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Winnie The Pooh Celebrates His 100th Birthday In Canada (PHOTOS)

11/05/2014 12:48 EST | Updated 11/06/2014 07:59 EST
Remembering Winnie The Pooh

You may be familiar with his jar of honey, fuzzy yellow fur and tiny red shirt, but the real Winnie the Pooh was a different type of bear altogether.

Long before author A.A. Milne created what we know today as the Winnie The Pooh book series, Winnie the black bear was bought for $20 by Canadian solider and veterinarian Harry Colebourn in 1914 in White River, Ont. As immortalized in a Heritage Moment in the '90s, Winnie the Pooh is technically one of the best known Canadians in the world.

And as the real Winnie turns 100 this year, Toronto's Ryerson University will be hosting a public exhibit featuring photos, newspaper clippings and Colebourn's personal belongings of his life with the little bear.

Lindsay Mattick, Colebourn's great-granddaughter who lives in Toronto, says although she read the books as a child, the family connection to the bear didn't seem like a big deal until she was about eight.

"There was a story in the media that said Winnie belonged to another regiment. At that point my grandfather Fred, Harry’s son, pulled out his father’s diaries to document the Winnipeg — and our family — connection to Winnie the Pooh," she tells the Huffington Post Canada. "I know that Harry fully intended to bring Winnie home with him to Canada, but the war lasted much longer than anyone could have imagined and when it was time to return, she had a new home."

Named after Colebourn's hometown of Winnipeg, Colebourn brought the bear to the London Zoo in December 1914 — it was there that she was discovered by Milne and his son, Christopher Robin.

"Harry passed away in 1947, long before I was born but one of the stories that has always stuck with me is that he used to look after animals even when people couldn't afford to pay for his services," Mattick says. "He had no idea this simple, loving gesture would have an international ripple effect that would become a gift to children around the world."

The exhibit runs from Nov. 5, to Dec. 7.

Check out some of the photos and items at this year's exhibit:

  • Remembering the Real Winnie
    Captain Harry Colebourn in 1914.
  • Remembering the Real Winnie
    Captain Harry Colebourn in 1914.
  • Remembering the Real Winnie
    Harry Colebourn and Winnie learning tricks.
  • Harry Colebourn and Winnie in Salisbury Plain in 1914.
  • Remembering the Real Winnie
    Harry Colebourn with his fellow soldiers and Winnie (Harry is second row, second from left).
  • Remembering the Real Winnie
    Harry Colebourn's diary entry on Aug, 24, 1914, which details him buying Winnie. "Left Pt. Arthur 7 a.m. on train all day, bought bear $20"
  • Remembering the Real Winnie
    Harry Colebourn's diary entry on Dec. 9, 1914: The page notes Colebourn brought Winnie to the London Zoo.
  • Remembering the Real Winnie
    Harry Colebourn's diary in 1914.
  • Remembering the Real Winnie
    Harry Colebourn's veterinary bag.
  • Remembering the Real Winnie
    Harry Colebourn's veterinary instruments.
  • Remembering the Real Winnie
    Photocopy of Animal Record Card when Winnie was officially donated to the London Zoo on Dec. 1, 1919
  • Remembering the Real Winnie
    Winnie on the Salisbury Plain.