Canadians celebrate February 2, Groundhog Day, which began in the United States in 1887. The idea is that a groundhog exiting its burrow can predict whether winter will stay or go based on whether the groundhog sees its shadow. The day began as a stunt by a newspaper in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and the tradition has endured the test of time.
The first Groundhog Day began in the United States in 1887 in Pennsylvania Dutch country and it is believed to be an adaptation of a German Candlemas tradition involving a badger.The idea is that a groundhog exiting its burrow can predict whether winter will stay or go based on whether the groundhog sees its shadow.
Ok, but how did this begin in Canada?
It began in Canada as a practical joke, 70 years after it started in Pennsylvania.
In 1957, a jovial local, Mac McKenzie decided his little town of Wiarton needed 'livening up' in the bleak months of winter.
McKenzie sent out invitations to all of his city friends, welcoming them to a Groundhog Day celebration in his hometown.
Most knew Mac was a long time joker, and ignored the invite - and the long trek north. However, the invitation did catch the attention of one Frank Teskey, reporter/photographer from the Toronto Daily Star. When Teskey arrived in Wiarton, he asked for directions to the Groundhog celebration but the local residents were confused, and didn’t know about any celebration. When the reporter mentioned the name 'Mac McKenzie’ he was directed to the Arlington Hotel where he found McKenzie sharing a few drinks with a dozen or so friends. Teskey, the reporter, asked McKenzie, “What's the deal?” And Mac said “This is it,” so Teskey joined in the party but he couldn't go back to Toronto without a story for the paper.
So the group went outside to the snow and dug a little hole. They didn’t even have a groundhog so they looked around for something that looked like a groundhog, they used the fur from a lady’s hat and threw it into the hole, snapped a photo and a story was born!
That is how we came to celebrate Groundhog day in Canada.
According to CP24 Wiarton Willie, was nowhere to be seen this morning as officials called an early spring after throwing a fur hat into the air; a move they said hearkens back to the tradition's first edition more than 60 years ago. Today the spring forecast was delivered by Janice Jackson, the mayor of the Town of South Bruce Peninsula, in a pre-recorded video that also included a brief history of the first ever Groundhog Day event in Wiarton.
The town's deputy clerk said in an email to CP24, “The committee decided to pay tribute to the first prediction (which did not include a groundhog, only a fur hat) because it was the 65th anniversary this year and we were not able to host a live event due to COVID.”