A stowaway cat and an 87-year-old truck driver: Stories that warmed our hearts in 2019

Nova Scotians are known for being kind and welcoming, and CBC Nova Scotia's most heartwarming stories of 2019 certainly show why.

Here are a few of our favourites, in no particular order:

'Guardian angel': Contractor tricks senior into accepting free roof

Brent Kelloway/CBC

Jeremy Locke, the owner of a roofing and construction company, often drove by Jeanette MacDonald's Glace Bay, N.S., home, watching her roof deteriorate.

When he approached her to fix the roof for free, she turned him down.

"I don't like people doing anything for me for nothing," MacDonald said.

Locke then changed tactics and told her she'd won a free roof as part of a raffle. What she didn't know at the time was that she had the only ticket. Read the rest of the story here.

'I don't know how I did it': Mom saves daughter, 4, from sinking car after crash

Submitted by Ryan Richard

Last winter, as her car skidded across black ice and began rolling down an embankment toward an icy pond, Ashley Holland thought she was going to die.

But moments later, the Hantsport, N.S., woman found the strength to not only save herself, but also her four-year-old daughter who was strapped in the backseat as freezing water rushed in.

You can read about the harrowing ordeal here.

'Damn it was good': N.S. woman made most of life after cancer diagnosis

Bailey Matheson/Facebook

A 35-year-old Nova Scotia woman who died of cancer last April summed up her life in her self-written obituary by saying "35 years may not seem long, but damn it was good!"

In Bailey Matheson's obituary, she thanked her family and friends for their love and support, especially after she decided to forego chemotherapy.

"My parents gave me the greatest gift of supporting my decisions with not going through chemo and just letting me live the rest of my life the way I believed it should be," she wrote.

You can read more about Bailey's life here.

This cat came back, but only after stowing away on a fishing boat

Submitted by Murray Rowlings

When Hank the cat disappeared from his home on Nova Scotia's Eastern Shore, his owners thought he was gone for good. Instead, he was on a grand adventure.

He stowed away on a fishing boat, got some fresh air, as well as some snacks and cuddles from the ship's crew before he was returned safely home.

Read more about Hank's adventure here.

Teen with Down syndrome asks teaching assistant to prom — she says 'Absolutely!'

Jenna Morrison

When 19-year-old Mason Slade was asked who he wanted to take to the prom, he didn't miss a beat.

"Paula," came the reply.

He knew because he'd been planning to ask his educational program assistant for three years.

Read the rest of Mason's story here.

Grandmother, granddaughter graduate from high school on same day

Jon Tattrie/CBC

A Nova Scotia grandmother and granddaughter graduated from high school on the same day in June, decades after the grandmother left school to raise her children.

Darlene Roy and her granddaughter, Ataya Keans, worked closely together at the Queens Adult High School in Liverpool, N.S., for the last three years, helping each other study and get the work done.

Roy had to leave school decades ago at 16 when she became pregnant with Keans's mother. She and her husband raised two children and put thoughts of a high school diploma behind them.

Read the rest of their story here.

This photo was about to win $5,000. Here's why the volunteer fire chief backed out

Submitted by Reserve Mines

The Reserve Mines Fire Department in Cape Breton was on its way to winning $5,000 in a Facebook contest when the chief decided to pull out of the competition so another fire department could win.

"Most volunteers are in the same boat — we're all fighting for money — but we saw this as an opportunity to help out a department that was much less fortunate than us," said Reserve Mines fire Chief Jeff Aucoin.

Read the rest of the story here.

'When I realized who she was, it truly broke my heart': Why a driver's act of kindness went viral

Paul Palmeter/CBC/Enfield Weekly Press

A random act of kindness toward a mother who lost her seven children in a devastating house fire in Spryfield, N.S., reverberated with people on social media last summer.

A Halifax woman was moved to offer a ride to a stranger and two children after seeing the bus they were running toward pull away on a hot summer day. Casey Lee Martin looped back around to pick up the trio.

Martin said she soon realized her passenger was Kawthar Barho, who survived a fast-moving house fire at her home in February, but her seven children perished and her husband suffered severe burns. The family came to Canada in 2017 as refugees from Syria.

You can read more about the story here.

Animal shelter staff member cuddles up with dog, has 'sleepover' during storm

Homeward Bound/Facebook

When the staff at Homeward Bound City Pound saw a storm rolling in last winter, they knew it meant making sure someone could get to the animals in the morning.

While some might have been tempted to call it a very, very long workday, the dedicated staff at the Dartmouth, N.S., shelter had another word: sleepover.

Homeward Bound's Facebook page shared a photo of Shanda Antle, sound asleep on a blow-up mattress in one of their playrooms, with 30 kilograms of fur at her feet.

Read the rest here.

Meet the N.S. man who has owned the same truck for 70 years

Steve Lawrence/CBC

Randall Pitman bought a 1927 Ford Model T truck at an auction when was 17. At 87, he's still driving it.

Read more here.