With the Winnipeg population trending upwards from the current 709,253, the city has steadily gained a reputation as a centre for high-tech and innovation in Canada. But what do you really know about it? While a typical Winnipeg history timeline may include such routine facts such as ‘When did Winnipeg become a city?’ (November 8, 1873), few talk about the really interesting facts about the region.
Let’s take a look at 4 interesting things about Winnipeg that you probably didn’t know.
It’s The Inspiration For Winnie The Pooh
When Winnipeg-born army officer Lt. Harry Colebourne was travelling by train through northern Ontario on his way to France during World War I, he encountered a black bear cub for sale at a train station stop. Adopting the cub and naming her “Winnie” after his hometown, he brought her with him as far as London, where she was left in the care of the city’s zoo.
Although Winnie was eventually supposed to relocate to Winnipeg after the war, she ultimately stayed in London. Among the zoo patrons who fell in love with the playful bear was a young boy named Christopher Robin, whose father – A.A. Milne – would later be inspired when creating Winnie the Pooh.
Today, in recognition of its place in Winnipeg’s history, Assiniboine Park features the Pooh Gallery, a tribute to the beloved children’s character.
The Birthplace of The “Real” James Bond
It isn’t widely known that a Winnipeg native would eventually become the inspiration for the famous James Bond character.
Born in the Point Douglas area of the city in 1897, Sir William Samuel Stephenson was a soldier, successful businessmen, and eventually a key figure in international espionage. An anomaly among individuals from Winnipeg in the early 1900s, his business concerns across North America and Europe placed him in the perfect position to feed Sir Winston Churchill with badly-needed intelligence about Nazi Germany’s military mobilizations and was later assigned the secret codename Intrepid.
He was later recruited by Churchill to run high-level intelligence-gathering operations in the U.S. and Britain and he had an enormous impact on the creation of code interception and decryption methods that would prove to be essential to learning about Germany’s operations during World War II.
Sir Ian Fleming later wrote that “James Bond is a highly romanticised version of a true spy. The real thing…is William Stephenson.”
Origin of a Highly Effective Ebola Vaccine
A Winnipeg laboratory has developed an Ebola vaccine that, when administered to someone within days of exposure to the virus, has a perfect track record of protecting them from infection.
The discovery is being hailed by the World Health Organization as the world’s most effective tool at fighting the Zaire strain of the virus — the deadliest strain of Ebola.
The experimental vaccine was developed by the Canadian government at Winnipeg’s National Microbiology Lab.
A new and highly effective Ebola vaccine was developed in 2016 by Winnipeg’s National Microbiology Lab. After 15 years of research, the team working in the high-security facility managed to create a “breakthrough” vaccine that, according to some reports, offers a 100% protection rate against the deadly virus.
This game-changing vaccine will now serve as a blueprint for fighting other related viruses and has the potential to put a halt to devastating outbreaks.
Ethnic Cultural Diversity
While Canada is known for its cultural diversity, few cities have as eclectic a cultural mix relative to its size as Winnipeg.
Seeing a 62% rise in the number of immigrants over the past decade alone as the sixth-most coveted destination for immigrants, a growing number of people are choosing the city over others due to highly sought-after qualities.
Alongside Indigenous peoples, immigrants from the Philippines have always made up a large portion of the area’s cultural mix. Government efforts to increase the skilled labour workforce in the 1990s have paid off, with German-speaking Mennonite communities also having deep roots.
Ultimately, as Winnipeg becomes more of a hot technology and innovation centre, it will attract a greater percentage of ethnicities into the mix.