Artifacts from the family of the Manitoba veterinarian who took a cub named Winnie to the London Zoo will go on display in Winnipeg early next year.
Remembering the Real Winnie: The World's Most Famous Bear Turns 100 will open at the Assiniboine Park Pavilion Gallery Museum early next summer.
Winnipeg will be the first stop for a touring exhibit that organizers plan to take across the globe.
The exhibit includes historic artifacts from the family of Harry Colebourn, the Canadian soldier and veterinarian who purchased a bear in 1914 that he later named Winnie. Winnie the Pooh, the character made famous by the books written by A. A. Milne, grew out of Milne's sons visits with Winnie at the London Zoo.
Pictures, diary entries and veterinary tools donated by the Colebourn family will be displayed, as well as a digital and interactive component. The exhibit is a historical look at the lives of a bear named Winnie and the soldier who named the bear and took her across the ocean with him.
Colebourn purchased a black bear cub before going off to the First World War. He named the bear Winnie after his hometown, Winnipeg. Colebourn and the bear made their way to London, where Colebourn eventually decided to donate the bear to the London Zoo. Winnie became a fan favourite and was visited by Milne and his son, Christopher Robin Milne.
The first official tour stop was an obvious choice for the curators.
"Winnipeg is of course logically the first city that is going to take advantage of this," said Doina Popescu, founding director of the Ryerson Image Centre, which created the exhibit.
Using journal entries and photographs, the exhibit blends the history of a soldier in the First World War with the softer story of the bear.
"So on the one hand, you have that close-up co-experience of what a soldier in the war goes through, and on the other, you have this heartwarming, pacifist story of the bear," said Popescu.
The announcement Monday included author Linsay Mattick, Colebourn's great-granddaughter.
Mattick just released Finding Winnie, a children's book about the famous bear that includes photographs and journal entries from her family's archive. Many of the artifacts in the book are in the exhibit.
The children's book includes the backstory of the Winnie the Pooh books.
"Harry bought Winnie, he loved her, but he realized it wasn't safe to take a little bear cub to the First World War, to the front lines. And at that point he had to give Winnie another story. And that story was taking her to the London Zoo, [where] she met A.A. Milne and Christopher Robin and she found her own new adventure," Mattick said.
The exhibit was developed by Ryerson University's Research Image Centre and Modern Literature and Cultural Research Centre.
The Assiniboine Park Conservancy Gallery is also home to a permanent Winnie the Pooh display.