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Thompson, Manitoba

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Thompson, Manitoba

City of Thompson
Highland Tower, chosen for the Spirit Way wolf mural, is the most prominent building on Thompson's skyline
Highland Tower, chosen for the Spirit Way wolf mural, is the most prominent building on Thompson's skyline
Nickname(s): "Hub of the North" or "Hub City, "The Centennial City", "Nickel City"[1][2][3]
Thompson is located in Manitoba
Location in Manitoba
Country Canada
Province Manitoba
Region Northern Region
Census division 22
Established 1956
Incorporated 1967 Town
  1970 City
 • City Mayor Dennis Fenske
 • Governing Body Thompson City Council
 • MLA (Thompson) Steve Ashton (NDP)
 • MP (Churchill) Niki Ashton (NDP)
 • Total 17.18 km2 (6.63 sq mi)
 • Census Agglomeration 3,481.24 km2 (1,344.11 sq mi)
Population (2011 Census)
 • Total 13,123 (5th)
 • Density 782.8/km2 (2,027/sq mi)
 • Census Agglomeration 13,123
 • Census Agglomeration density 3.7/km2 (10/sq mi)
Time zone CST (UTC−6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC−5)
Postal code R8N
Area code(s) 204
Demonym Thompsonnite
Highways PTH 6
Website .ca.thompsonwww

Thompson is a city in northern Manitoba. As the "Hub of the North" it serves as the regional trade and service centre of northern Manitoba. Thompson is located 830 km (520 mi) north of the Canada–United States border, 739 km (459 mi) north of the provincial capital of Winnipeg, and is 396 km (246 mi) northeast of Flin Flon. It has a population of 13,123 residents.


  • History 1
  • Public safety 2
  • Economy 3
    • Mining 3.1
    • Transportation 3.2
    • Cold weather testing 3.3
    • Global Aerospace Centre for Icing and Environmental Research (GLACIER) 3.4
    • Other 3.5
  • Climate 4
  • Education 5
  • Attractions 6
    • Spirit Way 6.1
    • Natural attractions 6.2
    • King Miner 6.3
  • Sports 7
  • Government 8
    • Circuit Court 8.1
    • Bylaws 8.2
  • Demographics 9
    • Ethnic groups 9.1
  • Media 10
    • Newspaper 10.1
    • References in music 10.2
    • Radio 10.3
    • Television 10.4
  • References 11
  • External links 12


The Thompson area was first inhabited by nomadic Paleo-Indian hunters 6000 BC. Europeans conducted a federal geological survey in Thompson in 1896.

The modern history of Thompson began in 1956 when on February 4, a major ore body was discovered by use of an airborne electromagnetometer following ten years of mining exploration in the region. The community was founded in 1957 following an agreement with the Government of Manitoba and Inco Limited. Thompson is planned community and is named after Inco's chairman, John F. Thompson. The population has been estimated as high as 26,000 residents prior to the recession in the 1970s.[4] The 1957 agreement required that Inco provide financial assistance towards the Kelsey Generating System, and a spur line to connect the community with CN's Bay Line near Thicket Portage. Thompson was incorporated as a town in 1967 on Canada's Centennial Anniversary, and in 1970 as a city in the royal presence of Queen Elizabeth II, having reached a population of 20,000.

Thompson came to be known as "The Hub of the North", as it functions as a centre for politics and commerce in the region. However a decline in population occurred during the following decades, levelling off around 13,000 people.[5]

Public safety

The City of Thompson's 2010–2014 Strategic Plan identifies Public Safety as a core strategy. The Strategic Plan commits "to ensure that all residents and visitors feel safe, we will allocate appropriate resources for protective services; an improved physical environment; and promote partnerships with various organizations to address root causes affecting public safety".[6]

As a result, the City of Thompson has formed the Public Safety Standing Committee that is responsible for providing recommendations on initiatives and plans to enhance the safety of residents. In recent years the Public Safety Standing Committee has spearheaded an annual Downtown Strategy that promotes a clean, safe and active downtown area by working in partnership with a number of community organizations.[7]

