Official Tourism Website of Wiarton, Ontario

The Story of Wiarton Willie

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How it began

It all started back in 1957, when a jovial local by the name of Mac McKenzie decided that his little town of Wiarton could use some 'livening up' in the bleak months of winter. He sent out invitations to all of his city friends, welcoming them to a Groundhog Day celebration in his hometown.

Most knew Mac for what he was, a long time joker, and ignored the invite - and the long trek north. However, the invitation caught the attention of one reporter and photographer from the Toronto Daily Star, Frank Teskey. 

What Celebration?

When Frank Teskey, the reporter dispatched by the Toronto Daily Star, first arrived in Wiarton, he asked for directions to the Groundhog celebration. Local residents were confused, what celebration? It didn't take them long to figure out what was up when the reporter mentioned the name 'Mac McKenzie'. 

A story was born

The reporter was directed to, at that time, the Arlington Hotel where, sure enough, Mac was sharing a few drinks with a dozen or so friends. When Teskey asked 'What's the deal?', Mac said 'This is it!'. 

Teskey joined the party, but the next day he knew he couldn't go back to Toronto without a story for the paper.

The group went outside to the snow a dug a little hole. They looked around for something that looked like a groundhog, then grabbed a white fur hat off of a lady and threw it into the hole - and snapped a photo. A story was born! 

Still celebrating

More than sixty years later and the little town of Wiarton is still celebrating. Statues, murals, signs and more help to celebrate Wiarton Willie all year long. And of course, each February 2nd, Groundhog Day, many folks travel early morning to Wiarton or tune into the news to hear Willie's prediction of either an early spring, or six more weeks of winter. The prediction is broadcasted globally. 

You can learn more about the fesitval here

The story lives on...

As for Mac, he passed away this year, but his spirit will live on in everything that is Wiarton Willie. 

Wiarton Willie is special in that he is the world's only albino prognosticating groundhog! That, and of course, he's never, ever wrong!

You can visit Wiarton Willie year round at his home beautiful Bluewater Park