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The First World War, Winnipeg, and Winnie-the-Pooh

July 23, 2014

Buffalo Doug

‘Tis the season for vacationing, and my wife and I just returned from some time in Manitoba, a day’s drive north of us here in Iowa.

While in Winnipeg, we spent much of the day in Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg’s answer to Central Park and Golden Gate Park. We did not see everything, but we enjoyed what we did see.

This bear is featured at one point:

Winnie, Assiniboine Park, 7-18-14

In the building pictured behind (the Pavilion Gallery), we found out why.

In 1914, Winnipeg veterinarian Harry Colebourn purchased an orphaned bear cub and named him Winnie, after Winnipeg. Colebourn was a lieutenant in the Fort Garry Horse Militia, where he practiced his veterinary profession. The unit went to Europe that year–a hundred years ago this year–to fight in the Great War, and Winnie went as the unit’s mascot.

Winnie did not return to Canada, but instead was given to the London Zoo. There…

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