Since 2010 the City of Thompson has developed a series of Action Plans addressing a number of priority areas through the Thompson Economic Diversification Working Group (TEDWG), including Restorative Justice. The Action Plan includes the construction of a northern Restorative Justice facility, the City of Thompson continues to advocate for this project with Manitoba Justice.[8]

Despite these efforts, Thompson has repeatedly ranked as one of Canada's most violent cities[9] and is referred to as the Crime Capital of Canada by many media outlets including the Winnipeg Free Press.[10]



Looking north

Its most prominent local industry is the mining, milling, smelting and refining of nickel, with additional nickel concentrates coming from Voisey's Bay, Labrador.

Aside from Vale Ltd; Manitoba Hydro, Calm Air, MTS and the provincial government employ the majority of the people in Thompson.

Many federal and provincial government agencies have offices in Thompson. Thompson has a large retail sector, providing such things as clothing for all ages, a pet store, jewelry stores, travel agencies, vehicle dealerships, and grocery stores. Calm Air Airlines and Perimeter Aviation provide direct service between Winnipeg and Thompson. There has been intermittent jet service to Thompson, with the runway at the Thompson Airport able to accommodate a Boeing 737.


A Noorduyn Norseman attached to a display stand. Bush planes provide short-haul transport to the many lakes in the region.

Thompson Transit is the public transit service operated for the city by Greyhound Canada. VIA Rail provides passenger service at the Thompson railway station which is on the Hudson Bay Railway.

The city is served by Thompson Airport.

Calm Air has its headquarters in the city.[11]

Cold weather testing

In April 2009, the National Research Council of Canada announced that they will be partnering with the newly created EnviroTREC (Canadian Environmental Test, Research and Education Centre) to create a year round research facility which will specialize in testing aerospace designs in cold conditions.[12]

Global Aerospace Centre for Icing and Environmental Research (GLACIER)

On April 16, 2009 in Thompson by then Premier of Manitoba Gary Doer announced an estimated $44 million first phase and a future second phase estimated at $38M project by Rolls-Royce Canada and Pratt & Whitney Canada. On October 30, 2010, held the official opening of the project.[13][14]


New businesses are being established, and employment opportunities remain plentiful. While the historical economic growth of Thompson has been rooted in mining, Thompson is now considered to be the regional centre for health, education, government, transportation and retail services in northern Manitoba. Continual investments from public sector have established Thompson as a regional center. Thompson has experienced an economic boom in recent years. Since 2005, several major investments, new developments and businesses have been attracted, to the community. As well, several positive announcements have been made that bode well for the city's future economic growth. The University College of the North new campus will be completed in February 2014 and student family housing was completed in 2013. The final phase of the Thompson Regional Community Centre was completed in May 2012. An official Grand Opening was held on September 8, 2012.


Thompson is marked by a subarctic climate (Köppen Dfc), with long, bitterly cold winters, and short but warm summers. Monthly means range from −23.9 °C (−11.0 °F) in January to 16.2 °C (61.2 °F) in July, and the annual mean is −2.9 °C (26.8 °F).[15] Though a majority of the annual precipitation of 509 millimetres (20.0 in) falls from June to September,[15] winter is by no means devoid of precipitation. Snow falls mainly from October to May, with generally small accumulation in June and September, totaling 187 centimetres (74 in) per year.[15]

Climate data for Thompson Airport, Manitoba (1981−2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 8.1
Average high °C (°F) −18.3
Daily mean °C (°F) −23.9
Average low °C (°F) −29.3
Record low °C (°F) −48.9
Average precipitation mm (inches) 19.5
Average rainfall mm (inches) 0.1
Average snowfall cm (inches) 22.7
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 12.2 11.1 9.6 8.0 11.0 11.6 14.0 13.7 14.4 12.3 13.3 13.0 144.3
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm) 0.26 0.38 1.0 3.0 9.0 11.6 14.0 13.7 13.8 6.5 1.2 0.48 74.9
Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm) 12.4 11.2 9.4 6.1 3.3 0.56 0.0 0.0 1.1 7.7 13.0 12.9 77.7
Mean monthly sunshine hours 96.6 120.6 172.3 224.9 258.6 268.8 278.4 253.3 144.2 92.5 63.5 66.6 2,040.3
Percent possible sunshine 40.4 44.7 47.1 53.0 51.3 51.4 53.1 54.3 37.6 28.5 25.4 30.2 43.1
Source: Environment Canada[15]


