How Much Wood Could a Woodchuck Chuck?

02 Feb
(Wiarton Willie Statue Wiarton Ontario Canada ...

(Wiarton Willie Statue Wiarton Ontario Canada – Photo By Shari Chambers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The groundhog, also known as a woodchuck, is a rodent belonging to the group of large ground squirrels known as marmots. It is widely distributed across North America.


Groundhogs have an aggressive nature. Doug Schwartz, a zookeeper and groundhog trainer at the Staten Island Zoo, has been quoted as saying,


“They’re known for their aggression, so you’re starting from a hard place. [Their] natural impulse is to kill ’em and let God sort ’em out. You have to work to produce the sweet and cuddly.”


The name “woodchuck” has nothing to do with wood or chucking. It stems from an Algonquin name for the animal – wuchak.


Wiarton Willie is a Canadian albino groundhog who lived in Wiarton, in Bruce County, Ontario. Every Groundhog Day, February 2, Willie is part of the local Wiarton Willie Festival. His job is to predict whether there will be an early spring or not.


The story that is Willie Wiarton was born in 1956. Wiarton resident Mac McKenzie wanted to showcase his hometown to his friends, so he sent out invitations to his friends. Somehow, it came to the attention of the Toronto Star. So the newspaper sent a young journalist to investigate. The reporter made his way to Wiarton. Once there, he had some difficulty finding the celebration. After asking around town, he finally found McKenzie and his friends whooping it up at the Arlington Hotel, the local bar. The small group of friends invited him to join them.


The following day, however, the reporter lamented about the lack of a story which would cover his expenses. So McKenzie took his wife’s fur hat, went to the parking lot, dug a burrow in the snow and threw the hat in.


A picture of Mackenzie and the had were published in the February 3 edition of the Toronto Star. A year later, 50 people arrived for the Festival — among them the CBC and the Canadian Press. The Festival has taken on a life of its own, and now boasts some 10,000 visitors every year!


Wiarton Willie Groundhog Day Festival has been called “one of the most popular events in Ontario” and has been named more than once, “the world’s greatest events” by Seattle’s (now defunct). Events include dances, parades, ice hockey tournaments,curling, sleigh rides and so much more.


You can find many such winter predictions in many cities around North America: Punxsutawney Phil of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania (as featured in the movie Groundhog Day); Brandon Bob in Brandon, Manitoba; Staten Island Chuck in New York; Balzac Billie in Alberta; General Beauregard Lee in Lilburn, Georgia; Shubenacadie Sam in Nova Scotia; Gary the Groundhog in Kleinburg, Ontario – just to name a few.


Did you know …


The date could have been influenced by the celts who celebrated the midway between the winter solstice and spring equinox.


Willie and his colleagues have 22 teeth.


They can swim, climb trees and run as fast as 15 km/hour.


Farrah Fawcett, Tom Smothers, and Christie Brinkley were born on Groundhog Day.


Want more?  How about a Double Murder mystery? Want to read about it. all from the Willie’s own mouth? Or how about the rumours of Willie’s death?


Enjoy, everyone!




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11 responses to “How Much Wood Could a Woodchuck Chuck?

  1. VeronicaBud

    February 2, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    That was great! I enjoyed learning from the Did You Know section.
    I actually did not know that groundhogs have an aggressive nature. I have a picture (from 12 years ago) taken with one groundhog taking a peanut that I am holding in my mouth (I know…for some people that might be gross…I thought it was cute.) He was so gentle. He took them from my hand at first until I got comfortable to have that photo taken. This was an often visitor at my friend’s cottage up north, and he was used to the people offering him goodies. He would run on the deck, take the peanut and go, and them come back for more. I now know not to feed animals in the wild.

    • tkmorin

      February 2, 2013 at 9:57 pm

      Eh, I hand feed a chipmunk here a few times a day (well, not in the winter) so I understand! 🙂

  2. divinerush ღ

    February 2, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Hello 😀

    I hope all is well & that you’re doing good. The blog continues to give out great posts. I enjoy reading them. I want to thank you as well for following & liking my blog. Again it means so much, I hope you continue to visit & like what you read. I appreciate the support 🙂

    Good luck with your blog & everything else. I hope life only brings you the best & ton’s of joy.
    Cheers 🙂

    • tkmorin

      February 2, 2013 at 7:37 pm

      Thank you, divinerush! Such kind words … always appreciated. I have been interested in history for so long, and I believe that we all have so much to learn and be thankful for, that I get such joy writing this blog.
      And your site is no slouch! I enjoyed reading the interview, and I also like the way you encourage me to write through your own work. So yeah, you can expect me to keep visiting! :>

      • divinerush ღ

        February 2, 2013 at 10:57 pm

        History is a fantastic subject to be interested in. There’s so many stories, so many memories, there’s so much to dive into. I completely agree with you, we have so much to be thankful for & to learn, here’s to continuing that on! 🙂

        Oh thank you 🙂 You’re very sweet. So lovely to know you feel that way. I am in awh. 🙂 Happy to hear it has that affect! Writing is an amazing thing. Keep up the great work 🙂

  3. seeker

    February 2, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    The last three links are funny. Thanks for these links.

    • tkmorin

      February 2, 2013 at 6:44 pm

      You are welcome!

  4. seeker

    February 2, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Wuchak, eh. Learnt another word today. I sure hope there is no beaver around that mighty statue otherwise, that will be the demise of Willie, for sure. Can’t wait to see what the evening news will say about 6 more weeks of winter. I predict, Winter will come in April here in Vancouver. I’ll go read the other articles now about the Murder Mystery. Tata.

    • tkmorin

      February 2, 2013 at 6:34 pm

      Enjoy the links! … :>

  5. tkmorin

    February 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    Thank you … I’m glad you enjoyed it! I read that most of the time, their dens have two entrances -though it doesn’t sound like your friend’s has 🙂

  6. mionsiog

    February 2, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Thanks once again for giving me knowledge about something I would have never thought to look up. I have a ground hog that lives under my deck and the deck is so large that I can’t get to him/her. Every now and then I will catch a glimpse of it as it makes its way to my garden or is just walking around the yard like if it was his. The minute I open the door to go out it runs back under the deck and so I just live with it. I don’t think it does much damage to plants or veg and I have enough to go around so I guess we will grow old together.
    Thanks for the info and your words.
    Take Care.


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