We stopped in White River because it is “the birthplace of Winnie the Pooh”, and wanted to find out more about that [see below].
The Pooh Festival was taking place the following weekend, featuring singer-songwriter Fred Eaglesmith, who just happens to be one of my favs. We weren’t going to be around, so would be missing it. That said, I was surprised that the ticket cost to see him was $25! Which is simply outrageous in this very small, very poor community.
Also, the town features an original Canadian Pacific Railroad Caboose, but it is now closed due to homeless people sleeping in it and trashing it.
Story behind Winnie the Pooh, per White River‘s website:
In White River, there was a little black bear cub that became an orphan when a hunter killed her mother. She was found by a trapper. The trapper sold the bear cub to soldier Harry Colebourn who was on a train stopover. The soldier once lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba and decided to name the little cub “Winnipeg” [Winnie] after his hometown.
The soldier eventually ended up in England. Soon he was being shipped to France, so he made arrangements to keep Winnie in the London Zoo until he returned. Winnie soon became a favorite attraction. People would knock on her door and she would open it and come out. She would allow children to ride on her back and she would eat from their hands. The attendants who cared for her stated that Winnie was completely trustworthy. Other bears were not allowed to have such a close relationship with the visiting public. When Colebourn saw how popular she was, he decided he would not take her back to Canada as he had planned. She was officially donated to the Zoo on December 1, 1918.
Winnie captured the hearts of many visitors to the Zoo, among them A.A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin Milne. It was Christopher who added “Pooh” to Winnie’s name. He got the name from his pet swan named Pooh. Christopher was given a bear on his birthday which he called “Winnie-the-Pooh”.
A.A. Milne started to write stories about a love-able bear in his children’s books based on that bear in the Zoo. In his first edition in 1926, he mentioned that these stories were about this bear and his son and his son’s stuffed animals.