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.