Cross Lake

Discover Cross Lake, Manitoba: A Community Rich in History and Culture

Cross Lake is a vibrant community nestled in the Northern Region of the Canadian province of Manitoba. This picturesque locale is situated on the shores of the Nelson River, where the river enters the namesake Cross Lake. The community is connected to PR 373 via the Kichi Sipi Bridge, thanks to the all-weather road, PR 374.

Political Divisions of Cross Lake, Manitoba

Although Cross Lake is one population centre, it is politically divided into four entities:

  1. Cross Lake unincorporated designated place, part of Unorganized Division No. 22 – 20.42 km2 (7.88 sq mi), with a population of 512 people (as of 2021).
  2. Cross Lake 19 Indian reserve of the Cross Lake First Nation (Pimicikamak Cree) – 23.18 km2 (8.95 sq mi), with a population of 1,865 people (as of 2021).
  3. Cross Lake 19A Indian reserve, also part of the Cross Lake First Nation – 6.05 km2 (2.34 sq mi), with a population of 2,045 people (as of 2021).
  4. Cross Lake 19E Indian reserve, also part of the Cross Lake First Nation – 7.32 km2 (2.83 sq mi), with a population of 763 people (as of 2021).

The History of Cross Lake, Manitoba

The history of Cross Lake dates back to 1795 when James Tate established a Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) fur-trade post on the southern end of Cross Lake. Initially named "X" Lake, it was later renamed Apsley House in 1796. However, the post was abandoned in the spring of that year. It was re-established in 1849, only to be closed a year later.

In 1869, a HBC post reopened on the lake. Between 1886 and 1887, the HBC built new facilities on the north side of the lake's narrows. From around 1885 to 1889, this post was also responsible for an outpost at Cross Portage. In 1959, the post became part of the HBC Northern Stores Department. HBC divested this department in 1987 to The North West Company, which still operates a Northern Store at Cross Lake.

In March 2016, First Nation officials in Cross Lake declared a state of emergency due to an epidemic of suicides. The community was traumatized and sought immediate help from the provincial and federal governments.

Geography of Cross Lake, Manitoba

The communities of Cross Lake are situated on the eastern shores of Cross Island and Cross Lake. The lake, which is on the Nelson River north of Lake Winnipeg, is long and narrow, extending 102 km (63 mi) east-northeast. The Nelson enters and leaves on the west side, while the Minago River enters on the west. From the Minago, a portage trail leads to Moose Lake and the Saskatchewan River. On the east side via the Walker River, Walker Lake, and Kapaspwaypanik Lake, the Kapaspwaypanik Portage leads to the Carrot River and Oxford Lake on the Hayes River. Cross Lake is located about 520 kilometres (320 mi) by air north of Winnipeg, and 120 kilometres (75 mi) by air south of Thompson.

Demographics of Cross Lake, Manitoba

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Cross Lake had a population of 521 living in 139 of its 162 total private dwellings, a change of 17.6% from its 2016 population of 443. With a land area of 20.42 km2 (7.88 sq mi), it had a population density of 25.5/km2 (66.1/sq mi) in 2021. The adjoining reserves of Cross Lake 19 (population 1,751 in 2011), Cross Lake 19A (population 1,889 in 2011), and Cross Lake 19E (population 682 in 2011) of the Cross Lake First Nation had a combined population of 7,622 in 2011. Together, these communities formed a population centre of 9,033 in 2017.