Shubenacadie Sam looks around after emerging from his burrow at the wildlife park in Shubenacadie, N.S. on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. Sam saw his shadow and predicts six more weeks of winter. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Shubenacadie Sam looks around after emerging from his burrow at the wildlife park in Shubenacadie, N.S. on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. Sam saw his shadow and predicts six more weeks of winter. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Canada’s weather-predicting groundhogs call for early spring

As usual, Shubenacadie Sam was the first groundhog in North America to make a prediction

Canada’s best-known weather-predicting groundhogs called for an early spring Tuesday as they delivered their annual forecasts over video due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though one was missing in action.

Nova Scotia’s most famous groundhog, Shubenacadie Sam, was the first to make his prediction, hesitantly emerging from his pint-sized barn and apparently failing to see his shadow.

At exactly 8 a.m. local time, the door to Sam’s enclosure was opened, but the pudgy rodent refused to come out at first.

With a winter storm descending on the Maritimes overnight, there was a steady snowfall as Sam emerged from his den and waddled a few paces from the front door.

The annual tradition at the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park north of Halifax usually attracts scores of schoolchildren, but not this year. There were few onlookers Tuesday as the event was broadcast live on Facebook to comply with COVID-19 health protocols.

As usual, Shubenacadie Sam was the first groundhog in North America to make a prediction.

In Val d’Espoir on Quebec’s Gaspe peninsula, Fred La Marmotte was also reluctant to leave his miniature cabin.

When the rodent did finally emerge during the livestreamed event, his handler held him to his ear and said he had predicted an early spring.

In Wiarton, Ont., the community’s famous albino groundhog, Wiarton Willie, was nowhere to be seen as officials called an early spring after throwing a fur hat into the air — a move they said hearkens back to the tradition’s first edition more than 60 years ago.

“The committee decided to pay tribute to the first prediction (which did not include a groundhog, only a fur hat) because it was the 65th anniversary this year and we were not able to host a live event due to COVID,” the town’s deputy clerk said in an email.

The spring forecast was delivered by Janice Jackson, the mayor of the Town of South Bruce Peninsula, in a pre-recorded video that also included a brief history of the event.

Meanwhile, those south of the border were told to expect six more weeks of winter as Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow.

The critter performed his Groundhog Day duties over livestream, with more than 15,000 viewers tuning in at one point. No spectators were allowed in person due to the pandemic, but cardboard cutouts were included to mimic their presence.

A member of Phil’s “inner circle” noted the uniqueness of the past year.

“People have been referencing Groundhog Day. It has felt like at times we’re all living the same day over and over again,” one of the members said. “Groundhog Day also shows us that the monotony ends. The cycle will be broken.”

According to folklore, if a groundhog doesn’t see his shadow on Groundhog Day, spring-like weather will soon arrive. However, if the pug-nosed critter spots his shadow, winter will drag on.

Folklorists say the Groundhog Day ritual may have something to do with Feb. 2 landing midway between winter solstice and spring equinox, but no one knows for sure.

In medieval Europe, farmers believed that if hedgehogs emerged from their burrows to catch insects, that was a sure sign of an early spring.

However, when Europeans settled in eastern North America, the groundhog was substituted for the hedgehog.

-with files from The Associated Press

The Canadian Press

News and Weather

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw acknowledged that Friday would be one year since the first case of COVID-19 was identified in the province. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Three more Red Deer COVID-19 deaths, 331 active cases in Alberta

Red Deer is down to 362 active cases of the virus

An undated handout photo of Minister Doug Sweitzer and MLA Jackie Lovely. (Photo submitted)
Minister Schweitzer: Positioning Alberta as leader in industries will move province to recovery

Doug Schweitzer, minister of job, economy and innovation, speaks to Camrose chamber

Alberta's chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says Albertans need to keep making safe choices to start bending the curve back down. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
One new COVID-19 death in Red Deer, 257 additional cases province-wide

Red Deer sits at 459 active cases of the virus

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Thursday that the province may consider a regional approach to loosening COVID-19 restrictions if numbers continue to decline. (photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Province further easing health restrictions

Numbers of people hospitalized and in intensive care has dropped dramatically, says premier

A health-care worker looks at a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Palais de Congress site as Quebec begins mass vaccinations based on age across the province, Monday, March 1, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Nearly 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses arriving in Canada this week: Anand

Anita Anand says she’s received assurances from the vaccine manufacturer

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Caitlin Kraft, the sister of Jeffery Kraft, stands third from the left, holding a sign calling for the maximum sentence for Campbell, who is charged with manslaughter. (Photo by Paul Cowley)
Judge again rejects submission of 7-year sentence for slain Ponoka man

Tyler John Campbell charged with second-degree murder for December 2019 homicide

Backcountry skiers are dwarfed by the mountains as they make their way along a mountain ridge near McGillivray Pass Lodge located in the southern Chilcotin Mountains of British Columbia, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012. Avalanche Canada has issued a special warning to people who use the backcountry in the mountains of western Alberta and eastern British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Avalanche Canada special warning for mountains in western Alberta, eastern B.C.

Avalanche Canada also says everyone in a backcountry party needs essential rescue gear

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

hands
The call is out in Rimbey to sign on with a group that is all about building connections

‘Already, we are building a network where we can rely on each other and help each other out’

FILE - Dolly Parton arrives at the 61st annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Grammy-winning singer, actor and humanitarian posted a video on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, of her singing just before getting her COVID-19 vaccine shot. Parton donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee for coronavirus research. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
‘Vaccine, vaccine’: Dolly sings ‘Jolene’ rewrite before shot

The Grammy-winning legend turned 75 this year

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland speaks about the Fiscal update during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday November 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
COVID-19: Wage and rent subsidies, lockdown support to be extended until June

Chrystia Freeland says now is not time to lower levels of support

Many rural seniors are having to travel a long way to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Stettler residents are being told to go to Red Deer, Drumheller or Camrose. (Black Press file photo).
Rural central Alberta seniors have to travel far to get vaccines

Stettler residents are being directed to Red Deer, Drumheller or Camrose clinics

Most Read