Bill Thrune - USFWS
Spring's Journey North
Report Your Sightings
Search Journey North
Interview With Wiarton Public School
There is a celebration in Wiarton, Ontario, Canada similar to the one in Punxsutawney. Wiarton Willie,
an albino groundhog, comes out of its burrow on February 2. Willie has an unfailing ability to successfully predict
when spring will come!
This is the reply that we received from Wiarton Public School about the questions that we asked
them about Groundhogs and Groundhog Day.
Dear Dolphin Senior School,
Here are the answers to your questions:
Q. Why did they choose Groundhogs to predict whether winter will be longer or shorter?
A. Many years ago an Indian legend told of a white groundhog that could predict the weather. After sleeping through
the winter, he would awaken early in February, and
out he would come to see what the weather was like. In mediaeval Europe, another saying was:
"If Candlemas Day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another fight;
But if Candlemas Day brings clouds and rain,
Winter is gone and won't come again."
Germans who settled in Pennsylvania brought the custom to
Q. When did the tradition start?
A. Groundhog Day began a long time ago. Our mayor told us that his gramps was in it, so it was a very long time
ago, about 100 years. The tradition of a Groundhog Festival started back in 1956 when they just had a little gathering.
Q. Is Willy male or female?
A. Willie is a male. He lives at Wiarton Willie's Motel south of town. However, there was a female groundhog named
Wiarton Winnie, who lives in the north part of town.
Q. What kind of Groundhog is Willy?
A. Willie is an albino, which is white with pink eyes. They are extremely rare and hard to find. There are no albino
families, they are just found, very oddly in a litter.
Q. How old is Willy? Did you have any Groundhogs before Willy?
A. Willie is our second and best groundhog. He is 20- 21 years old. Groundhogs are only supposed to live from 8-12
years. If something happened to Willy we would pick another groundhog but we would make sure that it would be an
albino, that it would be well trained and would do a good job.
Q. Why did you name your Groundhog Willy?
A. We're not totally sure how he got his name but our mayor says that people just started calling him Willie, and
it stuck with him.
Q. How do you celebrate Groundhog Day in your city?
A. In the Grey-Bruce This Week newspaper, (Owen Sound, Ont.) Sat.,Jan. 24, 1998 an article appeared that answers
this question. "This year, on Saturday, January 31, the Wiarton Public School will open its doors for the
Wiarton Willie penny carnival".
Q. Is Groundhog Day televised?
#12. In the Grey-Bruce This Week newspaper, (Owen Sound, Ont.) Sat., Jan. 24, 1998 an article appeared that answers
Quote: " All of the major TV networks will be on hand to catch Willie live so if you can't make it you should
be able to watch it on Canada AM, City Pulse Breakfast TV, or the Weather Channel." Unquote.
From the students of Wiarton Public School