The name is derived from the French word portage, which means to carry a canoe overland between waterways. In this case the "portage" was between the Assiniboine River and Lake Manitoba, over la prairie.
The city became a major transportation centre due to its proximity to the river, and later, the location of the main lines of the country's national railways passing through the community.
Because the land is very fertile, Portage la Prairie is a major agricultural centre in Manitoba.
Portage la Prairie has the most sunny days during the warm months in Canada. Portage has a humid continental climate with warm summers and cold, dry winters.
- Via Rail, toll-free: , e-mail: http://www.viarail.ca. From Winnipeg, 3 trains a week, 1hr 10min-1hr 34min. $30-90.
- Greyhound Canada, ☎ . From Winnipeg, 3 times a day, 1hr 5min, $14-40.
Public transportation in Portage la Prairie is pretty scarce. Many people walk, but it is not a very efficient travel method as the town is very spread out and for a large part of the year it is quite cold.
- The world's largest Coca-Cola can. It was constructed from an old water tower and is now located between the local Canadian Tire and Canad Inns hotel on Saskatchewan Avenue West.
- Heritage Square. An outdoor community meeting place (particularly in the summer months) downtown. Surrounding Heritage Square are the Cinema Centre, Portage la Prairie Regional Library, and the William Glesby Centre—a performing arts facility which offers a live theatre & community art gallery.
- Fort la Reine Museum. A heritage museum at the east end of Portage. The original Fort la Reine was built in 1738 by the French explorer Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye and served as his headquarters for 15 years. Today the museum is home to an array of buildings from Portage and the surrounding region, and covers local prairie history from the 18th century (the period of French exploration) to the present day. There are 25 buildings open to the public, each containing hundreds of artifacts, on display. Some of the highlights of the museum are a railway caboose and the 1882 official rail car of Sir William Cornelius Van Horne, builder of the Canadian Pacific Railway; a fully restored Ukrainian Pioneer Church; a number of houses that are more than 100 years old; a replica of Fort la Reine; a firehall with a fully restored 1931 Seagrave Fire Truck; the Old Officers Mess from the now retired Canadian Forces Base in Southport; and a school house and church built in the 1880s from West Prospect (a pioneer farming community that no longer exists).
- The Manitoba Softball Hall of Fame/Museum. Dedicated to the history of softball in Manitoba, it has memorabilia from the 1930s to the present. It is housed in the Fort la Reine Museum in a former barracks.
- Portage la Prairie's City Hall. A limestone structure that was designed by Thomas Fuller, who also designed the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. It was opened in 1898 as a Dominion Post Office and became City Hall in 1960. The building was declared a historical site in 1986. On the roof is a bell which tolls for a few seconds daily at 9AM, noon, 3PM, 6PM and 9PM.
- Other heritage buildings. St. Mary's la Prairie Anglican Church, built in 1854, is located near the downtown. Saskatchewan Avenue (the city's main thoroughfare) contains many historical buildings, as do Tupper Street and Royal Road (named after the Royal Visit of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and King George VI in 1939). Crescent Road, which follows Crescent Lake for over 5 km, is lined with many large, grand heritage homes dating back to the late 19th century and early 20th century.
- Manitoba Hydro Power Smart Island of Lights. running from November through January,
- Community Walkway. Along parallels Crescent Lake is a 5.2-km (3.2-mi), multi-use trail used for walking, bicycling, skateboarding and rollerblading, running past many grand heritage homes and the tranquil, picturesque sites along the lake.
- Hot Blizzard Folk Festival in February
- Portage Exhibition & Fair ("PortageX") held every July
- Portage Potato Festival which takes place in August
- Whoop & Hollar Folk Festival in September
- Watch the trains go by. The Canadian Pacific and Canadian National Railways intersect in Portage; one of the few places in Canada where the two railways meet. This has made Portage la Prairie one of the most ideal places for railway aficionados to view trains; approximately 72 trains pass through the city each day.
- Pick strawberries and Saskatoon berries. There are many pick-your-own strawberry and Saskatoon berry (service berry or June berry) farms within a 15-minute drive by car. June is the best month to go.
- Farmers' market. In the Portage Credit Union Centre.
- Over The Coals, 232 Saskatchewan Ave E, ☎ . Tu-F 11AM-10PM, Sa 4PM-10PM. Mediterranean, Greek, Canadian. Wraps $6.25-7.25, mains $12-18.
- Lita's Station, 904 Saskatchewan Ave E, ☎ . 7AM-2PM. Family-run railway-themed diner. Wraps with French fries $10, burgers $7-12, sandwiches $6-10, dinners $13-16.
- Red Onion, 190 River Rd, ☎ . Tu-Su 11AM-9PM. Indian, vegetarian-friendly. Dishes $11-16.
- Canad Inns Portage la Prairie, 2401 Saskatchewan Avenue West, ☎ . This hotel includes the rink of the Portage Curling Club, Aalto's Garden Cafe, a pub known as Tavern United, and many banquet halls. Rooms from $125.
- Hi-way Motel, 2010 Saskatchewan Avenue West, ☎ . One- and two-bed guest rooms. Some rooms have fireplaces. $90-100, fireplace suites are $160.
- 1 Prairie Blessings Bed & Breakfast, 10 Campbell Weir Ave, High Bluff (A few minutes drive northeast of town. The B&B is in a former church.), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-out: 10AM. Only three rooms. Includes a magnificent breakfast. You will have to navigate stairs to/from the basement. $65-75, no tax.
- The community of Southport, about 5 km (3.1 mi) south of Portage la Prairie, is home to a small recreation complex featuring a gymnasium and 5-pin bowling alley, and displays military/air force history throughout the town and airport. It celebrates Canadian Forces Day in early June.
|Routes through Portage la Prairie|
|Edmonton ← Saskatoon ←||W E||→ Winnipeg → Toronto|
|Regina ← Brandon ←||W E||→ Winnipeg → Thunder Bay|
|Saskatoon ← Yorkton ←||W E||→ END|