Sep 282014
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Winnie-the-Pooh gallery


A gallery in a Winnipeg park dedicated to Winnie-the-Pooh

On the second floor of the Pavilion at Winnipeg, Manitoba’s Assiniboine Park you’ll find The Pooh Gallery. How did a gallery dedicated to the beloved Winnie-The-Pooh, the central character in A.A. Milne’s children’s book series, wind up in Winnipeg, Manitoba? A bit of history about the inspiration for Winnie-The-Pooh explains that.

Winnie-the-Pooh pop-up books

A.A. Milne and his son, Christopher Robin, were frequent visitors at the London Zoo. One of the attractions at the time was a black bear named Winnie. Christopher added Pooh to the name. He renamed his teddy bear from Edward to Winnie-The-Pooh. A.A. Milne began to write stories based on the bear.

Christopher Robin and his teddy bear

Christopher Robin Milne and his teddy bear.
Photo taken by Marcus Adams in 1928 and printed in England to support the National Portrait Gallery.


Lt Colebourn

Winnie came to London Zoo from Canada. Lieutenant Harry Colebourn had purchased an orphaned black bear cub from a trapper in White River, Ontario. He named the bear after his home town of Winnipeg. When Lieutenant Colebourn’s regiment shipped to England, Winnie went too. In 1914, the Lieutenant received news he would be sent to France. He made arrangements for the London Zoo to keep Winnie while he away and Winnie was officially donated to the zoo in 1918. Winnie was relatively tame and allowed closer contact with people than other bears at the zoo. She gave children rides on her back and ate out of their hands.

A wall of Winnie The Pooh illustrations

A wall of Winnie The Pooh illustrations

Ernest H Shepard was the illustrator for the Winnie-The-Pooh books.

Winnie the Pooh preparatory drawings

Copies of the original preparatory drawings for the Winnie-The-Pooh books


Winnie the Pooh floatingly

Painted on the wall in the reading room


Pooh stuffed toys


Pooh and Colebourn statue

Winnie-The-Bear statue at one end of the Nature Playground at Assiniboine Park

The Pooh Gallery is small, just two rooms, but a treat for Winnie-The-Pooh fans. Admission is free.

To close, here are a few quotes from A.A. Milne’s Winnie-The-Pooh.

When you go after honey with a balloon, the great thing is not to let the bees know you’re coming.

A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey left inside.

Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.

You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.


Winnie-the-Pooh The End

 PIN ITPooh Gallery at Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg, Manitoba, home of Winnie-the-Pooh. #Winnipeg #Manitoba #Canada #Winnie-the-Pooh

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  28 Responses to “The Pooh Gallery”

  1. I had no idea that Winnie the Pooh was ever a real bear. Now that I know the stories a re even more sweet. Thanks for the lines at the end. They made a rough day not so rough. I do have a question though. When Winnie was on loan to the zoo and Colebourne was sent to France; did he not return?

    • Colebourne did return. He visited the bear in the London Zoo whenever he was on leave. And in 1918, when the war was over and he returned to Canada, he decided not to take the bear with him because he saw how popular she was with the adults and children visiting the zoo.

  2. Fantastic background information I was totally oblivious of! My older sister used to read Pooh books to me when I was a kid and I loved all of the cartoons. Lots of great lessons I’ve learned from those stories 🙂

  3. So Winnie the Pooh was named after Winnipeg? Who knew? Thanks for the interesting history.

  4. Donna, this was just so interesting, I had no idea. Of course I read Winnie the Pooh to the kids when they were little. I wish I had know this information then. I think it would have made things even more interesting for the boys and myself. The statue of Winnie the Pooh and, I assume, Colebourne is endearing. Thanks for this bit of background. It’s still not to late to share with our grandchildren.

  5. Oh my goodness where have I been? I never knew that Winnie was ever a real bear! And I’m not sure why, but they were never a prt of my repertoire as a child or even with my nephew and great nephews? Hmmmmm…but I love those quotes and most especially these 2 :
    Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.

    How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.

    This was such a lovely post Donna. I’m going to have to come see this museum. All of your posts have me longing to come to Canada

  6. Such an interesting article. I wish I’d known about the origin of Winnie back when I was reading it to children. The museum sounds like a magical place.

  7. Hi Donna. This was such an interesting post! I used to read Winnie the Pooh as a kid, but I had no clue there was so much to the backstory. Loved the picture of the Nature Playground at Assiniboine Park. The museum must be a great attraction.

  8. I love Winnie The Pooh and would love to visit the museum. I did know Winnie the Pooh was based on a real bear and a Canadian connection. But I didn’t know there was an actual museum. I loved reading the stories of Pooh and Tigger and all their adventures in the 100 ACRE woods. Lately there have been some books on the Tao of Pooh which I’ve noticed have been very popular. And really couldn’t we all use a little more Winnie The Pooh in our life?

  9. Thanks so much for this. It’s always great reading and being reminded of Pooh. I’ve been to Assiniboine Park many times, but I’ve never heard of The Pooh Gallery. What a great tip!

  10. I grew up near Canada and heard this story on CBC network, they use to have a history minute around 5 pm. That is a wonderful story about Winnie the Pooh, and the park. One darker not, read the entire story where the “Teddy” bear got his name from.

  11. Oh My Goodness, that is way to cool. I have always been a Winnie The Pooh Fan, it’s the kid in me. I would love to have seen this, regardless, thanks for sharing it with another big fan.

  12. Oh I just came to know that Winnie The Pooh was real. May daughter is a big fan. I love the pictures and when I see your post in thread of BHB, I get excited to see some lovely photos.
    I love A.A. Milne this quote ” A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey left inside. ” It is great to know that admission in Pooh gallery is free of cost.

  13. Ahhh, thanks Donna. I didn’t really know the history of Pooh although I read the books as a child and read them to my children too. Thanks for the background information – very interesting.

  14. Oh boy, that was fun reading about the history of Winnie the Pooh. I worked at a zoo with a bear and couldn’t imagine children having rides on its back. That’s pretty amazing.

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