Winnie the Pooh

I was a dreamy child. By that I don’t mean I was a dream, more I was IN a dream. I bumbled through life only vaguely aware of what went on around me, more interested in books and art. I moved little, in fact my grandfather was once heard to observe, while watching me at the swimming pool, ‘She even dives slowly.’

In my spare time, influenced in no small way by the above grandfather, I consumed every book available, starting with the books on my shelves, Peter Rabbit and friends, The Secret Seven, Famous Five, Naughtiest Girl, Chalet School, Black Beauty (so sad) and others. I read my brother’s Billy Bunter, Just William and Jungle Books then began on books my mother had read and before her, my grandmother and in some cases my great grandmother: Eric or Little By Little, Little Women, Tom Brown’s SchoolDays and I can’t remember what else.

The stories from childhood that I remember most fondly, the magical, funny stories that were read to me by my mum or dad at bed time, and later read to myself, were A.A. Milne’s: Winnie the Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner and his poems in Now We Are Six and When We Were Very Young – Aah, Alexander Beetle and They’re Changing Guard at Buckingham Palace.

I was always puzzled by the first chapter of Winnie-the-Pooh, entitled, ‘In which we are introduced to Winnie-the-Pooh and some bees and the stories begin’. The first line is, ‘Here is Edward Bear, coming down the stairs…’

No real clarification followed although Christopher Robin gives a child-like and inexplicable explanation of why he is Winnie, that being a girl’s name. There is no reference, after that first sentence, to the name Edward.

So when Whizz pointed me at a very modern version of the transmitted word, a podcast, about that very subject I was interested.

I suppose it is fairly common knowledge that Christopher Robin was the son of A.A. Milne and that the stories in the books are based on his toys, but who knew that Winnie the Pooh was named after a real bear?

It started in Canada.

In 1914 Harry Colebourne  of the Canadian Cavalry was en route to report to the Canadian Army Veterinary Corps (CAVC), when he spotted a bear cub on White River, Ontario Station, and bought her for $20. Winnie is short for Winnipeg, Harry’s home city.

Winnie with Colebourn. (Thanks to Wikipedia)

Harry kept Winnie throughout his service on the Canadian Western Front, and eventually she travelled  with him to England  as his pet and a mascot for the CAVC. Some time later Colebourne had to go to France, and he left Winnie at London Zoo.

It was at London Zoo that the child,  Christopher Robin, was to encounter Winnie. Because she had been a pet, she was gentle and could be stroked, and fed Honey. Christopher loved feeding Winnie and apparently returned with his father several times do do just that. He became so fond of the bear that he renamed his teddy from Edward to Winnie.

Well, you learn something new every day.

I would like to credit Futility Closet for the information in this blog.  https://www.futilitycloset.com/2017/11/06/podcast-episode-176-bear-inspired-winnie-pooh/ and also Wikipedia. Follow the link to hear the whole episode and to see some amazing pictures of Winnie, her owner and also Christopher Robin feeding Winnie with HUNNY.

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