Manitoba Merv: The 26-year history of a Groundhog Day legend
Manitoba Merv is a staple of the winter season.
According to Bob Laidler, director emeritus of the Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre, the groundhog arrived in 1993, but it took a bit of time before he revealed his season-predicting ability.
“It took us a while before we could communicate but he told us about his special talent and we thought that was really useful,” said Laidler.
Merv began his storied career as an actor in puppet shows, but has since evolved into a Manitoba legend with a near flawless prediction rate.
“He’s been right about 98 per cent of the time, he’s only made one mistake so far,” said Jacques Bourgeois, who works marketing and communications for the Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre.
One year, due to a moving mix-up, Merv actually went missing, so a replacement was purchased.
Eventually the original groundhog was found, so Merv’s replacement became his girlfriend. Thus, Manitoba Maria was born.
“But it only lasted a couple years, so I guess it didn’t work out between them,” said Bourgeois.
Merv’s big day is coming up this Saturday, when his shadow (or lack thereof) will tell Manitobans if there will be an early spring this year.
As for the other 364 days of the year, Merv hibernates in his cardboard cave until the next Feb. 2 rolls around.
“I’m really happy that Merv found us because it puts a bit of fun into February 2nd,” said Laidler.
“It’s World Wetlands Day, it’s often very cold and it’s nice to be able to get out and celebrate the fun stuff and I think Merv represents the fun in Manitoba.”
- With files from CTV's Alex Brown.