“And furthermore,” I said, “how come Winnie the Pooh has a girl’s name?”
This is the kind of argumentative brat I was circa 1960. Long after the fact, the worst that could happen has happened: not only was she a female, but she was black:
Canadian author Lindsay Mattick has a brand new picture book out called Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear. In it, Mattick tells the story of her great-grandfather, Harry Colebourn, who was a WWI veterinarian on his way to London to treat battlefield horses. Just before getting on a train, he happened to spot a li’l bear cub tied to a pole, and “followed his heart and rescued [the] baby bear.” Colebourn named the bear Winnie, after his native home, Winnipeg, Canada.
What kind of lowlife ties a bear cub to a pole?
And apparently the book is not quite as brand-new as our source says, but I hadn’t heard of it. (Maybe if it had come out circa 1960.)
Colebourn and Winnie became fast BFFs, and the two stayed together until Colebourn had to deploy to France. He knew Winnie couldn’t travel with him, so he took her to the London Zoo and asked if they could look after his cub. The London Zoo said yes, of course, and the two went their separate ways. Pause to cry a little bit.
Now dry those tears, because this story has a happy ending. Even though Colebourn left Winnie behind, she wasn’t alone for long. A little boy named Christopher Robin loved to visit Winnie at the zoo. Christopher Robin even re-named his own stuffed bear, “Edward,” to “Winnie.” And Christopher Robin’s dad? Writer A. A. Milne, who clearly took a liking to Winnie as well, because soon children everywhere were reading about the adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin in the Hundred Acre Wood.
And at that stage of my existence, I was telling jokes on the level of “What do Winnie the Pooh and Popeye the Sailor have in common?”
One last bit of Canadian content: this lovely, if sappy, tune by the Toronto band Edward Bear.