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The Wilson Manifesto

Wiarton Willie: Friendly weather prognosticator or mass murderer?

Adam Wilson
filed 10/01/03

in a month when we mourn those that were lost in the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks, it almost seems like nothing in the whole month will top that single event.

We could find out that the entire new season of Friends is only going to be a lead-in for the most-likely-to-be terrible spin-off, Joey.

We could find out that the NHL will throw a wrench into everyone's plan and decide to go on an early strike this year and therefore cause us to lose two years of hockey.

We could find out that Dalton McGinty is actually some kind of lizard alien from outer space that does eat kittens.

If we were told this, we would brush it off, saying 'Yeah, but think of those poor people that died when the Trade Towers fell.'

Then the big news breaks. The news that makes all Canadians turn their heads away from other important issues.

Wiarton Willie is dead.

Canada's answer to America's Punxsutawney Phil, it was rumoured, had passed away. This report came about after he had not been spotted in his groundhog mansion for many weeks. It wouldn't be that this unseasonable heat was killing him and he had to move into one of the rooms with air conditioning? No way. He's bloody dead.

Fearing major backlash and an impending gap in our weather predicting come March, the good people who maintain Willie released a statement through their website saying that (phew) Willie was alive and safe.


The two decoy albino groundhogs that fill in for Willie when he's not feeling up to predicting the weather had perished.


They not only perished, but also were murdered by someone who, apparently, bore a strong grudge against those two sweet albino groundhogs.

And that's not the worst eitherů

Their killer was none other than the national treasure, Wiarton Willie himself.

A recent article in the Owen Sound Sun Times dated September 19, 2003, the battle between Willie and the two fill-ins was over a tunnel from the inside of his Hobbit-hole to the "outside" where he can run freely within the limits of his cage.

The general impression gotten from the article in the Sun Times was that the two decoys were in the tunnel and Willie, the icon, filled in the exit and subsequently suffocated his two look-alikes. Not surprisingly, considering the three groundhogs were all males.

You know you live in a small town when the talk of the town is what happened to Willie (a famous groundhog) and his decoys (two not-so-famous decoys).

I'm not trying to be mean to the wonderful people of Wiarton. Far from it. This isn't meant to be an attack of the people there, or the fact that they host a large festival for a rodent. It's more the fact that this was the major news for two days this month. At least, it was in my neck of the woods.

But there have been a lot of major questions that went unanswered. Like, what is going to be done to Willie now that he not only predicts the weather, but also kills fellow albino groundhogs? Or, how do we really know if the one that remains is the real Wiarton Willie? Because I'm pretty sure that after all these years, the chances of that Willie being the Willie are pretty slim. So, are we being lied to as a public? Did one of the decoy Willies plan a mutiny and take over the weather-prognosticating job?

These are questions I want answered.

I want guarantees that if I go to Wiarton for the Groundhog Day festivities, will I see a cultural icon, or will I see someone pretending to be an icon?

These are the things we need to know as tax-paying citizens. Because we all know that a small piece of our paychecks went into building Willie's $20,000 home. Yes, you heard me right.

My solution is to have Willie set before a panel of his peers and have to explain his actions. Punxsutawney Phil will be The Judge. Eddie from Frasier will be there. So will reincarnated versions of Lassie and Mr. Ed.

This is what I want to happen.

Or you just email Willie at and express your concerns to him about the lives he took without regard or consequence. For September. For the lives lost on the World Trade Tower attacks. And now for two albino groundhogs. Raise your glasses in a fitting tribute to the deceased.

And, you might ask yourself, what did Wiarton do to remember the fallen duo. Directly from the Wiarton Willie homepage,

"A loonie was placed in the concrete that sealed the tunnel that proved fatal to two of our groundhogs. In celebration of Canada's groundhog, we took a page from our national sport hockey, and embedded this loonie in the outside pen."

Happy September.

Note: The Owen Sound Sun Times article on Willie

contrary to popular belief, adam wilson IS still alive and working with canadian content. he can be reached at

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