Colebourn, Harry

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Date of Birth 1887-04-12 Birmingham, Warwickshire, England

Date of Death 1947-09-24 Winnipeg, Manitoba

Harry Colebourn was a Canadian veterinarian who is best known for donating his bear cub named “Winnie” (short for “Winnipeg”) to the London Zoo. Winnie was the inspiration for A.A. Milne’s famous children’s book character Winnie-the-Pooh.

Harry Colebourn was a Canadian veterinarian who is best known for donating his bear cub named “Winnie” (short for “Winnipeg”) to the London Zoo. Winnie was the inspiration for A.A. Milne’s famous children’s book character Winnie-the-Pooh.

Harry Colebourn was born in Birmingham, England and emigrated to Canada when he was 18. He attended the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph, receiving his degree in Veterinary surgery, and moved west to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

As he was heading across Canada by train to the training camp at Valcartier, Quebec where he was to embark for overseas duty during World War I, Colebourn met a hunter in White River, Ontario on August 24, 1914 who had a female black bear cub for sale. The hunter had killed the cub’s mother and sold the cub to Colebourn for $20. Colebourn named her “Winnie,” after his adopted hometown, and took her across the Atlantic with him to Salisbury Plain, where she became an unofficial mascot of The Fort Garry Horse, a Militia cavalry regiment. Colebourn himself was a member of the Canadian Army Veterinary Corps, attached to the Fort Garry Horse as a veterinarian. While Colebourn served three years in France, attaining the rank of major, he kept Winnie at the London Zoo to whom he eventually donated her.

Interment Info

Brookside Cemetery, Winnipeg.  Plot 1312, in the Field of Honour.

ColebournHarry (Dr)36378MLTY-1312-09/24/19479/27/1947
Follow Stephanie Allen:

I learned my love of “spirit walking” from my Mother, Barbara Ann Scott. My Mum was an avid genealogist who spent many days in cemeteries in Ontario, Quebec and Scotland. I joined my Mother on many of these research visits and found that I was really moved by some of the inscriptions, the dates and trends. I realized that much could be learned about the local history of an area by examining the cemeteries. I have continued to be inspired to visit cemeteries in communities even if I don’t know anyone who is interred there. I have stumbled upon former Canadian Prime Ministers, artists and athletes. I have also discovered many small communities and vanished villages near and far from home. This web site is about acknowledging the many great Canadians who shaped the Canada I know.

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