Wiarton, Ontario, Canada: Wiarton Willie, Weather-Forecasting Groundhog

Wiarton Willie is Ontario's official Groundhog Day prognosticator. He can be seen year-round in his special enclosure, designed by the Toronto Zoo.
Address:
400 William St., Wiarton, ON, Canada
Directions:
Just east of Berford St./Hwy 6 in Bluewater Park. From Berford turn east onto William St. Drive two blocks, then turn left onto Willie's Way.
Phone:
519-534-3111
Admission:
Free
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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Albino groundhog.

Wiarton Willie, Weather-Forecasting Groundhog

Wiarton Willie is Canada's equivalent of Punxsutawney Pete. Unlike Pete, Willie has the distinction of being an albino groundhog.

In 1956 Mac McKenzie, a local resident, wanted to promote Wiarton, so he sent out letters inviting people to come to town for a Groundhog Festival. A reporter from the Toronto Star newspaper showed up and was surprised to find out that not many people in town even knew about the event. After tracking down Mr. McKenzie he told him he needed something to take back to justify his travel expenses, so Mac got his wife's fur hat, stuck it in the snow, and had the reporter photograph it.

Wiarton Willie was born. It wasn't until 1977 that an actual groundhog appeared at the event. The average lifespan for groundhogs in the wild is about four years, but because Willie lives in a special enclosure designed by the Toronto Zoo, he is currently eight years old, and his predecessor lived for 15 years. He has become a very popular tourist attraction for the town. He can be seen year-round in the visitor center at Bluewater Park, which has four cartoony fiberglass statues of Willie as well.

[signmanjoe, 06/05/2015]

Nearby Offbeat Places

The Corran RuinsThe Corran Ruins, Wiarton, ON, Canada - 1 mi.
Big Upholstered ChairBig Upholstered Chair, Wiarton, ON, Canada - 3 mi.
Tiny ChurchTiny Church, Shallow Lake, ON, Canada - 10 mi.
In the region:
Dutch Liberation Fountain, Big Wooden Shoes, Goderich, ON, Canada - 74 mi.

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