02 February 2011

Balzac Billy Predicts Six More Weeks of Winter for Alberta

The resident groundhog of Balzac, Alberta has predicted another six weeks of winter.  Apparently he saw his shadow and returned to his hole.  Had he stayed out and lingered, the prediction would have stated an early spring, as the groundhogs in Eastern Canada indicated.  With the weather the eastern portion of this fine country is currently experiencing, they surely were happy to hear of this news.  In Ontario today, the winter storm has necessitated school closures amidst the weather warnings.

Groundhog Day was inspired by an old Scottish couplet: "If Candlemas Day is bright and clear/ There'll be two winters in the year."


The tradition of watching a groundhog to see if it sees its shadow reportedly began in 1887 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania by German settlers.

It was 1956 in Canada when Wiarton Willie was known throughout households for early February predictions of winter duration. Wiarton is a pretty town of 2,300 on the Bruce Peninsula between Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. There are other groundhogs across this country including Schubenacadie Sam in Nova Scotia,Wiarton Willie and Gary the Groundhog in Ontario, Brandon Bob in Manitoba and Balzac Billy in Alberta..

Groundhogs are actually woodchucks or marmots, and are members of the squirrel family.  Quick facts from Cornell University:
-Woodchuck and groundhog are common terms for the same animal.
-Scientific name: Marmota monax.
-Woodchucks can climb trees and also swim.
-Groundhogs in the wild eat green plants, such as dandelion greens, clover, plantain and grasses.
-They feed heavily in summer, storing fat for winter hibernation.
-By February, hibernating woodchucks have lost as much as half their body weight.

Tuck in folks for another six weeks of winter which, honestly, is at least as long as any other winter here!

5 comments:

EG Wow said...

Wiarton Willie did NOT see his shadow today, so yay! Spring is coming soon! (Hmmmm. Why am I such a dis-believer about this?) :)

joo said...

I wonder what about here - can't wait for spring and really would love to believe that it's coming soon!
Hugs
j.

Sheila said...

I'm always happy if it doesn't snow in May. remember all that heavy wet snow a few Mays ago? Hope springs etearnal!

Rambling Woods said...

Oh well...thanks for adding to my groundhog knowledge.....but I think we both are in for much more winter weather....Michelle

Shyrlene said...

Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow yesterday, so - in theory - we will have an early spring. (it's rumored that his success rate is about 38%!!). ...they are cute to look at... Thanks for sharing the history.

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