Getting to know Canada's most famous groundhogs

Cheryl Santa Maria
·2 min read
Getting to know Canada's most famous groundhogs
Getting to know Canada's most famous groundhogs
Getting to know Canada's most famous groundhogs

Groundhog Day arrives February 2 but like nearly every milestone that's happened recently, festivities will look different this year.

Local faires and gatherings will be replaced with virtual events. But fear not: even though you won't be able to see your local groundhog live this year, you can tune into The Weather Network on TV or at thewathernetwork.com on Tuesday, Feb. 5 to see what your favourite prognosticators have predicted.

On that note, let's get to know some of Canada's most famous groundhogs.

ALBERTA

In Alberta we have Balzac Billy, which is quite literally, 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.

Last year, 250 people attended Groundhog Day festivities in Balzac, which usually includes breakfast and live music. This year's events will be virutal.

MANITOBA

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

He started as an actor in children's puppet shows at Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre but has since moved on to Groundhog Day mascot, and one 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:

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, and people from around the world are being invited to tune in virtually to see the 2021 weather reveal and delve into Groundhog Day history.

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

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There are no public events scheduled in Shubenacadie Wildlife Park this Groundhog Day, home to Shubenacadie Sam. You can check in on him virtually through the park's website.

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