Today is Teddy Bear Day and this is the story of a very special teddy bear.
Teddy is a stuffed bear that belonged to Aileen Rogers when she was a girl growing up in Quebec.When Aileen’s father, Lawrence Browning Rogers, went to fight for Canada in World War I, Teddy was shipped overseas to help protect him. In a letter from September 25, 1916, Lawrence wrote:Teddy was discovered, along with Lawrence’s wedding ring and letters from his family, after he died at Passchendaele.
Tell Aileen I still have the Teddy Bear and will try to hang on to it for her, it is dirty and his hind legs are kind of loose but he is still with me.
In the final years of her life, Aileen often spoke about Teddy and about her father’s departure for the war. Aileen’s niece, Roberta Rogers Innes, unearthed Teddy from an old family briefcase in 2002. The briefcase also included more than 200 letters that Lawrence had written to May during the war.
In 2003 Roberta submitted Teddy and some of the letters to The Memory Project, an initiative of The Dominion Institute, the Globe and Mail and the government of France. Those entities launched a national call for letters and photographs from the front lines of the First World War to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the end of the war.
Teddy was among the artifacts selected.The Rogers family donated Teddy to the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, where the little bear now has a spot in a glass case as part of the World War I exhibit.
There is a Children's book about Teddy's story, "A Bear in War"
You can find out more about the book and the Rogers family here.