Winnipeg the Bear

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Harry Colebourne and Winnie.jpg
Harry Colebourn and Winnie, 1914
Other appellation(s) Winnie
Species American Black Bear
Sex female
Born 24 August 1914
Ontario, Canada
Died 12 May 1934 (aged 19)
London Zoo, London, England
Known for Inspiration for Winnie-the-Pooh
Owner Harry Colebourn
Named after the city of Winnipeg

Winnipeg, or Winnie, (24 August 1914 – 12 May 1934) was the name given to a female black bear that lived at London Zoo from 1915 until her death in 1934.

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",[1] 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.[2]


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.[3]


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

Film adaptation[edit]

The story of Winnie the bear has been portrayed in the 2004 movie A Bear Named Winnie starring Michael Fassbender as Harry Colebourn.



  1. ^ History of Winnie the Pooh. - Discover the magic world of Pooh. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  2. ^ Statue of Winnie the Bear has new home. Winnipeg Free Press, 9 August 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  3. ^ Canada Post stamp

External links[edit]