Willie, an albino groundhog, came out each Groundhog Day (Feb. 2) to prognosticate whether or not spring would make an early arrival. Last year, 2016, was the 60th anniversary of the Wiarton Willie Festival that has drawn thousands of visitors over the years and media from every corner of the province of Ontario.
"It's a sad day for Wiarton," said Mayor Janice Jackson. "Willie was a wonderful ambassador and we will be forever grateful as he put us on the map. We did give him 13 years however, as life span for a groundhog is approximately four years and less than that for an albino."
Willie lived in a 'house' designed by the Toronto Zoo and that was thermostatically controlled and where visitors could visit and see the star attraction at any time.
According to Jackson, there is an understudy, 'Wee Willie' who will assume the responsibility of his predecessor. Wiarton will be holding a 'send-off funeral' for Willie on September 30th at Blue Water Park in Wiarton.