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

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta identifies 1,516 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday

Central zone has 1,849 active cases

Image/ Metro Creative Connection
County of Wetaskiwin responds to Alberta Energy Regulator’s decision on Directive 067.

On April 7, 2021 the Alberta Energy Regular (AER) announced a new edition of Directive 067.

A damaged unicorn statue is shown in a field outside of Delia, Alta. in this undated handout photo. It’s not often police can report that a unicorn has been found, but it was the truth Saturday when RCMP said a stolen, stainless-steel statue of the mythical beast had been located in a field not far from where he’d been taken. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Mounties get their unicorn; stolen statue of mythical beast found in Alberta field

Police are still looking for suspects, and have called in their forensics experts to help

There were six additional deaths across Alberta reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,926 since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

A vial of some of the first 500,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Canada’s 2nd blood clot confirmed in Alberta after AstraZeneca vaccine

The male patient, who is in his 60s, is said to be recovering

The funeral of Britain’s Prince Philip in Windsor, England, on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Philip died April 9 at the age of 99. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)
PHOTOS: Prince Philip laid to rest Saturday as sombre queen sits alone

The entire royal procession and funeral took place out of public view within the grounds of Windsor Castle

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine in a freezer trailer, to be transported to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pfizer to increase vaccine deliveries in Canada as Moderna supply slashed

Moderna plans to ship 650,000 doses of its vaccine to Canada by the end of the month, instead of the expected 1.2 million

Most Read