Winnie the Pooh in Wiltshire

on Tuesday, 08 October 2013. Posted in Museums

As you may have see in previous blog entries we recently held our annual History Centre Open Day. This year the Conservation and Museums Advisory Service hosted an Anglo-Saxon warrior and displayed a rare seax (Anglo-Saxon knife) from Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum (link listed at the end of this entry). We also hosted a series of Wiltshire at War talks given by our friends from Chippenham Museum and The Rifles Museum in Salisbury (also see at the end of this article).

In amongst all this activity visitors on the day might have missed our small display about Winnie the Pooh in Wiltshire. Yes, there is a link between A.A. Milne’s famous bear and Wiltshire and yes it does relate to Wiltshire at War, which was the theme of our open day. The story goes…..

Winnipeg the Canadian bear

Harry Colebourn arrived in Wiltshire with thousands of other Canadians to train for the battles of World War One on Salisbury Plain.
His pet bear Winnipeg came with him.

When the time came to go to go to war Winnipeg was given to London Zoo to look after. Winnipeg, or Winnie as she was known, was seen by many children at the zoo, including Christopher Robin, the son of the writer A.A. Milne.

Christopher called his toy bear Winnie the Pooh. It was this toy, named after Winnipeg the Canadian bear, who went on to have many adventures in the books written by Christopher’s father A.A. Milne.

So, you probably know the Winnie the Pooh stories, but maybe didn’t know that the real life bear that gave him his name was to be found on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire 100 years ago.

Tim Burge, Museums Officer


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