Quebec’s beloved Fred la Marmotte dies, In Val-d’Espoir, Quebec, Fred la marmotte, known as the furry oracle of the region, was discovered dead overnight on Thursday, just hours before he was scheduled to foretell whether spring would arrive early or late.
The depressing news was revealed by the Groundhog Day event’s organiser in Val-d’Espoir on Thursday after around 40 minutes of entertainment that included music and dancing.
In front of a multitude of onlookers, a sombre Roberto Blondin observed, “In life, the only thing that’s definite is that nothing is certain.
“Well, this year it’s true. It’s true and it’s unfortunate. I announce to you the death of Fred.”
Blondin told he found the lifeless animal overnight when he tried to wake him. He said he had “no vital signs” and figures Fred passed away in late fall or early December, during hibernation, at the age of nine.
Changing the tone, Blondin said Fred loved children and would have wanted a child to fill in for him Thursday.
A little audience member sporting a groundhog hat was then summoned up to the stage and given a plush groundhog. He said winter will last another six weeks.
Everyone in the audience was startled to hear of the rodent’s passing, according to Renée Laurendeau, a representative for the annual Groundhog Day celebration who identifies herself as Fred’s press agent.
But for a groundhog, he had lived a long and prosperous life. He replaced his father, Gros Fred, and predicted the coming of spring with greater accuracy than some weather forecasters, according to Laurendeau.
“He was awesome,” Laurendeau said. “He gave awesome services, awesome prediction — 80 per cent success rate but I guess it had to come to an end.”
There will be a new groundhog next year — Fred Junior, one of Fred la marmotte’s sons — who will be ready to make his prediction in order to continue the tradition, assured Blondin.
No funeral arrangements have been announced for Fred.
Meanwhile, two of Canada’s most famous groundhog prognosticators have made conflicting calls about spring’s arrival.
While Shubenacadie Sam, Nova Scotia’s most renowned groundhog, reportedly spotted her shadow this morning as she emerged from a snow-covered enclosure at a wildlife park north of Halifax, Ontario’s Wiarton Willie has predicted an early spring.
On Groundhog Day, if a groundhog sees its shadow, it is said that winter will last longer. However, spring-like weather will soon arrive if it doesn’t notice its shadow.