Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Canadian Groundhog Day

Canadian Groundhog Day is an exciting festival held every year around the first weekend in June. Slightly different from American Groundhog Day, if a groundhog comes out of its burrow and sees a Formula One Grand Prix car racing by at 200 MPH than winter is officially over.

I spent last weekend in Montreal at the Canadian Grand Prix - home of North America's only Formula One Race. I don't go for the races - I go for the groundhogs.
The race itself is held at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on the man-made island of Ile Notre Dame in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. The island was created with 15 million tons of earth excavated to create the Montreal Metro back in 1965.
The island is accessed by the Metro (which runs under the river) or by one of three bridges. The race course, highlighted in blue below, is speckled with grandstands that seat close to 250,000 people who get to watch the "Groundhog Festival" over the course of three warm June days. Apparently the "festival" begins weeks prior when park crews round up hundreds of ground hogs from Ile Notre Dame and bring them to the neighboring St. Helen's Island, where they most likely wait for nightfall and return by the rodentload across the bridge. Those that escape capture or have snuck back across preform daring feats of courage/stupidity by darting out onto the race course in front of some of the fastest wheeled vehicles on the planet.
Remarkably, fans who come to see high speed wrecks were collectively horrified each time the rodents made an appearance. TV crews helped fuel the spectacle by showing each incident up on the 20 or so jumbotrons around the track. No groundhogs were harmed.
For your viewing pleasure - I present Canadian Ground Hog Day.




8 comments:

  1. Everything is different in Canada, ehh?

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  2. They have a kid on a snow sled on the $5 right next to a former Prime Minister! I want to see a kid on the $20 with an Ipod next to Andrew Jackson.

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  3. dude - that's a beaver

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  4. haha - no. It's a Groundhog - AKA Woodchuck. The announcer called it a marmot "or whatever". Closely related to a marmot, but it is a groundhog.

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  5. Marmot en Francais, no doubt...

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  6. Je ne sais pas. Mais Marmota monax est le nom scientifique de Groundhog.

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  7. Though your french may be near correct, never start a sentence with "but". haha Love this one. This is FAN-tastic!
    -Fire Flower

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  8. rodents and race cars....rodents and race cars..

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