First, what is a ground hog? A ground hog is a large rodent belonging to the ground squirrels known as marmots. They are also known as woodchucks or whistlepigs. In the US they are well known as Punxsutawney Phil.
What’s all the Fuss About
Well it seems that this folklore dates back over 200 years to 1887. Every February 2nd when our furry friend comes out of his burrow to predict the weather. If there is a shadow, there will be 6 more weeks of winter. No shadow, then Spring is arriving early.
Fame and Hollywood
For us here in Canada, we have named our Groundhog, Wiarton Willie. Where every year, Bruce County in Wiarton, Ontario, hold an annual festival. Many Canadians have used this date to signal it’s time to take down your Christmas decorations.
In the US, our famed Punxsutawney Phil was a feature movie starring Bill Murray, a weatherman that had to relive February 2nd over and over until he could gain some insight into his life.
In Other Parts of the Canada
It is thought that the very first groundhog to surface out of his burrow was named, this tradition got started in 1956. But let’s not forget Shubenacadie Sam. Other area’s in Canada have him listed as Gary the Groundhog in Ontario, Brandon Bob in Manitoba and Balzac Billy in Alberta.
“Balzac Billy, the "Prairie Prognosticator", is a "groundhog" mascot who prognosticates weather on Groundhog Day. He lives in Balzac, Alberta, 8 km north of Calgary, Alberta.” He also happens to be of the two legged variety, a man dressed in costume.
Connections to History
What does Aspen Crossing and our furry weather predictor have in common? Well, the Aspen Crossing Dining Car, dates to the same year, 1887 and once belonged to Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker during his campaigning days.
The Groundhog Day tradition has its roots with early German settlers, when determining when they could begin planting their crops that coming season. Aspen Crossing is a small hamlet in Southern Alberta that was settled by immigrants from Europe.
Preserving our Heritage
Early settlers have brought us so many traditions that founded and shaped this country over the past 150 years. Aspen Crossing is proud to be able to help preserve our heritage. Our tagline: Come Celebrate Our Railway Ties. We celebrate the railways that moved across the country and connected so many lives. Perhaps that’s why we have a few versions of Ground Hog’s across the country . . .
To celebrate, we’ve extended our EarlyBird 2017 to the end of February.
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