Skip to content

Snow Angels spread kindness and community in Collingwood and beyond

'The easiest way to describe our program is that it’s like a dating site,' says founder of site that connects snow shovellers with people who need help clearing their driveways

Collingwood, like many communities across the country, has become a part of a heartwarming initiative that started as a simple act of kindness. 

Today, SnowAngels Canada, a volunteer-based initiative founded by Lincoln McCardle in London, Ontario, has grown into a national network that connects volunteers with individuals in need during the snowy Canadian winters. 

“We started it as an experiment in kindness,” said McCardle. “If we gave someone the opportunity to help someone else in their neighbourhood, would they take it? The answer is yes.”

It all began in 2015, when McCardle lived next door to a widower in downtown London. McCardle, trying to be a good neighbour, used to shovel his neighbour's driveway everytime he shovelled his own. To his surprise, the widower asked him to stop, explaining that she was paying someone for the service.

Slightly taken aback, McCardle started thinking about how many others might need help but were hesitant to ask. 

“I remember thinking, I bet I could throw a snowball from my doorstep and hit a dozen people who would love it if I shovelled their driveway,” he said. 

So he decided to take action and created SnowAngels London on social media, urging people to check on their neighbours and leave messages if they needed assistance during big snow storms.

The local community embraced McCardle's initiative, and a web design company noticed the positive impact SnowAngels London was having on social media. They offered to create a website, making it easier for volunteers to connect with those in need. 

The website uses Google Maps to match volunteers with individuals requiring snow removal services in their vicinity. Those seeking assistance could register and describe their needs, which would then appear as a snowflake icon on the map. Volunteers, registered by postal code, could view these icons and offer their help. 

Subsequent communication would take place via email to maintain privacy. 

“The easiest way to describe our program is that it’s like a dating site,” McCardle laughed. “All our website does is introduce the two parties, and then it’s up to them to make arrangements via email.” 

The success of SnowAngels London inspired other communities to replicate the model. McCardle offered the website to interested towns and cities free of charge. However, not all communities found it easy to manage locally — until Barrie. The municipality loved the initiative and took responsibility for building a website and promoting SnowAngels within their city.

Barrie’s success created a snowball effect — quite literally. 

Because the system works based on Google Maps, instead of creating separate websites for each city, the web designer created one website under the banner of SnowAngels Canada. Local promotion became the key to success, with communities from Collingwood to Nova Scotia and Calgary joining the SnowAngels movement.

However, for it to work, McCardle emphasized the importance of promoting SnowAngels not only to those in need but also to potential volunteers. Without balanced promotion on both sides, there could be a mismatch in demand and supply.

“You can’t have that disparity,” he said. “But for the most part — and I can only say this anecdotally because of privacy — I know hundreds and thousands of people are getting help every day.”

Collingwood has been particularly successful in promoting SnowAngels through its libraries, McCardle said, serving as a model for other communities to follow.

“Collingwood would hold up as a stellar example of how to execute it properly,” he said.2

Reader Feedback

Maddie Johnson

About the Author: Maddie Johnson

Maddie Johnson is an early career journalist working in financial, small business, adventure and lifestyle reporting. She studied Journalism at the University of King's College, and worked in Halifax, Malta and Costa Rica before settling in Collingwood
Read more