Get to know Canada's most famous groundhogs

Get to know Canada's most famous groundhogs
Get to know Canada's most famous groundhogs

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Groundhog Day arrives on February 2. On that day, we get to find out if winter will continue for six more weeks - although, to be fair, warmer than usual temperatures across parts of Canada this year have left some residents - including B.C.'s hibernating bears - thinking spring has already arrived.

We will know the official groundhog forecast soon. In the meantime, let's get to know some of Canada's most famous groundhogs.

Alberta

In Alberta, we have Balzac Billy, a critter in disguise.

Groundhogs are plentiful in most parts of Canada and the U.S., but they aren't found in southern Alberta, Global News explains, and that is precisely where the community of Balzac is located.

Residents created a workaround with Balzac Billy, a man-sized mascot who has been predicting the spring forecast since the 1970s. He's not even a groundhog: according to the Lethbridge Times Billy is a richardson ground squirrel, a common species in this locale.

This year, Billy will greet people in person, a nice change from previous COVID-era festivities, which forced the celebration to be held virtually.

Manitoba

Manitoba Merv has been leading local Groundhog Day celebrations for 30 years.

He started as an actor in children's puppet shows at Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre but has since moved on to a Groundhog Day mascot with an impressive track record.

Jacques Bourgeois, who works marketing and communications for the Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre, told CTV in 2019 Merv has a 98 per cent success rate.

Here's Merv in February 2020:

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Ontario

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Wiarton, Ontario is home to Wiarton Willie, the star of an annual local Groundhog Day festival bearing his name. Willie is apparently the world's only albino prognosticating groundhog.

Officials are hard at work getting things ready for the 2023 festivities, which include a trackless train and axe-throwing.

Québec

Fred la marmotte is the headlining act in Québec, and he resides in Val-d'Espoir.

Fred is unique because he's the only groundhog mascot who resides on a UNESCO world heritage site.

Here's Monsieur Fred in 2020:

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Nova Scotia

Shubenacadie Sam is a spectacular prognosticator. According to the park's website, he is "always" correct when it comes to predicting the arrival of spring.

Thumbnail image created by Cheryl Santa Maria using elements from Canva Pro.