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Arthur Awards: The understated generosity of snow removal

Barbara Quigley is a single mother of six in New Brunswick and after the ice storms this winter she kept being surprised by her neighbour who would come over and shovel her driveway. A small thing, but it meant a great deal to her.
A well-dressed Halifax man snowblows in front of his home. (Mark Pineo)

Barbara Quigley is a single mother of six in New Brunswick and after the ice storms this winter she kept being surprised by her neighbour who would come over and shovel her driveway. A small thing, but it meant a great deal to her.

She phoned in to Cross Country Checkup to nominate her neighbour Paul leBlanc for an Arthur Award.

Barbara Quigley is a single mother of six children. When her neighbour Paul leBlanc shovels her driveway, she feels overwhelmed by the immense generosity of such a small act of kindness. 2:29

Barbara Quigley: I have this most wonderful neighbour. I've known this neighbour for 10 years. He has his own business where he makes things out of wood. He gets a lot of locals and tourists buying his products. He makes swinging benches and garbage cans. One time he made this garbage can and he just gave it to me.

In the past three years, I've been going through a rough divorce and he's been very sympathetic. For the past three years, he's been doing my driveway with his snowblower. The thing you have to understand is that I have six children, and he's been very sympathetic to that because his wife had five children.

The interesting thing is his driveway is four times the length of mine and yet still when he finishes his, he'll come over and do mine. We just had the ice storm here in New Brunswick. Right after that, four days with no power… he still came over and did my driveway. We just had another batch of snow and again he did my driveway.

I'm so thankful for people like him. It's people like Paul LeBlanc of Galloway, New Brunswick, that make Canada great.

Duncan McCue: What does it mean to you that he makes that gesture? And it doesn't sound like you even ask for it.

BQ: That's just it. I didn't ask for it. He just surprises me with it.

The other day when he was finishing, I approached him and I said, "You know, I have nothing that I can give you."

He said, "I don't want anything in return." He understands how difficult it is to be a parent. He's just supporting his neighbour out of the goodness of his heart.

His wife is just as wonderful too. There's so many wonderful people, but he really stands out to me. Otherwise I would be stranded in my house with six kids and nowhere to go with the vehicle, or if they got sick I'd be snowed in. It's just a huge load off my mind.

Barbara Quigley's and Duncan McCue's comments have been edited and condensed. This online segment was prepared by Ayesha Barmania on Feb. 20, 2017.

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