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Wiarton Willie Has Died & A 'Big Brown Understudy' Will Take His Place Next Groundhog Day

Ontarians looked to this little guy to tell them if there would be an early spring.

Wiarton Willie Has Died & A 'Big Brown Understudy' Will Take His Place Next Groundhog Day

Ontario's beloved little albino groundhog, Wiarton Willie, has died.

South Bruce Peninsula Mayor, Janice Jackson, posted an announcement about the famed groundhog's death on November 23.

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

Each Groundhog Day, Ontarians look to Wiarton Willie's prediction to see whether the province will be graced with an early spring or if we're set to have six more weeks of winter. The groundhog told the weather based on whether or not he could see his shadow.

"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," Mayor Jackson said.

Next year's Groundhog Day festivities will apparently be held a little later than usual, on Saturday, February 5, which the announcement says has changed from the original posted date of February 2. This year marks the 66th anniversary of the Wiarton Willie Festival.

According to the City, the legend behind Groundhog Day started with "three wise groundhogs" — Grundoon, Muldoon and Sand Dune — who broke hibernation to tell a South Bruce local of a white groundhog who would be the go-to guide for predicting the fate of the weather.

"The white groundhog would be known for his uncanny ability to correctly predict the timing of spring and he would emerge each February 2nd to announce his prediction to those who spoke Groundhogese," says the city's website. "As Willie's fame has grown, so has the Festival which has matured to become the largest winter festival in Bruce County."