Articles - Pig and Whistle, The (Series) (1967-1977)

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Pig and Whistle, The

Origin of the Name of the Show

From the Coffee Break column by Bill Trebilco as published in the Winnipeg Free Press on Sep 30, 1968.

JUST ONE WEEK AGO I described what I thought to be the origin of the inn name, Pig and Whistle, also the name of the popular CTV show which comes to Winnipeg, original sets and all, for two auditorium performances, Oct. 21 and 22. I ascribed the name to an old English inn custom of sending the pot-boy down to the cellar to draw a jug of beer from the "pig" ... a container smaller than a hogshead and larger than a keg ... with the warning that he keep whistling all the time so he couldn't take any sample swallows ... hence, Pig and Whistle. And the following night, on the program itself which originates in Toronto, the same explanation was given. Now both myself and Jack Johnston, producer of the program in Toronto, have another explanation for the name courtesy of a very well-known St. James resident and Winnipeg lawyer, Edward H. Crawford.

And Ed Crawford has put some personal research into the name. He's come up with an origin that goes much farther back in history than any English term of the 1700s or 1800s.

ACCORDING TO ED, the public house name is a corruption of an Anglo-Saxon term, Piggen Wassail. Piggen was the Anglo-Saxon for a milking pail. In beer houses of the period, the beverage was placed before the guests in a pail from which they helped themselves, filling their "pigs" or mugs. The whistle portion Mr. Crawford adds, was a corruption of wassail"... the Anglo-Saxon "Was hael," or "be in health." And Mr. Crawford winds up his case with the Randon House dictionary origin of the word "whistle." This is defined as akin to the Icelandic "hvisla," to whistle, or "hviskra," to whisper. And with that Mr. Crawford rests his case.

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