The most exciting thing about our trip to Winnipeg Canada was learning that Winnie the Pooh was a real bear! While Pinocchio claimed to be a real boy, he was just an animated character. But Winnie the Pooh, who never claimed anything but a love for honey pots and Christopher Robin, was really a real bear from Winnipeg Manitoba.
See what’s happening here — Winni-peg and Winni-pooh?
Assiniboine Park is the city’s premiere park, where you’ll find the zoo, a steam train, a conservatory, a duck pond and plenty of bike trails that become cross country trails in the winter. Among the various gardens is a wonderful children’s garden where stands a life-size bronze statue of a World War I soldier and a little bear.
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The Real Winnie the Pooh
The story goes that in 1914 Lt. Harry Colebourn, a native of Winnipeg and a licensed veterinarian, purchased a little black bear cub from a trapper in Ontario. When his unit was shipping out for Europe and the horrific battles of World War I, Lt. Colebourn received permission to bring the bear along as a unit mascot. Lt. Colebourn named him Winnie as a reminder of their hometown.
After training in England, before they crossed the channel to the turbulence on Europe’s mainland, Lt. Colebourn donated Winnie the bear to the London zoo.
A real boy named Christopher Robin often visited the zoo and especially loved Winnie the bear. Christopher Robin’s father was Alan Alexander Milne, an author and playwright, and the rest is history.
Side note: Lt. Colebourn survived three years in France, caring for the horses that were such a vital part of World War I. He came back to Winnipeg and started a veterinary practice. He was 60 years old when he died in 1947.
Winnie The Pooh Gallery in Winnipeg
Another attraction at Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg is the Pavilion Gallery Museum, which features the works of Manitoban artists. On the second floor is a small gallery dedicated to Winnie the Pooh. Here you’ll find autographed works by A.A. Milne, original illustrations by E.H. Shepard and pictures of the real boy, Christopher Robin.
One display case is dedicated to Christopher Robin’s collection of stuffed toys, including a teddy bear that became the model for the wonderful yellow bear we all know and love today.