Harry Colebourne and Winnie, 1914
Christopher Milne had named his toy bear after Winnie, a Canadian black bear which he often saw at London Zoo, and "Pooh", a swan they had met while on holiday. The bear cub was purchased from a hunter for $20 by Canadian Lieutenant Harry Colebourn in White River, Ontario, Canada, while en route to England during the First World War. He named the bear "Winnie" after his hometown in Winnipeg, Manitoba. "Winnie" was surreptitiously brought to England with her owner, and gained unofficial recognition as The Fort Garry Horse regimental mascot. Colebourne left Winnie at the London Zoo while he and his unit were in France; after the war she was officially donated to the zoo, as she had become a much loved attraction there. Pooh the swan appears as a character in its own right in When We Were Very Young.
In the first chapter of Winnie-the-Pooh, Milne offers this explanation of why Winnie-the-Pooh is often called simply "Pooh":
"But his arms were so stiff ... they stayed up straight in the air for more than a week, and whenever a fly came and settled on his nose he had to blow it off. And I think — but I am not sure — that that is why he is always called Pooh."
Ashdown Forest: the setting for the stories
The Winnie-the-Pooh stories are set in Ashdown Forest, Sussex, England. The forest is a large area of tranquil open heathland on the highest sandy ridges of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty situated 30 miles (50 km) south of London. In 1925 Milne, a Londoner, bought a country