A Google sign at a store in Hialeah, Fla. on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Alan Diaz

Google searches suggest 2017 a tough year

What were Canadians were curious about: Google searches suggest 2017 a tough year

If you are what you Google, Canadians are a pretty broad-minded lot.

Google has released its 17th annual survey of top-trending searches, and top-of-mind topics for Canucks in 2017 ranged from devastating hurricanes to deceased rock icons to the continuing political circus south of the border.

“Google Year-End Search takes a look at trillions of searches globally,” said Alexandra Hunnings Klein, trends expert for Google Canada. “These lists are a barometer of what was interesting, what Canadians were curious about in 2017.”

Some search terms are always popular, said Hunnings Klein.

“Justin Bieber is always up there.”

What the lists measure are short-term spikes in the use of specific search terms. They provide a kind of index of which news stories Canadians responded to most — or at least drove them to their cellphones or tablets for more information.

The top overall search term was Hurricane Irma. Canadians were unstoppably keen for the latest on the immensely powerful storm that battered Florida and the Caribbean in the fall.

The second most popular overall search was Meghan Markle, the American and sometime Torontonian actor engaged to Prince Harry.

Hunnings Klein said search spikes often coincide with events in the news. For example: “Why are Canadian flags at half-mast?” — the second-most common spike under the “Why?” category — came after six men were shot and killed in a Quebec mosque last January.

And while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remained broadly popular, Canadians appeared to be at least curious about opposition leaders. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, both annointed this year, were near the top of searches under “Political Figures.”

Related: The top-binged shows on Netflix in 2017

There’s no prize for guessing that column was headed by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Singer and poet Gord Downie, the Tragically Hip front man who died this year after a rapturously received national tour and album in 2016, placed high in both the “National News” and “Losses” categories. But under “Losses,” even Downie came second to U.S. musician Tom Petty.

Canadians also seemed fascinated by entertainment giants toppled by allegations of sexual misbehaviour. Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer and Kevin Spacey — who all lost their jobs over such accusations — came in one, two and three in the “People” category.

The biggest search surges in the “Kitchen” section were for the apple cider vinegar diet and the plant-based diet.

The Google list suggests we’ve had a bit of a tough year, said Hunnings Klein.

“This list really tells me we’ve had a year where there’s been many moments that have been divisive or contentious or challenging. We’ve had a lot of moments that have challenged us.”

But some searches suggest there were moments that brought us together. Queries on the British Columbia wildfires were often accompanied by searches asking how to help, Hunnings Klein said.

Then there was August’s solar eclipse. Not only did the term place third in the overall Canadian list, it spawned a second, related spike.

“On Day 1, they were asking, ‘How do I make a solar eclipse viewer?’” Hunnings Klein said. ”On Day 2, they were asking, ‘Why do my eyes hurt?’”

Some questions may have flummoxed even the world’s most popular search engine.

One wonders what Google made of at least one question that made the list under “Why?”

“Why are fidget spinners so popular?”

Some questions, even for Google, remain unanswerable.

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

Sylvan Lake RCMP Detachment. Photo Courtesy of Google Maps
Sylvan Lake RCMP looking for input on policing concerns

Staff Sergeant Jeff McBeth wants to hear from local community members in the detachment area

flu
Flu shots are available free of charge at pharmacies and doctors’ offices across the province

This year’s flu season presents an additional challenge as Alberta responds to COVID-19

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19. (File photo)
432 new COVID cases sets another record Friday

Central zone holds steady at 126 active cases

"We are looking seriously at the spread and determining what our next steps should be," says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
427 new COVID cases is highest in Alberta ever

Central zone has 126 active cases of COVID-19

100 Women Who Care make a donation to Sylvan Lake Food Bank and Bethany Care Centre. Photo By Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News
100 Women Who Care donate to four Sylvan Lake groups

The Food Bank, Bethany Sylvan Lake, Community Partners and the Library all received a donation

Pumpkins for the 46th Annual WDACS Pumpkin Ball on display at Vision Credit Union Wetaskiwin. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
46th Annual Pumpkin Ball held virtually this year

This year the pumpkins were sold over a six-day online auction.

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Leader of the Opposition Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons Thursday October 22, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
O’Toole tells Alberta UCP AGM Liberals were ‘late and confused’ on COVID response

He says Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has taken charge and not waited to make things happen

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Inquiry into oil and gas foes to deliver report next year: Kenney

A lawsuit filed by environmental law firm Ecojustice argues the inquiry is politically motivated

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

This photo provided by Air Force Reserve shows a sky view of Hurricane Epsilon taken by Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter team over the Atlantic Ocean taken Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020.   Epsilon’s maximum sustained winds have dropped slightly as it prepares to sideswipe Bermuda on a path over the Atlantic Ocean.  The National Hurricane Center says it should come close enough Thursday, Oct. 22, evening to merit a tropical storm warning for the island.  (Air Force Reserve via AP)
Hurricane Epsilon expected to remain offshore but will push waves at Atlantic Canada

Epsilon is not expected to have any real impact on land

A voter places her absentee ballot in the ballot box, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Robert F. Bukaty
American voters living in Canada increasingly being counted in presidential race

The largest number of Canadian-based American voters cast their ballots in New York and California

A composite image of three photographs shows BC NDP Leader John Horgan, left, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Sept. 25, 2020; BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau, centre, in Victoria on Sept. 24, 2020; and BC Liberal Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson Pitt Meadows, B.C., on Sept. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck, Chad Hipolito
British Columbia votes in snap election called during COVID-19 pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan called the snap election one year before the fixed voting date

Most Read