The Jumbo Room
The Elgin Military Museum may well be the only such museum on
the continent that has a room dedicated to an elephant. However,
Jumbo, the largest elephant ever held in captivity, met his demise
here in St. Thomas, Ontario on September 15, 1885. In 1985, in
commemoration of the 100th anniversary of his death, a life-size
monument of this gentle animal was installed on the brow of the
hill a hundred yards up the street from the Museum. Finding a home
for the monument had proved to be a significant problem until
several members of the museum board (who just happened to serve on
the Jumbo Monument Committee) convinced other members of the museum
board to permit the statue of Jumbo to be placed in the parking lot
the museum had just built on Talbot Street.
Born in present day Mali, Africa in 1861, after capture, Jumbo
was sent first to the Paris Zoo and then on to the London Zoo. In
1882, zoo patrons petitioned Queen Victoria asking that she step in
and not permit him to be sold to P.T. Barnum for his circus. His
size was reported to be 10 feet 7 inches (3.25 metres) when in the
London Zoo, and at the time of his death, he was said to be
approximately 13 feet 1 inch (4 metres) tall. His name, Jumbo, has
now come to mean anything extraordinarily large.
A much repeated, if not totally accurate story, states that
after an evening performance of the Barnum Circus in St. Thomas,
Jumbo and a young elephant known as Tom Thumb were being led by
their trainer, Mr. Scott, to their special rail cars. When an
unscheduled freight train came down the track, Jumbo pushed his
trainer and Tom Thumb to the side but was unable to get out of the
way himself and was killed.
The Jumbo room contains artefacts relating to the life of this
great elephant and the lore which has grown up around him. If you
have any items relating to Jumbo that you would consider loaning or
donating to the Museum, please let us know and we would be happy to
discuss this with you.
Hannibal, an original carousel horse from the
awaits your arrival.