Southwest Region

A Francophone presence for more than 200 years

Manitoba’s southwest region stretches from the Red River Valley to the small francophone community of St. Lazare near the Saskatchewan border, and includes the Pembina Valley region and the Métis community of St. Laurent, on the shores of Lake Manitoba. The area boasts some of the most fertile farmland in the province. Picture endless fields of golden wheat stretched out under a vast azure sky… a breathtaking scene that is typical of this magnificent region so rich in agriculture and history.

This area has witnessed a strong francophone presence for nearly 200 years. The prairies of the Red River Valley were the staging area for the great Métis buffalo hunts. The Pembina Valley region drew countless European settlers and was immortalized in La Route d’Altamont, a collection of writings by the acclaimed Manitoba author, Gabrielle Roy.


Approx Population: 41
As its name suggests, the village of Bruxelles (French for Belgium's capital Brussels) was settled by Belgian immigrants in 1892.


Approx Population: 25
The little town of Cardinal was established in 1888. Located a few kilometres south of Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes, Cardinal prospered following the arrival of the railroad in 1905, but this growth was slowed when railway activity was abandoned in 1959.

Grande Pointe

Approx Population: 555
Located near Winnipeg, this community was hit hard by the “Flood of the Century” in 1997 when two thirds of the homes were destroyed by the rising Red River. Nevertheless, new houses have gone up and the community continues to thrive and grow.


Approx Population: 439
The Métis community known as “Saint-Pie” became the village of Letellier in 1879, with the arrival of immigrants from Quebec and the United States who answered the call of the region’s missionary Oblate priest, Father Lacombe.


Approx Population: 620
This community located 100 kilometres south-west of Winnipeg gets its charm from the local residents, with their distinct European accents and old-world hospitality.


Festival and Events

St. Adolphe

Approx Population: 500
Initially established as a St. Norbert mission in 1857, the St. Adolphe area, located along the Red River between Winnipeg and Ste. Agathe, was originally settled by Métis. Despite the devastating floods of 1826 and 1852, settlers from the Red River region relocated to this area during the latter half of the 19th century. Many more followed from Quebec, Eastern Canada and the United States. They were farmers and horticulturalists who sold their products in Winnipeg.

St. Claude

Approx Population: 620
The community of St. Claude is so proud of its French roots that area residents have been celebrating France’s Bastille Day (July 14) for more than a century. You may well wonder a massive pipe graces the town entrance. This landmark was constructed in recognition of the area’s first settlers, who were from a town also called St. Claude, located in the Jura region of France and internationally renowned for its pipe manufacturing!


Festival and Events

Ste. Agathe

Approx Population: 500
Ste. Agathe’s history is not unlike that of many of the surrounding communities. Some twenty Métis families were already living in the town when it was officially established in 1876. The settlement was known at that time as “Pointe-à-Grouette.” Between 1879 and 1882, farmers from Quebec also settled in the area and began to farm the land on the banks of the Red River.


Festival and Events

St. Jean-Baptiste

Approx Population: 1 050
As was typically the case elsewhere along the Red River Valley, the area around St. Jean Baptiste was settled in the early 1870s by Métis families from St. Norbert. At that time, it was called “Mission Rivière aux Prunes” because of the abundance of wild plums growing along the river banks. When they were joined by twenty families from Quebec and the Eastern U.S., Bishop Taché decided to establish a new parish, naming it St. Jean Baptiste in honour of the patron saint of French-Canadians.


St. Joseph

Approx Population: 200
Unlike many francophone communities in the Red River Valley, St. Joseph (est. 1889) is not located by the river, but rather six kilometres west of Letellier.


Festival and Events

St. Laurent

Approx Population: 1000
Welcome to St. Laurent, ain village de fières Michifs—a proud Métis community—located just under 60 kilometres north of Winnipeg, on the shores of Lake Manitoba. St. Laurent has the largest concentration of Métis people in North America! For a taste of authentic Métis culture, come to St. Laurent, where you are likely to run into someone who still speaks the traditional Michif language.

Festival and Events

St. Lazare

Approx Population: 300
This francophone town with its breathtaking scenery is nestled in the Assiniboine Valley near the Saskatchewan border, in one of the prettiest parts in the province.


Festival and Events

St. Léon

Approx Population: 150
Before the founding of St. Léon in 1879, the Pembina Hills region was largely the domain of Aboriginals, French trappers and the Métis, who called the area prairie ronde (round prairie) because of its rolling hills.


St. Lupicin

Approx Population: 10
Established in 1891, St. Lupicin is the birthplace of Henri Bergeron, Canada’s first French-language television host and the host of the Les Beaux Dimanches program on Radio-Canada for 18 years.


Approx Population: 480
The village of Somerset is perched atop the Pembina Mountain with an unparalleled view of the St. Léon wind farm and the beautiful patchwork of surrounding fertile fields.


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