A century ago, a Canadian soldier launched a literary legacy when he adopted a black bear cub and named it after his hometown of Winnipeg. The soldier took the cub across the pond and eventually donated it to the London Zoo, where Winnie became the inspiration for the well-loved character. Today, Winnipeg’s Pavilion Gallery Museum, the centerpiece of Assiniboine Park, houses a permanent collection of Winnie the Pooh artifacts and memorabilia, including a painting by the book’s original illustrator. For now, while the border remains closed, consider rereading the classic or go on a teddy bear hunt in your neighborhood. More to explore: www.tourismwinnipeg.com
A good book can transport us to magical places when far-flung exploration may not be possible. Here are five ideas from the literary world to inspire you.
Winnipeg, Manitoba: ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ By A.A. Milne
Concord, Massachusetts: ‘Little Women’ By Louisa May Alcott
For decades, young readers have been enthralled by the adventures detailed in “Little Women.” Soon, we will once again have the option to visit the home of Louisa May Alcott, the novelist who crafted the compelling story around the relationships within her family. In time, you can take a guided tour and get a glimpse into how the Marche family lived in the home known as Orchard House. Many of the family’s treasures remain in the well-preserved structure, including family china and photographs. For now, you can take a virtual tour on the Alcott website or watch the recent feature-length film inspired by the novel. More to explore: www.louisamayalcott.org
The American West: ‘Riders of the Purple Sage’ By Zane Grey
Best-selling novelist and avid angler Zane Grey created robust stories detailing the life and culture of the American West. Through titles such as “Call of the Canyon,” “Riders of the Purple Sage” and “The Thundering Herd,” Grey’s tales of frontier character and romance inspired many to explore new country. His books involve every state west of the Missouri River except North Dakota. Visit his birthplace in Zanesville, Ohio, a town founded by his mother’s ancestors. You can also visit a replica of his Arizona cabin (the original burned in a 1990 wildfire), which served as his home base while exploring and writing. While the historic sites are temporarily closed, the adventures are alive and well in the novels he wrote and in the landscapes that served as inspiration. More to explore: www.zgws.org
Local exploration: ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ By Maurice Sendak
Why not use this creative tome as the centerpiece of a wild and wonderful weekend with the kids? Read Maurice Sendak’s colorful book, then visit your local park, or walk through a nearby forest and discuss the adventures of young Max, the main character. Top off the weekend by streaming the Spike Jonze movie of the same name on Netflix. The whole family will enjoy the mix of real actors, computer animation and live puppeteering, the combination of which brings the story to life. Let the wild rumpus begin.
Glen Ellen, California: ‘Call of the Wild’ By Jack London
Channel the adventuresome spirit of one of the planet’s most inspired writers with a plan to explore more than 26 miles of hiking, horseback and cycling trails across 1,400 acres in the stunning Sonoma Valley. In time, you can visit the stone barn and the home where London wrote his page-turners. The author of “Call of the Wild” and “White Fang” was laid to rest on this landscape that nurtured his creativity and drive. It is now a National Historic Landmark. Currently, you can access the historic area, trails and picnic tables. From afar, you can also access the park’s natural beauty through a video series that includes ideas for engaging with nature in meaningful ways. More to explore: www.jacklondonpark.com