On December 24th, 1925, the London Evening News published a story by author A.A. Milne entitled The Wrong Sort of Bees. The story introduced as its main character a bear by the name of Winnie the Pooh. Unknown to anyone at the time, this short story would launch a series of Pooh stories, launching one of the most successful children’s characters of all time. Even today, over 80 years later Winnie the Pooh continues to grow in popularity.
Winnie the Real Live Bear
Long before author A.A. Milne first created his beloved character, there was a real live bear by the name of Winnie who had already won the hearts of Londoners. This black bear hailed from the wilderness of the Canadian forests, and had been on a long journey before finally coming to the London Zoo where it would first meet a young Christopher Robin Milne.
In summer of 1914 Canada was in mobilization to assist Great Britain in World War I. On one August day a train full of Canadian soldiers pulled into the station in White River, Ontario. One of the soldiers on board was a young Captain by the name of Harold Colebourn. Colebourn was a veterinarian hailing from Winnipeg, Manitoba.
While stopped in White River, Captain Colebourn came across a black bear cub. He purchased the cub for a sum of $20 and brought the animal along with him on the train ride east. The name “Winnipeg” came in homage to his hometown, although the name was quickly shortened to the more familiar “Winnie.”