Gretna, Manitoba Canada

Discover Gretna, Manitoba: A Historical and Cultural Gem

Gretna, Manitoba, is a charming unincorporated urban community nestled in the Municipality of Rhineland. Located just north of the Canada - United States border on PTH 30, Gretna is a community rich in history and culture. With a population of 541 in 2016, it is bordered by Pembina County, North Dakota, and the nearest American community is Neche, North Dakota.

The Rich History of Gretna, Manitoba

The area around Gretna, Manitoba, was once home to roaming Buffalo herds and attracted European settlers as early as the 19th century. Originally known as "Smuggler's Point," Gretna was a simple border crossing where undeclared goods were smuggled over the border by early settlers and fur trappers.

After the establishment of the 49th parallel as the international border, Gretna became an important customs centre and border community for both the Canadian and American governments. Its strategic geographic location caught the interest of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which led to the creation of large grain elevator operations in the area.

One of the first and most prominent private companies in Gretna was the Ogilvie Milling Company, founded by William Ogilvie, originally from Scotland. It is believed that Ogilvie named Gretna after Gretna Green in Scotland, a border community known for its blacksmith who married runaway couples at his anvil.

In 1889, the Mennonite Collegiate Institute, a private high school, opened in Gretna. The community was visited by Russian prince and anarchist Peter Kropotkin in 1897, who praised the local Mennonites for their industriousness and communal lifestyle.

Gretna, Manitoba: A Community of Change and Resilience

Gretna, Manitoba, thrived as a border community in the early 20th century, filled with promise and opportunity. However, changes in the grain milling industry led to a decline in the community's prosperity. After World War II, Gretna became the centre for oil transfer to the United States of America, with Enbridge Pipelines Inc. playing a significant role in southern Manitoba's oil storage and transfer.

In 2013, the Provincial NDP Government legislated that Manitoba communities with a population under 1000 must amalgamate with their nearest neighbouring municipality by 2015. As a result, Gretna lost its local government, and governmental control was passed to the RM of Rhineland, now the Municipality of Rhineland.

Despite these changes, Gretna's history reveals a resilient rural community that continues to attract young families looking for a comfortable mix between rural and urban living. On June 4, 2021, Gretna reached a temperature of 41.3 °C (106.3 °F), the highest recorded temperature in Manitoba since the 1980s and the earliest in the year occurrence of above 40 °C (104 °F) temperatures in Canada.

Demographics of Gretna, Manitoba

According to the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Gretna had a population of 511 living in 197 of its 210 total private dwellings, a change of -5.5% from its 2016 population of 541. With a land area of 2.71 km2 (1.05 sq mi), Gretna had a population density of 188.6/km2 (488.4/sq mi) in 2021.