"Tales of pioneer hardship and deprivation have been told many times. Yet still we remember in wonder, that people accomplished so much with so little; that men and women with simple tools, their bare hands, and their own inventiveness cleared the land, drained the swamps, made their own clothing and provided their own food. Through all these difficulties God was with them and they wanted their children educated intellectually and spritually." from Norfolk Street United Church history

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Remembering the Real Winnie: The World's Most Famous Bear Turns 100

Ryerson University to host new exhibition to celebrate Canada's connection to Winnie-the-Pooh
TORONTO, Ontario April 17, 2014 /Canada NewsWire/ - Did you know that the world's most famous literary bear - Winnie-the-Pooh - was inspired by a real Canadian bear? This fall, a new exhibition will celebrate the 100th anniversary of this remarkable true story.
At the onset of the First World War, a Canadian soldier and veterinarian named Harry Colebourn made a pit stop at the train station in White River, Ontario where he met a trapper that was selling a bear cub.  An animal lover, the Captain bought the cub for $20, and named her Winnie, after his hometown of Winnipeg. Winnie traveled overseas with Colebourn's regiment, becoming a proud mascot and beloved friend to the other soldiers.  When it became time to go to the front lines in France, Colebourn donated Winnie to the London Zoo in England, where she became the inspiration for author A.A.Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh.
"The story of Harry and Winnie is a love story set against a very dark time in history and is a powerful reminder of the impact that one small loving gesture can have in this world," said Lindsay MattickHarry Colebourn's great granddaughter.  "Winnie has played an important role in many people's childhoods and I am very excited to get to share the historical items that bring to life the real tale behind the fictional ones."
The new exhibition entitled, Remembering the Real Winnie: The World's Most Famous Bear Turns 100 will open to the public at Ryerson University on October 25th, 2014 and run until November 15th, 2014. It will explore the themes of veterinary practice during World War I; military life at camp and at the front; as well as the genesis and popular legacy of Winnie-the-Pooh. The central feature of the exhibition will be Harry's never before displayed wartime diaries which will provide the narrative through-line; they will be displayed at intervals throughout the exhibition in order to carry the viewer from 1914 when Harry leaves for England to 1919 when he donates Winnie to the London Zoo. The exhibition will also feature items from the Colebourn family collection such as Harry's veterinary tools and photographs.
"Literary and Canadian history were forever changed in a moment when Harry Colebourn made his historic purchase," said Ryerson President Sheldon Levy.   "We are thrilled to be exploring the cultural significance of that moment in a way that only Ryerson can - through an innovative approach that allows our various departments to collaborate and bring to this collection to life in a way that is thought provoking and meaningful." 
The exhibition, which will be hosted by the Ryerson School of Image Arts and the Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre, is the result of a multi-disciplinary team that has explored the history through multiple perspectives. 
Beyond the exhibition, the history of Harry and Winnie will be explored in an upcoming children's book (to be released in 2015 by Little Brown in the U.S., Harper Collins in Canada).  Film rights to the book have been acquired by Hollywood production company RatPac Entertainment. 
Exhibition Teaser Video: http://youtu.be/V5aOQfsCeU0

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