2020: Google it

Canada’s first NBA Championship, prominent deaths, great movies and TV, a few controversies and more championships.

These are some of the things Canadians were curious about in 2019. According to Google Trends, some of the year’s top 10 searches in Canada include the Toronto Raptors, Luke Perry, Bianca Andreescu, hurricane Dorian and even Don Cherry.

This list forgets important moments but it proves that our curiosity was piqued by what seems like a whole different world only 12 months ago.

Eva Fernandes, a psychology student minoring in social sciences of health at the University of Ottawa, remembers people from her home in Oshawa being excited to go to Toronto in June 2019.

“People were constantly taking the train, going to celebrate, watching the games in the square, lots of celebrating with Bianca Andreescu’s win,” Fernandes says. “There [were] a lot of wins for Canada.”

When Fernandes thinks of 2019, that’s what she thinks of.

But for others, 2020 will likely leave a different memory. And the data can help shape that memory.

Google Trends puts a year’s worth of data together by the end of each trip around the sun and calls it a Year in Search. It features search topics, news, people, questions, songs – “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X took the cake in 2019 in case you were wondering.

Google even produces its own short film portraying the year in searches. Last year’s theme was Superheroes.

If you have not seen it yet, any guesses for what the 2020 video looks like?

If we set our search from Jan. 1, 2020 to today, the top breakout search topic in Canada is coronavirus. Shocking, I know.

For her undergrad thesis, Fernandes is looking at how the well-being and mental health of Canadians has changed during the pandemic. She says she’s Googled her fair share of information about the virus.

“As a regular person in the world right now, I did Google a lot about pandemics,” she adds. “I think many people, including myself, looked up the rates.”

When it came to specific search queries, the worldometer, displaying the updated number of cases worldwide, placed tenth and is still a trending search.

The rest of the top ten most searched list may not surprise you either:

2- Zoom

3- Virus

4- Mask

5- Service Canada

6- Canada Revenue Agency

7- Google Classroom

8- Stock

9- Symptom

10- Bread

Coronavirus symptoms are something Maddie Stewart, a psychology student minoring in English, searched on Google. She spent the early months of this year in Sweden as part of an exchange program with the University of Ottawa. In March, she was advised to return home to Canada in light of the rapid spread of the pandemic. Her journey on a plane and trains led her to Google.

“After I got back, I was constantly looking at symptoms to see if I was feeling anything related to COVID-19,” Stewart explains.

Once she was home, lockdown came into effect and it led her to Google the tenth trending topic on the list: Bread.

“I made banana bread,” Stewart says laughing. “I did a lot of baking during quarantine.”

Stewart isn’t alone. ‘Bread’ spiked to its highest search rate of the year between April 5 and April 11 in Canada and worldwide. Can you say, ‘bored at home’?

Whether you searched everything on this list, or nothing at all, the way we look back at 2020 will most likely include words we couldn’t escape.

According to 2020’s Year in Search video, questions asking ‘why?’ were searched more than ever this year.

Want to find out why you will remember 2020? For one last trip down memory lane, see the video for yourself.

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