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Fenton’s First Year

Whether it's "Pinocchio", "The Velveteen Rabbit" or the "Toy Story" movies, many of us grew up with stories of our toys and stuffies coming to life. A little bit of that same magic happened here at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 when our little bear Fenton, the stuffed star and hero of the children's program Teddy Bear's Journey, came to life as our official Museum Mascot.

It was a magical day in March of 2015 when he arrived at our doors, and suddenly Fenton was real. Instead of standing just 10 inches high, now Fenton is 6’2” on a short day, and as big, fluffy and bear-huggable as we'd ever dreamed. Everyone on staff was excited to see him walking and dancing around the offices, and eager for Fenton to make his public debut.

The first kids to meet Fenton in person were in preschool at the Prospect Road Community Centre—what a surprise for them, to have a big fuzzy bear walk into their classroom that day! A short time later, thousands from around the world checked out Fenton's sweet dance moves in the "When You Work at a Museum" international dance off/music video competition. (See below) And then in May, the newly renovated and expanded Museum opened, and suddenly Fenton was everywhere!

Throughout the summer, you could find Fenton sneaking up and surprising school groups in the exhibits, going to fairs and festivals around the city, and hanging around outside the front doors on busy cruise ship days, taking selfies with visitors (and once with a very cute puppy!) He filled up on cake on Canada Day, and stayed up way past his bedtime on Nocturne. He was very busy and loved every minute of it. Soon everybody wanted to see Fenton, and he was as real as the other animals in Halifax’s museums. Even though he’s not as old and wise as Gus the Tortoise, or as colourful and chatty as Merlin the Talking Parrot, it’s clear that Fenton is certainly the best dancer.

Fenton's favourite event of the year, of course, was in December when we had a fun family day called "Bears! Bears! Bears!" It was a great day all about Fenton and his furry brothers and sisters. Fenton made lots of new friends that day. Even the shyest little ones liked to pet Fenton's soft fur. Then they all sat together to watch a movie about another bear who helps travellers out, named Paddington. Fenton loved the movie because it reminded him of his own adventures. He also loved meeting lots of other bears at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic’s "Teddy Bears Ahoy!" opening, and big Fenton brought little Fenton along to join the busy bear display.

And unlike wild bears, Fenton doesn't need to hibernate, so he's been active all winter, too. He recently braved the snow and the cold, and went to say hello to skaters at the Oval. Sadly, there are no skates big enough to fit his big bear paws, so he stayed on the sidelines and waved and gave hugs to all the families out enjoying the wintery day.

What will 2016 bring for Fenton? I'm sure there will be dancing, high fives and lots of bear hugs. He's already done so much, and made so many new friends, but he would love to meet more! Will you be one of them?