Squid Game, bitcoin and tornadoes: Here's what Canadians Googled the most in 2021
A pandemic, natural disasters and political jousting: the year 2021 has given us a lot to search for on Google.
"We're seeing a theme this year, where there's a real desire to come back strong," said Google Canada spokesperson Luiza Staniec.
In its annual Google search report, the company found that while COVID-19 was still the focus online in 2021, the way Canadians talked about it changed.
"Last year, it was more about the number of cases, or 'What is the COVID-19 virus?' 'What are the differences between the vaccines?' whereas now it's more about 'Where can I get vaccinated?' 'How do I get my vaccine passport?'" she explained.
However, though the number one search by Quebecers was "COVID vaccination nearby?" the second most-searched was "NHL," a sign of the excitement generated by the Montreal Canadiens making it to the Stanley Cup final.
Based on searches for current events, the Wimbledon tennis tournament (third place), the NBA (fourth place), the Olympics (fifth place) and goaltender Carey Price (eighth place) trended as top stories.
In comparison, the federal election placed seventh.
"Sports is interesting because it's really something that unites us all together. In the hunger to feel connected to others, people turn to these sporting moments," said Staniec.
The isolation caused by the pandemic, as well as the long-awaited return of several sports played a roll in this revival, she notes.
Among the athletes, tennis player Leylah Fernandez was at the top of Quebec's top 10.
She is also the only woman to be listed, among the likes of many hockey players, such as Carey Price, Jake Evans and Kyle Beach.
When it came to TV shows, Squid Game, a South Korean drama where indebted characters are caught up in a deadly competition in the hope of winning enough money to turn their lives around, ranked number one in both Quebec and Canada.
In the province, it is the only entry, both on television and in movies, that is not from North America.
"Why is Squid Game so popular?" was the tenth most asked question across the country.
Besides Squid Game, it seems people wanted to watch shows about love: Occupation double dans l'Ouest, Love Island, Love Is Blind and Big Brother Quebec were the most searched items.
When it comes to movies, people looked for fantasy, horror and action -- most often big-budget Hollywood productions -- like superhero story Shang-Chi (second place) or the bloody return of Michael Myers in Halloween Kills (third place).
Quebec director Denis Villeneuve's adaptation of the science fiction novel, Dune, took the top prize.
Only one entirely homegrown production, L'Arracheuse de temps (ninth place), made the list.
"There was a big moment in terms of interest in all things cryptocurrency," states Staniec. "This year is the first time that people are asking about the price of bitcoin, how you can buy them."
How to buy bitcoin was the sixth most asked question by Quebecers, while the price of ethereum was the tenth most-searched item.
Across Canada, people also wanted to know about dogecoin.
The stock market adventures of small investors frequenting Reddit also made their mark, with GameStop and AMC among the most popular searches.
Earlier this year, a group of Redditers bought a huge amount of shares of these companies, with the avowed aim of using Wall Street's own techniques against it.
In unusual events of the year, the Mascouche tornado was the tenth most sought-after news item.
However, despite all the big news stories, Staniec points out the top searches were still little everyday ailments that nag at the average person: "stopping the hiccups," "stopping a runny nose," or "getting rid of fruit flies."
As Google celebrates its 20th year of operation in Canada, the company revealed Tuesday that the word that stood out the most in Canada is... Canada.
According to Staniec, "there's something very emotional about it, when you think about how you define a Canadian, who we are, how we immigrated here."
In its annual compilation of major trends, Google explains it does not necessarily calculate the raw number of queries, but rather the major peaks and changes over time, "because otherwise, we would find a lot of weather or political figures," Staniec explains.
-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Dec. 8, 2021.
-- This article was produced with the financial support of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowships.