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

Fundraiser launched for missing Vernon man

GoFundMe campaign already at halfway mark of $5K goal

Our history in pictures

Vernon’s vew from the top of the world

Support warms Vernon seniors centre

More than $54,000 raised at Furnace Fundraiser

Lecture series celebrates Okanagan art

David Doody presents at Vernon Art Gallery for UBCO Lecture Series

Commercial vehicle licensing cancelled in Vernon

City councillors heard concerns from businesses and advocates, ended decal program

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Kelowna-Lake Country MP calls for end to softwood lumber dispute

‘This brings the total jobs lost in the forestry sector to over 4,000 in B.C. alone,’ said MP Gray

UBC to be first Canadian institution to join open science platform

The new service aims to make transparency, collaboration and reproducibility easier

New cannabis course coming to Okanagan College

The new Recreational Cannabis Retail Sales course will launch online on Feb. 17

Opioid crisis to blame for shorter life expectancy in B.C. men, says Stats Can

Opioid crisis held responsible for declining life expectancy

JUUL responds to Vernon’s vaping concerns

President of JUUL Labs Canada says numbers reported in local vape presentation inaccurate

Kelowna RCMP search for suspect in violent wallet theft

The woman was walking along McCurdy Road when she was pushed down by a passing male

Earthquake on top of highway closure a wake up call for Island’s West Coast

“When someone says, ‘Be prepared for 72 hours,’ that means exactly that: be prepared.”

Restaurant owners present cheque to family of Kelowna girl diagnosed with tumour

Central Kitchen and Bar staff recently held fundraiser to help with Elara’s treatment costs

Most Read