FILE - In this Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018, file photo, a cursor moves over Google’s search engine page, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Don Ryan, File)

FILE - In this Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018, file photo, a cursor moves over Google’s search engine page, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Don Ryan, File)

From toilet paper to Tiger King: Here’s what Canadians searched on Google in 2020

Black Lives Matter, the pandemic had a big effect on Canadians this year

This past year has been a year of new knowledge, growth and a whole lot of spare time for many people as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of society and the Black Lives Matter movement inspired self-reflection.

Christina Peck, Google Canada trends expert, said the year has been an unusual one when viewed through a search engine lens, too.

“2020 was not the year any of us expected,” Peck told Black Press Media by phone. “It was unpredictable, heavy and really tested people around the world, and Canadians.”

Google compiles top trending searches every year and in this way, 2020 is no different. This year, Peck said, people were asking one big question: why?

“Sometimes the answer made us cry, sometimes it sparked joy or worry, and in some cases it even inspired change,” she said.

Somewhere in all those emotion was the most-wanted item of the year, toilet paper.

“Why are people buying toilet paper?” was the most common “why” question asked of Google this year

“This has been a topic of conversation throughout the pandemic,” Peck said, and might be spiking again as B.C. introduces new restrictions and Ontario is in another lockdown.

But the list of “why” questions was not always so light. Many touched on more serious worries about COVID-19, while others were on the Black Lives Matter movement and the death of George Floyd at the hands of police.

“This left many people wondering why we’re asking the same questions, why are we seeing black men and women lose their lives?” Peck said.

The top trending search of the year for Canadians is one that’s still fresh for many: the U.S. election.

“We’re really dialled in and engaged into what’s happening south of the border,” Peck said, noting it’s not unusual for American news to trend in any years. News of the election especially spiked during the debates leading up to voting day and the day itself.

READ MORE: Americans search for nearby liquor stores, French fries as they await election results

The third most trending search harkens back to the start of 2020, before most people knew what awaited them this year.

“Kobe Bryant – this was a really devastating moment and when the news broke in January that Kobe along with his daughter Gianna had passed away… in the helicopter crash, it kind of stopped everybody,” Peck said. “Kobe has inspired so many people both on and off the court.”

But Bryant was sadly just the first of many celebrities deaths in 2020, “goodbyes we weren’t ready to say.”

One that likely hit Canadians the hardest was Alex Trebek, who died just over a month ago after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

“He’s not only a Canadian icon but he’s someone who Canadians and people around the world have invited into their homes night after night through ‘Jeopardy!’”

Despite everything that happened in 2020, Canadians did try to lighten up the mood as they faced months of job losses and pandemic restrictions. They searched for “easy cookie recipes” and “sourdough discard recipes,” before turning around and looking for “resistance band workouts” and “Chloe Ting workouts.”

“We’ve all been at home so we’re probably spending a little bit more time on social media – or on our phones or our devices – and we’re seeing that people are turning to memes to find that joy,” Peck said.

“There’s a lot of fun ones here… Tiger King, Carole Baskin, Joe Exotic, Love is Blind, and toilet paper memes also come back up. It’s a good indication of the year and some of the things that happened as people tried to find a little bit of laughter.”

READ MORE: What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Best of 2020Google

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Delta City Hall. (James Smith photo)
Harvie, Kruger to represent Delta on Metro Vancouver board

Delta reps to sit on 11 of 16 standing committees and task forces

Record-setting high jumper Emma de Boer, who lives in Cloverdale and attends Holy Cross Regional High School in Fleetwood, will train and study architecture at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) next fall. (submitted photo)
Surrey jumper on a high after recruitment by UPenn track team

High jumper Emma de Boer aims to leave Cloverdale for Philadelphia next fall

The White Birch proposal for a six-storey rental-only building at 1485 Fir St. was turned down by council on Monday night. (Contributed rendering)
White Birch developer feels ‘betrayed’ by City of White Rock council

Application for new rental building at 1485 Fir St. turned down by council

Surrey RCMP Gang Enforcement Team street check. (File photo)
Surrey RCMP gang enforcement team seizes five vehicles

This was over 13 days, as SGET continues to target gang activity in this city

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

RCMP officers wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stand by. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
RCMP appeal for witnesses after hit-and-run leaves girl, 17, in critical condition

The Metro Vancouver teenager was found unconscious and critically injured after being hit: police

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
Canadians divided over Keystone pipeline, despite U.S. president’s permit pullback

Two-thirds of Canadians think Biden’s decision was a “bad thing” for Alberta

Most Read