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

A Sooke woman is speaking up after she was almost tricked by a lottery scam, claiming she had won $950,000 with Set for Life Lottery. (File Photo)
‘I wanted it to be true so badly’: Sooke woman almost falls for lottery scam

88-year-old received letter stating she had won $950,000

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

The Starbucks in Langford’s Westshore Town Centre is one of almost 300 storefronts that the U.S. coffee giant will be shutting across Canada by the end of March. (Google Maps)
Langford’s Westshore Town Centre Starbucks to close permanently

Popular coffee chain to close 300 storefronts across Canada by end of March

Royal Bay Secondary School (Black Press Media file photo)
Sooke School District alerts community to coronavirus positive case at Royal Bay secondary

Contact tracing underway after potential COVID-19 exposure Jan. 15

Staff and volunteers at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea were disappointed by the theft of an educational porpoise skull likely taken on Jan. 8. (Courtesy of Tina Kelly)
Well-loved porpoise skull stolen from Sidney aquarium

Skull had been used for youth and visitor education and outreach for years

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Trees destroyed a Shoreacres home during a wind storm Jan. 13, 2021. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay woman flees just before tree crushes house

Pamala DeRosa is thankful to be alive

Most Read