Winnipeg the Bear
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Harry Colebourn and Winnie, 1914
|Species||American Black Bear|
|Born||24 August 1914
|Died||12 May 1934 (aged 19)
London Zoo, London, England
|Known for||Inspiration for Winnie-the-Pooh|
|Named after||the city of Winnipeg|
She was bought as a small cub for $20 (probably from the hunter who had shot her mother) at a stop in White River, Ontario, by Lt. Harry Colebourn of The Fort Garry Horse, a Canadian cavalry regiment, en route to the Western Front during the First World War. The bear was smuggled into Britain as an unofficial regimental mascot. Lt. Colebourn, the regiment’s veterinarian, named her after his home city of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Before leaving for France, Colebourn left Winnie at London Zoo.
Winnipeg's eventual destination was to have been the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, but at the end of the War, Colebourn decided to allow Winnie to remain at the London Zoo, where she was much loved for her playfulness and gentleness. Among her fans was A. A. Milne's son Christopher Robin, who consequently changed the name of his own teddy bear from "Edward Bear" to "Winnie the Pooh", providing the inspiration for his father's stories about Winnie-the-Pooh.
A statue of Winnie and Captain Colebourn stands in Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg, in the park's Nature Playground.
In 1996, Canada Post issued 'Winnie and Lieutenant Colebourn, White River, 1914' designed by Wai Poon with art direction by Anthony Van Bruggen and computer design by Marcelo Caetano. The 45¢ stamps are perforated 12.5 x 13 and were printed by Ashton-Potter Canada Limited.
Winnie the Bear by Winnipeg author M.A. Appleby
A true story, Winnie the Bear is the biography of a Canadian black bear named after the city of Winnipeg and adopted by Lieutenant Harry Colebourn, a kind veterinarian, who was en route overseas at the beginning of World War One. Colebourn nurtured the young cub at training camps in Valcartier, Quebec and on the Salisbury Plains. Appleby takes us through Winnie and Harry's journey and through the story of her research, all the more fascinating for her family's connection to Harry Colebourn. Appleby's insights into the remarkable chain of events in Winnie the Bear's life reveal the bear's truly inspirational role in the creation of A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh books.
"An act of kindness—the adoption of a small bear cub—by a man predisposed to such acts was a catalyst for many remarkable stories. Winnie provided a welcome distraction as a mascot for the Canadian troops. Her personality caught the attention of the British people during a time of conflict and great uncertainty, and her calm temperament led a young boy to her. Winnie's unique characteristics and benevolent manner triggered the imagination of that boy and his father, and helped launch one of the most loved characters in fiction." - Excerpt from Winnie the Bear
- A Bear Named Winnie. TV movie (2004)
- Winnie-the-Pooh makes his literary debut. Interview with Colebourn's son, CBC Digital Archives (1987). Retrieved 12 Nov 2010.