The School District of Mystery Lake operates six Elementary Schools and one High School:
Deerwood School, Burntwood School, Westwood School, École Riverside School, Juniper School, Easthood and R. D. Parker Collegiate (formerly known as Thompson High School). Both École Riverside School and R.D. Parker Collegiate celebrated their 50th anniversaries in September 2012.

The district offers a K–12 French immersion program. Grades K-8 at École Riverside School, and grades 9-12 at RD Parker Collegiate. The district also offers a K-8 language education program in the Cree language. The Cree immersion program begins at Easthood Elementary School. Students can continue the French program at the high school if they completed K–8 at Riverside, and there are basic Cree courses in grades 9–12 offered as well. R.D. Parker Collegiate also offers grade 10 and 11 courses in Native Studies and a grade 12 Native Law course. Full Cree-medium education does not, however, extend to the high school yet.

Since September 2009, the Franco-Manitoban School Division (DSFM) has expanded within Manitoba to include one K-8 elementary school in Thompson, École Communautaire La Voie du Nord. Located within Burntwood School, this district allows children receive instruction in French with peers in a Francophone culture.

Although there is some demand for a private school, Thompson is not home to any at this time.

Thompson is home to one of the two main campuses of the University College of the North, as well as the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Social Work branch in the region.


Shopping and services Thompson is the shopping and service Hub of the North. It is home to numerous types of store and services including: car and recreational vehicle dealerships, furniture stores, jewelry stores, fitness facilities, an art gallery, a day spa, several national clothing stores, hardware, building supplies, and grocery chains in addition to a variety of local merchants. Shopping centers in Thompson:

  • City Center Mall
  • Plaza Shopping Center
  • Westwood Mall
  • Burntwood Plaza
  • Southwood Mall

Restaurants There are over 30 restaurants in Thompson offering a variety of cuisine ranging from national franchise to local restaurants. Visit to view listing.

The T.I. Thompson's most famous hot spot is the Thompson Inn's bar also known as the T.I., this bar has some of the best live Entertainment that can be found anywhere in the world, with one of the most diverse collections of beer that can be found anywhere in Manitoba, aswell as the locally famous "BULL". This landmark comes highly recommended to anyone visiting Thompson.

Accommodations Thompson has a wide range of accommodations available: hotel and motels. In total, there are over 650 guest rooms available within the city. Camping facilities are located nearby at both McCreedy Campground and Paint Lake Provincial Park.

Spirit Way

Several Spirit Way wolves, downtown Thompson

In 2008, Thompson debuted the Spirit Way, a two-kilometre (1.25 mi) walking and biking pathway with 16 points of interest that highlight Thompson's art, heritage, culture, industry, geology, and scenery; two more points are planned. The pathway includes a large wolf mural painted by Charles Johnston, and is a reproduction of Robert Bateman's painting "Wolf Sketch" (1990). The 26-by-19-metre (86 by 62 ft) image is the largest photo-real mural in Canada, and sits on 10 storey Highland Tower apartment block. The building was chosen as it is the most prominent building on Thompson's skyline.[16] The project also includes the Spirit Way wolves, wolf statues painted by various sponsors and placed throughout the walk.

