Warning: call_user_func_array() expects parameter 1 to be a valid callback, no array or string given in /home/content/70/10053470/html/joelklebanoff/joelsblog2/wp-includes/class-wp-hook.php on line 298

Joel Klebanoff: Stuff & Nonsense

To worry is to be. To be is to worry.

A Groundhog Willie

As I write these words Groundhog Day is almost upon us. My blog statistics tell me that most of my readers are American so you might not know this, but we in Canada also celebrate Groundhog Day. However, rather than depending on the famous Punxsutawney Phil, we have our own groundhog prognosticator. His name-I’m not making this up-is Wiarton Willie. Wiarton is a small town in the Province of Ontario. The Province of Ontario is in Canada. If you look at a map, Canada is that big, frozen blob on top of the United States. We like it on top.

Of course, Wiarton Willie and Punxsutawney Phil aren’t the only Groundhog Day groundhogs. For example, New York City’s official groundhog is Pothole Pete. It’s true. Google it if you don’t believe me.

You don’t hear much about Pothole Pete and I have a theory about why that is. I haven’t confirmed this personally, but I have it on very good authority that our Willie is much bigger than their Peter. If ours looks smaller its’ only because it’s much colder up here so our Willie experiences some shrinkage. I think their Peter is embarrassed about being smaller, which is why he tends to stay out of the limelight.

We need our own groundhog because Punxsutawney Phil has nothing to tell Canadians about the seasons. Legend has it that if Phil pops out of his hole on February 2 and doesn’t see his shadow, spring is just around the corner. But if he sees his shadow he bounds back into his hole and there will be six more weeks of winter.

This doesn’t work for us. For most Canadians, with the exception of people living on the west coast, who enjoy a more temperate climate and earlier springs, if on February 2 we’re promised six more weeks of winter, we rejoice. That is an early spring.

Here’s how Groundhog Day works in Canada: In Wiarton, Willie thrusts his head up quickly and forcefully through his hole to break the ice covering it. He, like Phil, uses the seeing or not seeing of his shadow rule to make his prediction on the timing of spring, but because it is invariably well below the freezing point outside-bitterly so-he lunges back down into his warm hole just as quickly whether he sees his shadow or not. He then thrusts in and out of his hole repeatedly to 1) check that he is not imagining things and it really is that frigging cold, and 2) verify his prediction about the distant arrival of spring because you wouldn’t want to get something like that wrong. A lot of Canadians are counting on their Willie.

(As an aside, is it just my sick mind or is my blog going to be slapped with a “restricted” rating if I keep talking about our Willie thrusting in and out of a warm hole?)

If Wiarton Willie sees his shadow it does not mean that we are in for six more weeks of winter. Instead, it means that, were it not for the retractable roof on Toronto’s baseball stadium, the Blue Jays would be running the bases wearing down-filled parkas and snowshoes for the first few weeks of home games. That would slow the game down somewhat and baseball is a slow enough game as it is.

And that’s what Groundhog Day is all about here in Canada.

bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark


Categorised as: Canada


  1. nonamedufus says:

    (sniff) Makes me proud to be Canadian, Joel. Let’s raise our Willie high. Oh, yeah, about that Blue Jays in the snow thing, if memory serves me well they played their first ever season opener in 1977 in the snow at Exhibition Stadium. Where was Willie when we needed him!?

  2. nonamedufus:Yes, indeed, let’s raise out Willie high, but, while we might be proud of our Willie, let’s never forget that our national animal is the beaver. Damn, I just realized that my country has much more fun than I do.

  3. ettarose says:

    I had really wicked thoughts while reading this post. You Canadians are something else.

  4. ettarose: Inducers of wicked thoughts; yup, that’s Canadians’ claim to fame. It’s not much to be proud of, but we do what we can.

  5. David says:

    I’m just not sure about this tale. About that link…Wiarton Willie looks more like a guinea pig and Miss Mayor looks more like the groundhog…or maybe a beaver.

  6. David: You doubt the tale?! Would I lie to you? And I absolutely refuse to get drawn into a discussion of whether Miss Mayor looks like a beaver. I’ve already jeopardized my blog’s GP rating with this post.

  7. marvelgoose says:

    If I pushed my Willie up out of the ice in Canada, I imagine it would quickly shrink to nothing… and then go looking for a beaver to help it warm up.

  8. marvelgoose: If so, you’re entitled to honorary Canadian citizenship. That’s the way Willies do things up here.

  9. Lidian says:

    There will always be six more weeks of winter up here, no matter what Willie sees or doesn’t see. As long as he doesn’t call in the army, we’ll probably be all right.

  10. Lidian: When you say, “There will always be six more weeks of winter up here …,” I hope that you mean that on Groundhog Day every year there will always be six more weeks of winter, not that no matter what day of the year it is there will always be six more weeks of winter. If we’ve moved into a state of endless winter I think that would be enough to get me to finally move from Toronto, despite having lived here all my life so far.

  11. dana says:

    I rarely read the comments on blogs but I just finished reading your answer to Lidian. You are one sharp dude. I admire the way your brain works.

  12. dana: Aw shucks, thanks.

  13. Mona says:

    good god joel…you are too funny…love your post!

  14. Mona: Just to clarify, when you say “funny” you’re talking about funny as in humorous, not funny as in weird, right? Maybe it’s just my low self-esteem, but I suspect that when women call me funny, humorous is not usually what they are talking about. It’s not easy being me. Glad you loved the post.

  15. Mona says:

    yep, funny as in very humorous…maybe a little weird but i like that (:

  16. Johnny R says:

    If you take into effect the size of the women there I can see where he would enjoy being on top. And considering temperature, must be hell having all that Willie go to waste.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read previous post:
Mathematical Oddity

Here's an interesting, but little-known oddity from the world of mathematics. Feel free to try it for yourself and prove...