I’m not sure when they first put up those green “longitudinal centre of Canada” signs on the Trans-Canada Highway, but I’ve been driving by those signs my whole life. Recently, however, things got a little more glitzy at that spot. Yup, the “longitudinal centre of Canada” has become a tourist destination.
If you’re travelling from East to West along Highway 1, you’ll enter Manitoba from Ontario driving through beautiful forested Canadian Shield before suddenly encountering our flat Prairie farmland. It’s quite the dramatic change and somewhere between the turnoff to Steinbach and the city of Winnipeg you’ll cross from Eastern Canada to Western Canada. Technically speaking, Steinbach is in Eastern Canada and Winnipeg is in the west… barely.
It’s the perfect place for a photo op!
It’s not without some controversy, however. This spot is the longitudinal centre and the only spot that’s actually on the famous Trans-Canada Highway. If you try to find a centre that intersects both longitudinally and latitudinally you’ll have to go somewhere a bit more remote… like Nunavut.
I’ve also always found it a bit strange. I mean, it doesn’t seem like the centre. I always felt like the drive to Vancouver would be a lot shorter, even as a crow flies, than a drive to St. John’s, Newfoundland. If you look at a map, it looks like we’re closer to the Pacific than the Atlantic. But that’s where it gets tricky. This spot is the longitudinal centre of Canada, NOT of the Trans-Canada Highway. And we shouldn’t be comparing to Vancouver, or even Vancouver Island. Look at British Columbia. It juts out pretty far to the west in the northern part of the province. In fact, the western-most point of Canada is way up on the Alaska-Yukon border.
The spelling is also an interesting one. I’ve seen some debate on this. There’s no controversy when talking about a gathering place, say the MTS Centre. In Canada, like in the UK, that is always spelled “centre.” There is some inconsistency, though, when talking about the middle of two points. Sometimes Canadians spell it “centre” and other times “center” like our friends south of the border (or is it “bordre”? Ha). I suspect that spelling it “centre” on government signs avoids the need to have cumbersome “Centre/Center of/du Canada” that you see on so many bilingual signs. In this case of/du was sufficient. Anyway, I think the real question is why wasn’t the sign in Plautdietsch?
Nearby, you’ll find some informative signage about the area and a place to picnic.
Right next door, there’s also a small outdoor museum featuring old farm equipment.
Yes, indeed, welcome to the centre/center of Canada!