Groundhog Day in Canada

Frame from the movie, Groundhog day, showing the clock radioI have to hand it to Tom Allen, the Clas­si­cal DJ of the CBC’s morn­ing show ‘Music and Com­pany’ (who I’ve praised in past post­ings): he opened his show this morn­ing with the leg­endary “I got You, Babe” by Sonny and Cher because that’s how Bill Murray’s char­ac­ter wakes up each morn­ing in the movie Ground­hog Day (which I’ve also men­tioned in these pages). That photo is actu­ally a frame from the movie, one of the many times Phil Con­nors is awoken with that duo from the 60s.

What I did not know is that in Canada, they not only have a dif­fer­ent ground­hog than Punxsa­tawney Phil, but they actu­ally have 2 of them here, named Wiar­ton Willie (in Wiar­ton, Ontario), and Shube­nacadie Sam (near Hal­i­fax, Nova Sco­tia). Unlike, Phil, Wiar­ton Willie is an albino and is a hand­some shade of white, which makes him look a lit­tle like a lit­tle polar bear. Sam is the more typ­i­cal brown groundhog.

The pre­dic­tion by all three ground­hogs in North Amer­ica is for an early spring. None of them saw their shadow, which means, accord­ing to the Scot­tish couplet:

If Can­dle­mas Day is bright and clear, there’ll be two win­ters in the year.

So Can­dle­mas Day, (which is tech­ni­cally a date rel­a­tive to Christ­mas but since the date for Christ­mas is now fixed to Decem­ber 25, it is now also fixed at Feb­ru­ary 2) was cloudy where these ground­hogs were, so there’ll only be one win­ter this year.

Frankly, given that ground­hogs never had to reckon with Global Warm­ing or any of the changes that this is bring­ing, if they had pre­dicted a long win­ter, I doubt if I would have believed them. How­ever, the unan­i­mous ver­dict by all 3 of a short win­ter this year is inter­est­ing; I’m mak­ing a note of it, and if next year and the year after they con­tinue to all pre­dict a short win­ter, then maybe there’s some­thing to this Annual Rodent Mete­o­ro­log­i­cal Fore­cast­ing Ritual.

Update: Thanks to Miss604 (who also asso­ciates the day not only with the afore­men­tioned ani­mal but also with that Sonny and Cher song) I learned that there are more than just the two ground­hogs I men­tioned. There’s a whole list of them through­out North Amer­ica (most of them in the US). From CityNews:

Nova Sco­tia: Shube­nacadie Sam
Bran­don, Man­i­toba: Bran­don Bob
Alberta: Balzac Billy
Klein­burg, Ont.: Gary the Ground­hog
Birm­ing­ham, Alabama: Birm­ing­ham Bill
Mar­ion, Ohio: Buck­eye Chuck
St. Louis: Chester
Dunkirk, New York: Dunkirk Dave
West Virig­ina: French Creek Freddy
Geor­gia: Gen­eral Beau­re­gard Lee
Sun Prairie, Wis­con­sin: Jimmy the Ground­hog
Long Island, N.Y.: Malverne Mel
Lan­caster, Penn­syl­va­nia: Octarara Orphie
Ver­mont: Pee­wee, the Wood­chuck
Hol­lis, New Hamp­shire: Pen­nichuck Chuck
North Car­olina: Sir Wal­ter Wally
Staten Island, N.Y.: Staten Island Chuck
Unadilla, Nebraska: Unadilla Bill

Ground­hogs of North Amer­ica, hope your spe­cial day went well. Now you can go back to sleep.