Wiarton Willie, Shubenacadie Sam And Fred La Marmotte Predict Early Spring | CBC News


Wiarton Willie, a white groundhog that lives in Wiarton, Ont., has predicted an early spring, matching similar forecasts from Punxsutawney Phil, Fred la marmotte and Shubenacadie Sam. Lucy the Lobster, however, saw her shadow, indicating six more weeks of winter.

Willie’s prediction matches those of Punxsutawney Phil, Shubenacadie Sam and Fred la marmotte

Kate Bueckert · CBC News

· Posted: Feb 02, 2024 5:48 AM EST | Last Updated: 32 minutes ago

The groundhogs say early spring — the lobster? Not so muchIt’s Groundhog Day, and Shubenacadie Sam, Fred la Marmotte, Wiarton Willie and Punxsutawney Phil all came in with the same verdict: no shadow, early spring. But Lucy the lobster, an upstart in seasonal shadow-watch space, went the other way.

Wiarton Willie has predicted an early spring, matching similar outlooks from other weather prognosticating groundhogs.

In front of a large crowd in the town of Wiarton, Ont., on Friday morning, Willie told South Bruce Peninsula Mayor Jay Kirkland he did not see his shadow, signalling an early spring.

It matches predictions by Shubenacadie Sam in Nova Scotia, Fred la marmotte in Quebec and Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania.

The lone dissenting voice among weather-prognosticating animals was Lucy the Lobster in Barrington, N.S. She saw her shadow and predicted “six more weeks of wonderful winter.”

Willie, an albino groundhog, made his prediction at 8:07 a.m. ET. To give the prediction, Willie is brought out of his habitat and tells the mayor whether he sees his shadow.

If Willie had seen his shadow, it would have indicated six more weeks of winter.

Wiarton is a town of about 1,900 people located on the shores of Colpoy’s Bay off Georgian Bay. Every year, it holds an annual festival that kicks off with a pancake breakfast and fireworks at 7 a.m. It also celebrates with a family festival on Saturday, a curling bonspiel, a chili cook-off, skating, a darts tournament and more.

Wiarton festival started by ‘spirited individual’The Groundhog Day tradition in Wiarton dates back to 1956. The town of South Bruce Peninsula says it was started by a “spirited individual” named Mac McKenzie that had “a desire to shake off the winter blues and bring some warmth to the community.”

Groundhog Day was marked in the U.S., with the first prediction by Punxsutawney Phil in 1886, the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s website reports. The first official trek to Gobbler’s Knob was made on Feb. 2, 1887.

South Bruce Peninsula says McKenzie invited friends out for a night on the town to mark Groundhog Day and sent out a joke news release ahead of it, which was picked up by a reporter who arrived in town to report on the event.

“In a moment of whimsy and spontaneity, when asked about the whereabouts of the groundhog, Mac playfully tossed a fur hat into the snow,” the town’s website says.

“Seizing the opportunity for a memorable photo, the reporter immortalized the hat as a stand-in for the elusive groundhog.”

Wiarton Mayor Jay Kirkland announces an early spring with Wiarton Willie during a Groundhog Day event Friday in the Ontario town located on the shores of Colpoy’s Bay off Georgian Bay. (Doug Ball/The Canadian Press)Other weather prognosticating animalsPunxsutawney Phil is perhaps the world’s best-known groundhog — he’s been predicting the weather the longest and his life was the basis for the movie Groundhog Day staring Bill Murray.

In Canada, other weather-prognosticating animals include:

Shubenacadie Sam, living in Shubenacadie Wildlife Park in Nova Scotia. Lucy the Lobster, living in Barrington, N.S. Fred la Marmotte in Val-d’Espoir, Que. Fred died last year, but a new Fred was expected to make a prediction this year. There was also Winnipeg Wyn, but she died in 2020.

Other “groundhogs” that also offer predictions include Manitoba Merv (a puppet/golf club cover) and Balzac Billy (a person in a groundhog mascot costume).

WATCH | Lucy the Lobster claws her way to Groundhog Day fame:

Lucy the Lobster claws her way to Groundhog Day fameIn the self-described lobster capital of Canada, Barrington, N.S., a 50-year-old crustacean named Lucy has been making weather predictions on Groundhog Day for the past few years, joining a menagerie of animals taking part in the annual tradition.


Kate has been covering issues in southern Ontario for more than 15 years. She is currently a CBC News reporter/editor working for CBC Kitchener-Waterloo. Email: kate.bueckert@cbc.ca

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