Monday, August 30, 2010
I almost forgot to mention the connection between everyone's very favourite bear, Winnie the Pooh, and Winnipeg!
Winnie the Pooh, immortalized in the delightful series of books by A.A. Milne, was modeled after a real black bear in the London Zoo.
In 1914, while en route to England during the First World War, Colonel Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian with the Fort Garry Horse Militia purchased an orphaned black bear cub for $20.00 from a trapper in White River, Ontario. Winnie, the little black bear, became the regiment mascot and when the Fort Garry Horse were shipped out, Winnie was surreptitiously brought along. Winnie, by the way, was named after the Colonel's hometown of Winnipeg.
Winnie was left at the London Zoo while Colonel Colbourn and his unit were in France and he was eventually gifted to the Zoo, where he captured the hearts of many children, including that of Christopher Robin, A.A. Milne's son.
The only known oil painting of Winnie the Pooh by Ernest H. Shepard, the original illustrator for the books, is now hanging in a gallery in Winnipeg. The painting was originally commissioned for a tea shop in Bristol England, called Pooh Corner, and remained there for 10 years. In 2000, the painting was offered for sale at auction in London and a group of citizens spearheaded the effort to acquire the painting and move it to Winnipeg. The support included donations from private citizens, corporations and all three levels of government and was the campaign was a success.
The painting is ours, and Winnie is home again!