Ontario mourning the death of famed groundhog Wiarton Willie

Wiarton Willie, the Nostradamus of the north, has died.

But according to Tuesday's announcement by South Bruce Peninsula Mayor Janice Jackson, the fourth in the line of weather-predicting groundhogs has actually been gone for quite some time.

Rumours had been swirling since Groundhog Day, 2021, when a pre-recorded video featuring Wiarton Willie prompted concerns about the rodent's health. These fears proved correct, confirmed by today's news that the famed groundhog passed away before the most recent Groundhog Day due to a tooth abscess.

"Our albino prognosticator sadly passed away leaving his big brown understudy in charge of making the 2022 prediction," the statement reads.

The original Wiarton Willie passed away at 22 back in 1999, his replacement following with a much shorter tenure before dying in 2006. Wiarton Willie III died at 13 in 2017, replaced by the two-year-old Wee Willie that same year, becoming Wiarton Willie IV.

After hosting the annual Groundhog Day celebration virtually with a pre-recorded prediction (and apparently a deceased groundhog) in 2021, the upcoming event on February 2nd is expected to be a return to normal conditions.

"We look forward to gathering together for a live event in 2022. It will be great to be able to celebrate Willie's prediction together, as a community," says Mayor Jackson.

People will gather in person in the community of Wiarton to see if the new Wiarton Willie V predicts six more weeks of winter or the early arrival of spring.

Maybe it's climate change or the former Willie's personal bias, but four of the last five Groundhog Days have gotten us early spring predictions.

Let's hope the new guy is as generous as his predecessor.

Lead photo by

Kevin M Klerks

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