Natural attractions

Pisew Falls Provincial Park, located an hour's drive south of the city

Located 42 kilometres (26 mi) south of Paint Lake is Pisew Falls Provincial Park. There is a 0.5 km (0.31 mi) trail that leads to a viewing platform for taking pictures of the 13-metre-high (43 ft), year-round falls. There is also a suspension bridge that spans the lower falls. This is the starting point of a 11 km (6.8 mi) hike that leads to the highest waterfalls in Manitoba – Kwasitchewan Falls. This trail is a difficult back-country trail, recommended for experienced hikers only.[17]

Located 32 km (20 mi) south of Thompson on Highway 6 is Paint Lake Provincial Park. The park spans over 23,000 hectares (56,000 acres) of Precambrian boreal forest and the lake itself is 8 km (5 mi) wide and 40 km (25 mi) long.[18] With its numerous islands, enticing waters and rugged forests, Paint Lake offers 76 campsites and has the largest marina in Manitoba. The marina offers fishing guides, cabin, boat and canoe rentals, a restaurant and convenience store. Some features of the park include boat launches, beaches, playgrounds, a volleyball court, baseball diamond and fitness trail. In the winter there are groomed snowmobile trails, ice skating, toboggan runs, ice fishing and ice fishing derbies.[19]

King Miner

The King Miner statue was erected to honour the men and women who work in the mining industry. The statue is on the site of the annual Nickel Days Festival and King Miner contest.

King Miner Statue in Thompson, Manitoba

King Miner Monument was rededicated at the Mystery Lake Road, Thompson site in the City of Thompson on 18 June 2010.


Thompson is home to the Norman Northstars hockey team. Thompson's minor hockey teams are known as the King Miners.

Jennifer Saunders, the current Canadian Women's Racquetball Champion, was born and grew up in Thompson, graduating from R.D. Parker Collegiate in 1994.

The high school teams are called the RD Parker Collegiate Trojans. The Trojans' rivals are the Hapnot Kopper Kings from Flin Flon and the MBCI Spartans from The Pas.

Every year in April, students from the six elementary schools in grades 3-8 compete in the Knights of Columbus Track Meet. Juniper School dominated KoC in the 1990s, and Westwood School has had a winning streak during the 2000s (decade).

Thompson has a large 6-sheet curling rink called the Burntwood Curling Club. The BCC has hosted several zone and provincial competitions.

Thompson also is the birthplace of two NHL players, Curtis Leschyshyn and Jody Shelley.


City Hall

Circuit Court

Thompson is unique in being the judicial centre for a huge geographic area - ranging from Norway House in the South to Churchill in the North. The Thompson Judicial district covers 15 circuits and offers both Judicial Justice of the Peace Court as well as Provincial Court sittings. Judges, Judicial Justices of the Peace, Clerks, Crown Attorneys and defence lawyers based in Thompson and Winnipeg regularly travel by small plane on circuit court to various remote communities and First Nation Communities to hold Provincial court.

Thompson's status as Canada's most violent city as well as a high rate of property related offences and public nuisances such as drinking in public keep the local courts very busy.[20] In its annual report The Provincial Court of Manitoba noted that "The Thompson Centre of the court and its circuit court points are regularly faced with large caseloads and it is growing more and more difficult to process these cases in a timely manner. Added to that is the ongoing challenge of attracting and retaining people to work in the justice system in Northern Manitoba."[21]


The City of Thompson by-laws are available at


According to the 2011 National Household Survey,[22] the population of Thompson is 12,730. The population density was 746.9 per km². The racial make up of Thompson is mostly made up of Aboriginals (35.2%); First Nations (24.9%) and Metis (10.1%), and European (57.9%). There is also a moderate visible minority population (7.0%); South Asian (3.5%) and Black (1.3%) were the two largest minority groups. The religious make up of Thompson is; Christian (59.3%), non-religious (35.0%), Hindu (2.4%) and the remaining 3.3% fall into another religion. Most of the residents are Canadian citizens (95.9%). About 15.9% of the population can speak a language that is not recognized as an official language of Canada. Aboriginal languages are the most common spoken non-official languages (7.2%); Cree (6.5%) and Dene (0.7%), but others include Punjabi (1.7%), Hindi (1.2%) and German (0.9%)

The median age in Thompson is 30.6 years old. Age groups are as followed; 9 and younger (16.7%), 10 to 19 (16.0%), in their 20's (16.4%), in their 30's (14.8%), in their 40's (16.3%), 50 to 64 (15.2%), and 65+ (4.6%).

