Tag Archives: gopher

Jeremy Woodchuck of Gemmill Park

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Jeremy Woodchuck of Gemmill Park

by Neil Carleton
Gemmill Park in Almonte is well known for the arena, curling rink, soccer field, swings, tennis court, track, and baseball diamond.  Not everyone is familiar with the woodland trails which are used in all seasons. The Millstone click

March 1958

The following short story referring to the groundhog Candlemas legend was turned in by a resident of the Gemmill Park section.

Candlemas was originally a Celtic festival marking the “cross-quarter day,” or midpoint of the season. The Sun is halfway on its advance from the winter solstice to the spring equinox. The Christian church expanded this festival of light to commemorate the purification of the Virgin Mary and her presentation of the infant Jesus in the Temple. Candlelit processions accompanied the feast day.


Since the traditional Candlemas celebration anticipated the planting of crops, a central focus of the festivities was the forecasting of either an early spring or a lingering winter. Sunshine on Candlemas was said to indicate the return of winter. Similarly, “When the wind’s in the east on Candlemas Day / There it will stick till the second of May.”


A bear brought the forecast to the people of France and England, while those in Germany looked to a badger for a sign. In the 1800s, German immigrants to Pennsylvania brought their Candlemas legends with them. Finding no badgers but lots of groundhogs, or woodchucks, there, they adapted the New World species to fit the lore.


Today that lore has grown into a full-blown festival, with Punxsutawney Phil presiding.

Freddie Groundhog (alias Jeremy Woodchuck), made an early season appearance in the Gemmill Park area behind *Dr. Schulte’s home Wednesday morning about 6:30. He foraged over a remarkably wide area, moving quickly over the hard-packed snow. After about three-quarters of an hour of surface manoeuvres, which delighted the children of the area but not necessarily their sleepy parents, he submerged again under the wild Sherry trees for who knows how long. This is an interesting animal, somewhat playful if not bothered; and with at least two and often three or four separate entrances to his nest. Webster lists the groundhog and the woodchuck as identical, the names having arisen originally from the Algonquin Indian names wuchak or fisher. He is a rodent, and hence a cousin to rats and mice. His generic name is marmota monax.

Incidentally, he had plenty of chances to see his shadow on Candlemas day this year, and one wonders why he was out again so early. One possibility is that he is an expectant father and, behaving in characteristic fashion, was not quite steady enough to devise a way of awakening his neighbour at 6.30 a.m.!

An elderly man and a 10-year-old girl both suffered brain concussions Thursday evening in an accident here involving a bicycle driven by the girl. Eighty-four-year-old William “Shorty” Stevens and little Diane Wright were admitted to Rosamond Hospital as a result of the mishap, which occurred at the intersection of Union and Main Streets. The girl is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Alex Wright of Almonte. The elderly man also sustained extensive head scratches in addition to the concussion. His condition was Thursday night described as “poor ” It is expected that the youngster will be released from hospital within a few days. According to police both persons were thrown to the pavement after Mr. Stevens was struck by a bicycle driven by the girl.* Dr. Otto Schulte, of Almonte, was called to the scene and or dered the injured persons removed to hospital. Con. Roy Dawson of the Almonte detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police Investigated the accident.

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada25 Sep 1953, Fri  •  Page 8

Do Gopher’s Regrow Tails? Tales of the Depression

When Otters Attack — in North Elmsley in 1875

The Wolves of Lanark County

A Bird Weighing How Much was Found Near Barry’s Bay?

Those in charge of the Gemmill Park must erect WHAT??? You will not believe this!

The Gemmill Well in Almonte 1951

So What Happened to Miss Winnifred Knight Dunlop Gemmill’s Taxidermy Heads?

Gemmill Park Skating Rink May Be Illegal–1947

Jessie Leach Gemmill -The “Claire Fraser” of Lanark

History of McLaren’s Depot — by Evelyn Gemmill and Elaine DeLisle

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From Gemmil’s Creek to the Riel Rebellion

Orchids in Gemmils Swamp June 1901

The Gemmill Well in Almonte 1951

Do Gopher’s Regrow Tails? Tales of the Depression

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Do Gopher’s Regrow Tails? Tales of the Depression

May 1887 –Almonte Gazette

The municipality of Qu’Appelle offered fifty cents for gophers’ tails. The clerk of the municipality has been kept busy paying out the bounty. Parties who were out shooting lately got quite a number of gophers minus their tails.The explanation now is that the Indians snare the gophers, take the tails off, and let the gopher go so as to grow another tail for next year’s bounty. The untutored children of the prairie gopher of our municipality are in good shape .

In the early history of our province, there were all kinds of gophers, millions of them. The municipalities tried to get rid of them, as they were destroying the crops. So they offered any person one cent for every gopher tail. In the era of the Depression, there were very few students that had any money. So it was a good thing for them to kill gophers. Kill 10 gophers, they made 10 cents, and 10 cents in those days would’ve bought a lot.

So every person who lived through the Depression has killed gophers, drowned them. Their tails are sensitive and are used as feelers when the animals travel backward in their burrows.Amateur biology tried to see if they’d grow another gopher tail and they’d nip off the tail the gopher had and let them free. They would watch out, and see if the gopher would mutate another gopher tail, but they never did. They even split gopher tails to try outdo each other in the municipality.

Edmonton Journal
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
08 Apr 1933, Sat  •  Page 2
Calgary Herald
Calgary, Alberta, Alberta, Canada
13 May 1925, Wed  •  Page 11–
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The Bismarck Tribune
Bismarck, North Dakota
21 Oct 1984, Sun  •  Page 45

Related reading

Documenting Carleton Place — George Smith

Sometimes You Just Need to Remember– Reggie Bowden

Don’t Bring Your Guns to Town!

When Otters Attack — in North Elmsley in 1875

The Wolves of Lanark County

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  1. Angry Mobs, Wolves and Bloodsuckers –Selby LakeShades of The Godfather in Dr. Preston’s Office in Carleton PlaceIs This Story Just Up a Tree?
  2. A Bird Weighing How Much was Found Near Barry’s Bay?