The true story of Winnie the Pooh

Because of my love for this bear I feel the need to share the true story behind his inception and how it all happened…
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The Story

On December 24th, 1925, the London Evening News published a story by author A.A. Milne entitled The Wrong Sort of Bees. The story introduced as its main character a bear by the name of Winnie the Pooh. Unknown to anyone at the time, this short story would launch a series of Pooh stories, launching one of the most successful children’s characters of all time. Even today, over 80 years later Winnie the Pooh continues to grow in popularity.

Winnie the Real Live Bear

Long before author A.A. Milne first created his beloved character, there was a real live bear by the name of Winnie who had already won the hearts of Londoners. This black bear hailed from the wilderness of the Canadian forests, and had been on a long journey before finally coming to the London Zoo where it would first meet a young Christopher Robin Milne.

In summer of 1914 Canada was in mobilization to assist Great Britain in World War I. On one August day a train full of Canadian soldiers pulled into the station in White River, Ontario. One of the soldiers on board was a young Captain by the name of Harold Colebourn. Colebourn was a veterinarian hailing from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

While stopped in White River, Captain Colebourn came across a black bear cub. He purchased the cub for a sum of $20 and brought the animal along with him on the train ride east. The name “Winnipeg” came in homage to his hometown, although the name was quickly shortened to the more familiar “Winnie.”

Winnie soon became very popular with Colebourn and his friends, and Winnie became a mascot for their regiment, the 34th Fort Gary Horse of Winnipeg, Canadian Infantry Brigade. The bear travelled with them all the way to England. Colebourn left the bear with the London Zoo for safekeeping before crossing the English Channel to fight on the mainland of Europe.

The popular regimental mascot soon became a major attraction for the zoo. Everyone was in love with the bear, and in its 20 years at the zoo it would remain one of its primary attractions. One of the people to fall in love with the bear was a little boy by the name of Christopher Robin Milne. It was from Winnie, the black bear cub from White River, Ontario that much of the inspiration for Winnie the Pooh would come.

Christopher Robin and His Toys

But the bear at the London Zoo was not the only inspiration behind Winnie the Pooh. What of his friends Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger and all the rest of the residents of the 100-Acre Wood? These all began with young Christopher Robin and his collection of stuffed animals. One familiar with Milne’s classic tales will not be surprised to discover what sort of stuffed animals his young son had: a teddy bear (the stuffed bear was named Edward), a donkey (with no tail), a tiger, a pig and a baby kangaroo.

Christopher Robin and his interactions with his toys, along with his love affair with Winnie at the London Zoo were the inspirations for Milne’s incredibly successful stories. After first publishing The Wrong Sort of Bees Milne published Winnie the Pooh, the first Winnie the Pooh book in 1926.

The stories involved the adventures of a fictionalised Christopher Robin and his playtime with Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and the rest in the 100 Acre Wood. The 100 Acre Wood was inspired by Ashdown Forest, the area surrounding the Milne family home in Sussex, Crotchford Farm.

Perhaps the most famous of the real life locations that inspired the Pooh stories is a bridge located in an area known as Posingford Wood, near the village of Hartfield. It is this location that served as the inspiration for the famous Poohsticks bridge, wherein Pooh and his friend first invented the game of Poohsticks. In 1979 the bridge was restored and rechristened Poohsticks Bridge in a ceremony led by Christopher Robin Milne himself.

Christopher Robin’s childhood toys that served such important inspiration have become celebrities themselves in the intervening 80 years. Although unfortunately the original Roo (Christopher’s young baby kangaroo toy) was lost in an apple orchard during the 1930’s, the rest of the toys exist today and are in display in the Children’s Room of the New York Public Library.

Taken from AssociatedContent

… and that folks is the story of how Winnie the Pooh came to being

17 thoughts on “The true story of Winnie the Pooh

  1. I love Winnie the Pooh. Once I read a book on Winnie the Pooh and Philosophy. It was quite interesting to see how the philosophical approach fit so well with his adventures and outlook on life!

  2. Like you DON’T have a thing for Winnie the Pooh….. I never knew the real story, but what a great one that it is! That is like the movie “Finding Neverland” to me, and watching the story of JM Barrie and his inspiration for Peter Pan…….touching and human.

  3. i think that winni the pooh is very nice and i couldnt believe it when i first seen him because he was and still is so cute and seem so friendly. i started to think i should go and meet him one day. im so into winni the pooh and i will go crazy if i see him. mii cousin lik him to well really the whole family like him. i have pictures of him on mii wall and stuffed animals. i call winnie the pooh my husband and he’s my favorite cartoon character

  4. Hey, sanity! Just saw this… you didn’t mention the tragic part of this story. Christopher Robin never forgave his father for writing about him and his stuffed animals. When he grew older he became the manager of a book shop – where any book about Winnie the Pooh was prohibited.

  5. Never knew that part of the story, that’s kinda sad but can imagine him being the ridicule of the whole school “ooo look at little Chrissie playing with his girly dolls oo” kids are mean!

  6. the past 17 years i treated the stories of pooh as a cartoon story, i cant believe that it was derived from a true live gentle Bear. This is amazing.

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