Spring will be late, say majority of Canadian groundhog forecasters

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Spring will be late, according to the predictions of the first groundhog weather forecasters to show up on Wednesday.

Quebecer Fred the groundhog, from Val-d’Espoir in Gaspésie, has seen his shadow, which according to tradition means that winter will last another six weeks.

It was the same scenario in Nova Scotia, where Shubenacadie Sam emerged from his burrow and, according to his human attendant, saw his shadow.

Legend has it that if a groundhog sees its shadow on February 2, it will return to its burrow for another six weeks of winter. If he does not see his shadow, spring will be early.

Ontario groundhog Wiarton Willie, however, disagreed. Her appearance has also been somewhat mired in controversy.

Last year, Willie was noticeably absent from a video celebrating Groundhog Day. Local officials had predicted an early spring after throwing a fur hat in the air, a gesture they said was reminiscent of the tradition’s first run in Wiarton more than 60 years ago.

A few months later, the South Bruce Peninsula, which includes Wiarton, publicly admitted that the marmot had died of an infection.

This year, the groundhog was deployed on a stage in a Plexiglas box and, according to South Bruce Peninsula Mayor Janice Jackson, proclaimed that spring was near.

“Willie says it’s an early spring,” Jackson said after sticking his ear to the box.

Although this year’s viewership was minimal, the city pulled out all the stops to replicate Groundhog Days of yesteryear.

Jackson wore a costume meant to recall a bygone era, his hat adorned with pink and purple feathers, as town criers in red livery shouted over Willie’s supposedly sterling record.

“Predicting is no easy task, but our Wiarton Willie has had it in hand with flawless predictions for 65 years – yes, Willie’s predictions all come true!” they shouted.

Last year Willie had died of an infection caused by a dental abscess. At the time, Jackson said the albino groundhog died “long before the groundhog’s last day,” but she declined to specify when.

They couldn’t find a new white Willie, so this year’s groundhog was a more traditional brown shade.

And Willie isn’t the only famous groundhog with identity issues.

A spokesperson for the Nova Scotia park – a 45-minute drive north of Halifax – confirmed on Wednesday that Sam – or is it Samantha? — is a female groundhog who held the position of chief tipster for a time.

“It’s not new, although this may be the first year this has been highlighted,” the spokesperson said in text before the online ceremony began about 30 minutes after getting up. of the sun.

The park’s website, however, still refers to Sam as male.

In the United States, the famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil agreed with his counterparts in Nova Scotia and Quebec, predicting a long winter.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published in French on February 2, 2022.

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