I love Winnie-the-Pooh. Until a couple of years ago I did not know Milne based Pooh’s character on a real bear, and Christopher Robin, on his own son Christopher Robin Milne.
I remember watching and falling in love with Winifred the Bear, in the movie A Bear Named Winnie. I had no idea when I watched it I that I was watching the story of Pooh. Mostly because Winnie unlike Pooh was a black bear.
Quoting the website Pooh Corner:
“There is little doubt about the origins of the bear and I am very grateful to Gordon Crossley, the Regimental Historian of The Fort Garry Horse in Winnipeg, Canada, who generously gave me the background history of the original Winnie, the American black bear cub who was the inspiration for A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, the loveable Bear of Very Little Brain.
| Lieutenant Colebourn with Winnie on Salisbury Plain, ≈December, 1914
© Manitoba Archives, Winnipeg
In August, 1914, Lieutenant Harry Colebourn, a Veterinary Officer with the 34th Fort Garry Horse of Manitoba, was travelling by train from his home in Winnipeg to enroll in the Canadian Army Veterinary Corps in Valcartier, Quebec.
Travelling by Canadian Pacific Railway, his train made a stop at White River in Ontario, where he noticed a man further along the station platform with an American black bear cub tied to the arm of the bench on which he was seated.
He struck up a conversation and, learning that the man was a trapper who had shot and killed the cub’s mother, Colebourn offered him $20 for the young bear — the trapper eagerly accepted the offer and the cub was taken to Quebec, where she became the mascot of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade, as Harry had been assigned to the Headquarters of that formation. One of the units in the 2nd Brigade was the 6th (Fort Garry) Battalion, which had been formed from Harry’s old unit, the 34th Fort Garry Horse.”
The movie follows Winnie’s adventures as the mascot. I cried and I laughed and cried some more, falling in love with the little bear cub. When I finally put one and one together and realized Winnie the Bear, Winnie the Pooh, I was even more enamored by her.
Not to spoil the movie, but to finish the story. Young Christopher Robin met Winnie at a zoo in England, and was captivated by the bear. Naming his stuffed bear Winnie, after her. His Daddy being a children’s author seized the opportunity to create a world for Christopher Robin and his stuffed animals. We all get to join in the world of his imagination, oh am I so glad that we have Winnie the Pooh and his wisdom.
Kenny Loggins wrote song for his son that takes us all back to Pooh Corner, at the end of the song is a short Pooh clip. It is fun finding and honoring the child inside, and remembering the stories that molded us.
So in the words of the late Paul Harvey…Now you know…the rest of the story.
Thanks for reading! ~Shanna