No Business Like Snow Business

When I first glanced at the name of Canadian Tire’s winter-themed kindness campaign, I honestly thought it was called “Shove It Forward.” This made a strange kind of sense to me: It could have been an emphatic message about assertively, maybe even quite forcefully, paying the good deed forward.

Of course, the campaign is really about shoveling snow, not shoving kindness down people’s throats.

Here in Canada, snow shoveling is one of our official winter sports (I think). We wear uniforms (usually wool toques, deeply treaded boots and 2010 Winter Olympics mittens, slightly pilly with wear). We use specialized equipment – preferably ergonomic shovels with easy-grip handles, although any old aluminum thing will do in a pinch. And with practice, we improve and refine our technique.

Snow shoveling is not a team sport per se. But you do often see interplay, in the form of jovial comments exchanged between two adjacent driveways (“What a winter!” “You said it!”). The language rarely gets out of hand, although you may hear one or two curses aimed at a particular groundhog of note.

There are no national championships, no trophies, no medals. Snow shovelers, no matter how accomplished, never get celebrated. They don’t stand on a podium or receive flower bouquets or get asked to appear in a Nike commercial. What they do is work diligently and thoroughly to clean the white stuff away from their driveways and walkways.

And then, because this is Canadian society we’re talking about, more often than not they go next door, and similarly clear out a path for their neighbour.

The “Shovel It Forward” campaign is all about warming people’s hearts when the weather is unbearably cold. Canadians who shovel driveways for others are encouraged to report the good deed on the campaign website, or talk about it on Twitter. Canadian Tire is even supplying a number of limited-edition shovels to do the job (true to the name, you’re supposed to leave the tool with the neighbour so they can help someone else and pass it on).

With or without this campaign, Canadians everywhere are constantly shoveling it forward. On a blizzardy day, there’s no sound I love more than the distinctive rumble of a generous neighbour’s snow blower in my driveway, coming to the rescue. And my daughter and I, in turn, often wield our shovels on other people’s properties.

(These days, we do skip helping the cranky elderly neighbour I reported on here. Funny story: The winter after that episode, when I offered to help him after yet another heavy snowfall, he growled, “I don’t need help! I told you that last year!” At least his memory’s not failing.)

The shovel is almost bigger than she is. But that’s not stopping her. (Photo courtesy of Andrew McCartney / Tribal Worldwide)

The shovel is almost bigger than she is. But that’s not stopping her. (Photo courtesy of Andrew McCartney / Tribal Worldwide)

5 responses to “No Business Like Snow Business

  1. You’re right, Lisa. With or without this campaign, Canadians will continue to help their neighbours with snow shovelling. I remember this happening in my neighbourhood when I was a kid, and it happens where I live now. It’s nice that Canadian Tire has this way to make it public. Let’s hope we won’t need the shovels for too many more weeks.

  2. Hear, hear, Christine! Thanks for the thought – now you’ve made me smile.

  3. My experience in Halifax this year is a bit like shovelling backwards. Just while we were having the snow-rain-flash freeze-snow episode, we happened to have six people in the house (two storm-stayed). We did our own driveway and walk, but took care of a few others’. While we worked without much of a care, I remembered how grateful I was when I had received similar treatment, in the days when it was very difficult for me to get out of the house (small baby and partner with a disability). I would have been content at that feeling of giving back, but then the next day a beautiful carrot cake with cream cheese icing arrived. Lucky us! Especially with a few extra mouths to feed in the storm… What goes around, comes around.

  4. Ah – that is lovely! I would shovel more than a few driveways for a carrot cake (on top of the great feeling of giving, that’s gold!). My parents have more than one set of neighbours who will shovel them out from time to time. Yet no one on the street does any baking. My mother is capable of putting together a delectable plate of homemade cookies. So it’s a win-win!

  5. You’re right, Lisa. Canadians will continue to help their neighbors with snow shoveling. It’s nice that Canadian. children always like to play by snow. really I like this picture one children trying to shoveling but the shove. is bigger then her.

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