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A Teddy Bear goes to war

July 2018

The Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Ontario, is the national repository for artifacts, photos and artwork related to Canada’s military past and the wars Canada has fought in, from the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763), up to modern conflicts like the Afghanistan War and Canada’s peacekeeping contributions.

In a display case in the World War I section of the museum sits a small, brown teddy bear.  This teddy bear was a gift to Lawrence Rogers of the Canadian Mounted Rifles from his 10 year old daughter Aileen.

Rogers shipped out to Europe in 1915 with his regiment, but always took time to write to his family back in Valcartier, Quebec.  Aileen was worried about her father and decided to send her teddy bear to him as a good luck charm.  He kept it with him in his pocket; a small reminder of home amidst the horrors of war.

In 1916, Rogers wrote to his family saying, “Tell Aileen that I still have the Teddy Bear and will try to hang onto it for her.  It is dirty and his hind legs are kind of loose, but he is still with me.”

Sadly, Rogers luck ran out on 30 October 1917, when he was killed at the Battle of Passchendaele.

Aileen’s teddy bear was found in his pocket and later returned to the family along with his other personal effects, including his spare uniform jacket and field cap.  All three items now reside in the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Ontario.

In 2002, Roberta Rogers Innes found her grandfather’s good luck teddy bear in a suitcase along with some letters.

Rogers great-granddaughter Stephanie Innes co-authored a book with Harry Endrulat describing Teddy’s journey to the battlefields of Europe and back to Canada titled, “A bear in war.”

Sources:  http://www.canadashistory.ca/education/classroom-resources/a-bear-in-war, http://stampsinmypassport.blogspot.com/2013/09/impressions-of-new-canadian-war-museum.html, Sentinel Magazine.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/a-teddy-bear-goes-to-war/

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