Winnie the Pooh's hometown of White River, Ont., celebrates the bear

This week marks 100 years since a Canadian soldier discovered what came to be a very famous bear from northwestern Ontario — Winnie, the inspiration for the iconic children’s stories Winnie the Pooh.

Famous bear that inspired the classic children's stories was found in the small Ontario town

The cover art for Winnie the Bear, M.A. Appleby's 2011 biography of the bear cub that inspired the world-famous fictional character. (Dominion Street Publishing)

This week marks 100 years since a Canadian soldier passing through Northwestern Ontario discovered what came to be a very famous bear — the inspiration for the iconic children’s stories Winnie the Pooh.

On Aug. 24, 1914 Lt. Harry Colebourn, a Canadian veterinarian and soldier with the Royal Canadian Army Veterinary Corps, came across the orphaned female bear cub while on a train stop in White River, Ontario. 

As the story goes, the cub's mother had been shot by a hunter, and Colbourn offered $20 for the orphaned bear. He then named her Winnipeg after his hometown.

The name was eventually shortened to Winnie and the cub travelled with Colebourn to England and eventually to the London Zoo where she later inspired A.A. Milne’s classic children’s series.

White River resident Mia Sokoloski said it wasn't until the 1980s that the community learned the full story of Winnie's origins.

“It was very exciting.” She said. “When the town found out about it they were very excited about it, and things started to roll then."

Sokoloski, the author of the childrens book "The Romance of the Captain and Winnie the Bear,” noted that White River now hosts an annual "Winnie's Hometown Festival."

You can listen to Sokoloski talk about the famous White River bear on CBC's Superior Morning by clicking the icon above. 

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