Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Winnie the Pooh

more than just a teddy bear

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Winnie the Pooh

When you are a grandmother who loves to travel you often pick up information that you know your grandchildren would be really interested in. And if I use my grandkiddies as my 'sample audience of four' I believe most kids of seven+ who know about Winnie the Pooh would sit quietly as you showed them these photos and retold this story in your own words. This is especially true if you also tell them that Winnie turns 99 this year.

Recently I explored the lovely Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg, Canada. I was going there originally to see the English Gardens as well as the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden both of which enjoy excellent reputations. It was a lovely sunny day and I was really looking forward to my time there. What I didn't expect to also find in the park was free entrance to a permanent collection of Winnie the Pooh art and memorabillia. What a sweet find! And.. 'oh, the things I learned.'

Who knew that Winnie the bear was a real orphan bear cub that was bought in 1914 by Winnipeg veterinarian, Colonel Harry Coleburn? Colonel Coleburn named his bear 'Winnie" after the city of Winnipeg and subsequently sold the bear to the London Zoo.

Who knew that Christopher Robin was not just a figment of a writer's imagination? In truth this little boy was the son of A.A. Milne, the man who created Winnie the Pooh. Father and son often visited Winnie the Bear in the London Zoo and Dad's book and Winnie the Pooh stemmed from those visits. Other characters like Piglet were named after Christopher Robin's actual toys. And, according to the British Postal Museum website, 'Hundred Acre Wood' in which the stories are set was inspired by the Five Hundred Acre Wood near to where Milne lived in East Sussex.

A sign at the entrance to the collection told the full story of how both countries, Canada and England and four cities, White River, Quebec City, Winnipeg and London had a hand in making Winnie a beloved character for children around the world. The Pooh books are translated into almost every language; they are especially popular in Russia and Poland. And according to the British Postal Museum website,' there is a street in Warsaw named after Pooh.' Who would have guessed?

The illustrations in the book Winnie the Pooh were not done by A.A. Milne. What I learned was that the artist responsible for all the Pooh books was Londoner, E.H. Shepard. This E.H. Shepard painting of Winnie the Pooh is the only known oil painting of the famous teddy bear. It was purchased at an auction for $285,000 in London late in 2000 (Fact source Wikipedia). Today the painting is displayed at the Pavilion Gallery. What a treat it was for me to actually see that piece of art!

The Pooh Gallery exhibit includes the original illustration of Pooh and Piglet that was to be considered in page 103 of the book. This illustration was destined for Chapter 1, page 3.

How I wished I could have seen those actual pages in the first copies.

In 1979 London a special honor was bestowed on the Pooh creators. During the Year of the Child this 11-pence stamp was issued by the British Postal Service.

When I thought I had seen all that the tiny Pooh Gallery had to offer, I spied this sign which challenged me to look further. I had no idea where the Children's Nature Playground was located but this had now become a Treasure Hunt of sorts that I had to complete. A kind security guard sent me in the right direction.

And there it was. The Ontario black bear and the Winnipegger cast in bronze. Both Canadian heros. This sculpture by William Epp was dedicated to the "Children of the World' in August 1992.

Winnie the black bear died in the London Zoo May 12, 1934. The fictional Winnie the Pooh lives on in all our imaginations.

POSTSCRIPT: I received this note from Jane Childerhose a reader in California who writes ... Here are two photos. I still have the first 1920's edition of the Winnie the Pooh book that was my father's. The first shows that Shephard was, indeed, the series illustrator. The second photo shows how well worn the books were. If any other readers have photos related to this post or more background about Winnie the Pooh, please let me know. Who knows what we will find.


Air Canada Get Your Act Together

I gave air canada another chance. Big mistake.

Air Canada Get Your Act Together

Air Canada standby
This year Air Canada lost my orange bag for 99 days. 99 days! Kudos to them, though, for returning it to me after three months. Three months! (I live in Toronto, Canada; I think they found it in Angola and it arrived at my home with an ironic RUSH ticket affixed to it). I admit I was so grateful to have the bag back with nothing missing that I thanked them profusely and kinda forgave them. So what if my bag was much worse for wear with a chunk torn out of it. I had all my travel things back safe and sound.
Recently, I flew on assignment from Toronto to Winnipeg and had my choice of airlines I could fly. Don't carry grudges I reminded myself. So, I chose Air Canada one more time, giving them another try. After all, according to their website they've won 'North America's Best Airline Award' four years in a row. Ha! Silly me for thinking that they cared. Like all errant boyfriends, I should have known Air Canada would let me down once again.
My ticket information suggested that I log onto the Air Canada website to choose my seat 24 hours prior to the flight. Since I was busy and didn't really care which seat I had, I ignored their suggestion. I figured I'd arrive early to the airport and pick my seat then. For a 10 AM flight I awoke at five o'clock in the morning and left my house at six exactly, when the subway started running. Making my way to the Airport bus stop, I caught a 6:30 AM bus and arrived at Pearson Airport at least two hours before the flight and thirty minutes earlier than the 90 minutes that is required for domestic check-in.
Imagine my surprise when the Air Canada agent slapped a bright yellow and black tag (like they use at crime scenes) to my bag. It screamed, 'standby passenger.'
Oh, you are mistaken, I told her very politely.
No, this isn't a mistake, the flight is oversold, she answered.
But my ticket is confirmed and I'm here early, I explained incredulously.
You didn't check in last night, she retorted.
But, nowhere do you advise passengers that they MUST check-in online 24 hours earlier, I countered.
Well, unfortunately it's a very busy flight and everybody else checked in 24 hours before. Show this to the agent at the gate. She'll arrange things for you, she shot back impatiently and went to deal with the next person.
Really, Air Canada?
At this point my 'what if' anxieties began popping up faster that I could quell them.
What if I actually miss the flight?
What if I can't reach the person waiting for me at the airport?
What if I miss my first afternoon of work? I'll have to delete something else from my schedule because today's activities are really important.
As my boarding pass requested I made my way to Gate B32 and except for one AC agent, there was nobody else around. I showed him my boarding pass with the now 'special code' attached to it. 
He said, We don't deal with these until one hour before the flight. I expect you should get on. And with those words he, too, left me and his duties at the gate.
I was alone. As the clock ticked by I saw very few other people at this gate but I was reassured by the screen that announced, Destination: Winnipeg. Departure: 10:10
Still no other people joined me at the gate. Naturally I fretted about whether I would actually make it on to the plane.
At approximately one hour before the posted flying time, there was an Air Canada announcement advising that the Winnipeg departure gate had now been moved to Gate D20.
Really, Air Canada?
I grabbed my luggage and my purse and ran as quickly as I could to the designated agent at the designated desk. I told her my story and at this point fairly insisted I must make the flight. In return, she gave me the 'flight overbooked' story, she took my boarding pass and directed me to sit down and wait. And I waited another ten minutes. Then she made the official 'overbooked' announcement and invited any passengers who wished to give up their seat, travel later and receive a $200 voucher towards their next flight to come to her station.
One man quickly volunteered and then one more. Twenty minutes before the flight I was told I could fly. Phew!
I wish I could have felt grateful. All I felt was angry. I had done nothing wrong. I had checked in on time. It was Air Canada that had overbooked so that their revenue stream would be the best it could be. However, they thought nothing of bumping me if they couldn't find room for me in MY SEAT that had been paid for weeks before.
Really Air Canada? I suggest you get your act together.