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

Construction on the main foyer at the soon-to-be opened Clayton Community Centre. (Photo courtesy of HCMA Architecture + Design)
Clayton Community Centre opening delayed again

City says Provincial Health Order reason for latest delay

Court of Appeal in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Man convicted of assault, unlawfully confining woman pregnant with his child loses court appeal

Victim tells court he drove her to Guildford parking lot after he’d ‘grabbed’ her neck and she fainted

Peter and Stephanie Chung. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey philanthropists presenting $285K in scholarships on Saturday

Drs. Peter and Stephanie Chung over the past nine years have awarded more than 500 students, in memory of their son Joseph

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Vancouver flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

Most Read