For the peoples ages 24 to 65, the highest levels of education as follows; post-secondary educated (49.8%), high school educated (27.1%) and nothing beyond high school (23.3%). The unemployment rate in Thompson is 5.5%.

Regarding martial status, for those who are 15 and older it goes as follows; married or living with common-law partner (58.3%), never been married (32.1%), divorced or separated (7.2%), or widowed (2.5%).

Rental Vacancy Rates (%)
Date Current Six Month
% Change
One Year
% Change
Spring 2010 0.3% +0.2% +0.3%
Fall 2009 0.1% -0.1% +0.1%
Spring 2009 0.2% +0.2% 0.0%
Fall 2008 0.0% -0.2% -2.4%
Spring 2008 0.2% -2.2% -5.2%
Fall 2007 2.4% -3.3% n/a
Spring 2007 5.7% n/a n/a
Source: CMHC - Manitoba Rental Market Reports

Ethnic groups

Visible minority and Aboriginal population[23]
Population group Population (2011) % of total population (2011)
European 7,365 57.9%
Visible minority group South Asian 440 3.5%
Chinese 25 0.2%
Black 170 1.3%
Filipino 110 0.9%
Latin American 20 0.2%
Arab 40 0.3%
Southeast Asian 35 0.3%
West Asian 0 0%
Korean 10 0.1%
Japanese 15 0.1%
Visible minority, n.i.e. 0 0%
Multiple visible minorities 0 0%
Total visible minority population 890 7%
Aboriginal group First Nations 3,165 24.9%
Métis 1280 10.1%
Inuit 0 0%
Aboriginal, n.i.e. 10 0.1%
Multiple Aboriginal identities 0 0%
Total Aboriginal population 4,475 35.2%
Total population 12,730 100%



The local newspaper, the Thompson Citizen, is published on Wednesdays. A free newspaper produced by the same company, the Nickel Belt News, is distributed on Fridays to a wider area than the Citizen, encompassing other communities such as Churchill, Snow Lake, Norway House, Nelson House, Cross Lake, Lynn Lake, and Split Lake. Recently, the Citizen has also become a free publication.

References in music

  • The city was used in the Tragically Hip song "Thompson Girl". The song is set both in and north of Thompson, and is about the title character, a Thompson girl.
  • "Thompson" is a song by Les Surveillantes, found on their album titled "La racine carrée du coeur".



Shaw Communications is the local cable television provider serving Thompson, and operates the local Shaw TV channel on cable channel 11.


  1. ^ "Sunday and holiday shopping hours extended". City of Thompson. 2012-11-05. 
  2. ^ John Barker (2012-11-05). "Thompson takes a big tumble: Drops to fifth-largest city in Manitoba". Thompson Citizen (Glacier Community Media). 
  3. ^ John Barker (2012-11-05). "City of Thompson flag flying in Kandahar".  
  4. ^ Browne, Ray Broadus (June 15, 1994). The cultures of celebrations. Michael T. Marsden. Popular Press. p. 159.  
  5. ^ Graham, Ian (September 21, 2011). "Mayor’s meeting with justice minister productive". Retrieved 2012-08-08. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Home page. Calm Air. February 11, 2005. Retrieved on January 3, 2012. "90 Thompson Drive Thompson, Manitoba, Canada R8N 1Y8"
  12. ^ Government Investment Supports Development of World Class Cold Weather Testing Centre in Northern Manitoba
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ a b c d "Thompson A, Manitboa". Canadian Climate Normals 1981–2010.  
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ Barker, John (July 25, 2012). "Thompson Remains Canada's Most Violent Crime City". The Thompson Citizen. p. 1. Retrieved July 25, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Annual Report of the Provincial COurt of Manitoba" (PDF). The Provincial Court of Manitoba. 2007–2008. p. 8. Retrieved July 25, 2012. 
  22. ^
  23. ^

External links

  • City of Thompson
  • Shaw TV Thompson
  • Map of Thompson at Statcan

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