His­tory Mys­tery

The tale of how the fa­mous sto­ry­book bear got her name be­gan at an On­tario rail­way sta­tion in Au­gust of 1914. Can you tell which parts of the story are true and which aren’t?

Kayak (Canada) - - CONTENTS -


Lieu­tenant Harry Cole­bourn, a vet from Win­nipeg, was on a train head­ing for a mil­i­tary camp in Val­cartier, Que. The First World War was un­der­way, and Cole­bourn was go­ing to look af­ter horses. When the train stopped in White River, Ont., he saw a man with a seven-month-old fe­male black bear cub. Cole­bourn bought her for $20 (about $475 in mod­ern money).


Cole­bourn named the cub Win­nipeg Bear, soon short­ened to Win­nie. He kept her with him all through his time at Val­cartier. She was so tame the men could play with her, and she be­came the mas­cot for their unit, the 2nd Cana­dian Infantry Brigade. When it was time to board a ship for Eng­land, Win­nie came, too.

Hun­gry as A . . . >>

The ship’s crew thought it was un­lucky to have a bear on board. And in one way, they were right. When a for­get­ful cook’s as­sis­tant for­got to lock the ship’s huge re­frig­er­a­tor, Win­nie broke in and ate every bit of fresh fruit. The passengers had only canned pineap­ple and peaches for the rest of the voy­age if they wanted fruit.

<<Furry Farewell

When it was time for Cole­bourn’s brigade to leave for the bat­tle­fields of France in 1915, he knew Win­nie couldn’t come with them. He took her to the Lon­don Zoo where she would be safe. He as­sured the zookeep­ers she was gen­tle, but (not sur­pris­ingly) they didn’t be­lieve him.

Bear-y Pop­u­lar >>

Win­nie was a hit at the zoo. Be­cause of her time with Cole­bourn and the other men, she was so calm and friendly that vis­i­tors could feed her, usu­ally a mix­ture of corn syrup and con­densed milk. Chil­dren even rode on her back. The au­thor A.A. Milne of­ten came to the zoo with his son, Christo­pher Robin, who loved the bear. He and Win­nie are shown at right.

<<Win­nie and the World

Af­ter the war, Harry Cole­bourn saw how much Win­nie was adored by the fam­i­lies who vis­ited her, so he do­nated the black bear to the zoo for good in 1919. Christo­pher Robin Milne named his favourite teddy bear af­ter Win­nie, and added the name of a friend’s pet swan, Pooh. In 1926, his fa­ther pub­lished the first book of sto­ries that would be­come so well-loved, Win­nie-the-Pooh.

The sec­tion called Hun­gry as A… The sec­tion called Hun­gry as A…

is not true, but ev­ery­thing else is not true, but ev­ery­thing else about Win­nipeg the bear and how about Win­nipeg the bear and how

she be­came Win­nie-the-Pooh is! she be­came Win­nie-the-Pooh is!

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