The story of Winnie The Pooh began 100 years ago. And that’s all anyone needs as an excuse to go and re/read the stories and poems of A.A. Milne and glory in the gorgeous drawings of EH Shepard.
As noted by the CBC: “[A] Canadian soldier adopted a black bear cub and named it after his adopted hometown of Winnipeg, launching the saga of Winnie the Pooh. Lt. Harry Colebourn, a Canadian veterinarian and soldier with the Royal Canadian Army Veterinary Corps, came across the orphaned female bear cub on Aug. 24, 1914.”
Winnie became the unofficial mascot of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade.
Colebourn’s great-grand-daughter, Lindsay Mattick, followed in her ancestor’s footsteps to Europe this fall. The BBC reported that she travelled “with Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra who are performing a series of concerts to commemorate the Great War.”
“There’s a magic to it where one of the world’s most famous and beloved fictional stories had a real and true story behind it,” Mattick said. “And it was actually my great-grandfather’s story.”
If you’re in Toronto, the exhibit Remembering The Real Winnie is up at the Ryerson Image Centre until Dec. 7 (entry is free). Or check it out online at therealwinnie.ryerson.ca.
The classic Pooh books are filed in the Lennoxville Library’s JN section (including David Benedictus’ 2009 sequel), and versions for younger readers can be found in PB.
– November 8, 2014