred year flood” occurred, damaging or destroying low lying property.
1989 – Wawanesa Centennial.
1996 – Wawanesa Mutual Centennial.
2003 – Manitoba’s first Geothermal subdivision begins construction.
For more detailed historical information, check out Wawanesa: A Prairie Heritage, a Digital Collections site detailing the history of Wawanesa and the surrounding area.