Calgary

Calgary stories that made an impact across the country and around the world in 2016

From tragic tales to teleportation, here's a look back at some of the most-read online stories of the year.

From tragic tales to teleportation — a look back at some of the most-read online stories of the year

The story of Edward Downey being charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of five-year-old Taliyah Marsman and her mother, Sara Baillie, was our most read of 2016. (CBC/Instagram/Facebook)

It's been a busy year for news in Calgary and southern Alberta, with local stories garnering attention across the country — and around the world.

Here we take a look back at some of the stories that drew the biggest online audiences over the past 12 months.

Many of them involved death and tragedy, but there were some uplifting stories too, and some that were just plain weird.

The most-read story of the year was a sad one — the end of the Amber Alert that was issued for five-year-old Taliyah Marsman in July.

Family 'devastated' as charges laid in deaths of Taliyah Marsman and Sara Baillie

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Sara Baillie, right, was found dead in the home she was renting in Panorama Hills on July 11, 2016. Her five-year-old daughter, Taliyah Leigh Marsman, was the subject of an Amber Alert until her body was found on July 14. (Instagram)

The Amber Alert was issued in the early-morning hours of July 12. Later that same day, police revealed Taliyah's mother, Sara Baillie, had been found dead.

The search for the little girl captivated Canadians for three days but the story ultimately ended in tragedy when, on the night of July 14, police announced they had found a body believed to be Taliyah's by a rural road near Chestermere, Alta..

Police later charged 46-year-old Edward Downey with two counts of first-degree murder.

But those were far from the only deaths that made headlines in 2016.

Former Alberta premier Jim Prentice among 4 killed in B.C. plane crash

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice waves to the gallery before the speech from the throne at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton, on November 17, 2014. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

The death of former Alberta premier Jim Prentice, who was killed in a plane crash in October along with Ken Gellatly, Sheldon Reid and Jim Kruk, captured national attention.

Prentice had also been a high-profile MP for many years in Stephen Harper's cabinet and was well-known to Canadians across the country.

He was later honoured as "a great Albertan, a great Canadian" at a state memorial in Calgary.

Funerals were, unfortunately, a common theme in the news this year.

Calgary bobsled track accident kills twin brothers, injures 6 other teens

Jordan and Evan Caldwell 'were bright lights to all that knew them,' their family said in a statement following their deaths early Saturday at the bobsled track at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary. (Submitted by the Caldwell family)

Jordan and Evan Caldwell died after sneaking onto the bobsled run at Canada Olympic Park for a joyride, not realizing a gate was closed on the track below them.

At a funeral service attended by hundreds of Calgarians, the twin brothers were remembered as playful pranksters and at the same time, "very deep" young men who liked to discuss political, social and religious issues.

Another death was also back in the news in 2016 — that of 19-month-old Ezekiel Stephan.

Alberta parents convicted in toddler's meningitis death

Ezekiel Stephan of Raymond, Alta., died in March 2012. An autopsy showed he had bacterial meningitis. (Stephan family)

Young Ezekiel died back in 2012 but it took until 2016 for his parents' trial, in which they were convicted of failing to provide the necessaries of life to their son.

Court heard how David and Collet Stephan tried treating Ezekiel's bacterial meningitis with holistic remedies and didn't involve doctors until it was too late.

The trial caught worldwide attention, in part because of how adamant the parents were that they had done nothing wrong.

Topics other than death did make the news in Southen Alberta this year, too, and the economy was a persistent theme.

One of the most well-read stories from the CBC Business team in Calgary was this one.

Jingle mail rears its ugly head in Alberta again

Heritage Pointe, a tiny hamlet south of Calgary, had 27 homes for sale for more than $1 million at one point in 2016. (Colin Hall/CBC)

So-called "jingle mail" refers to when a homeowner who's underwater on a mortgage simply gives up on the debt — and the home — by mailing the keys back to the bank.

It happened a lot during the last big real estate crash in the 1980s and, as we learned, the federal government has been worried about it happening again.

The Department of Finance commissioned two separate reports on the topic that CBC obtained through the an access-to-information request.

All depressing stuff so far but there were some lighter stories that went viral this year, too. 

'Balloonatic' who flew over Calgary in lawn chair fined thousands

Dan Boria tied more than 100 helium balloons to a lawn chair and flew more than two kilometres above the ground in Calgary, in a stunt devised to create buzz for his cleaning products company. (YouTube/CBC)

OK, so it still technically involves a crime and a court case, but for most people it wasn't seen as a bad-news story.

Daniel Boria's publicity stunt captured national attention when strapped more than 100 "industrial-sized" helium balloons to a lawn chair and floated high above the city — even soaring above the flight paths of commercial airliners.

He had hoped to land at the Calgary Stampede but winds pushed him off track and he parachuted to the ground, injured his ankle and wound up under arrest.

This all happened in 2015 but Boria was in court earlier this year, pleading guilty to dangerous operation of an aircraft and just last week he received his sentence — a $5,000 fine and an order to make $20,000 in donations to charity.

Teleportation across Calgary marks 'major step' toward creation of 'quantum internet'

From left, postdoctoral fellows Daniel Oblak, Erhan Saglamyurek and physics professor Wolfgang Tittel look over lab equipment. Their team recently published a paper on new quantum computing advances. (Riley Brandt/University of Calgary)

It's not often that stories about esoteric scientific research make a most-read list, but who doesn't love a tale about teleportation?

In what they described as a "major step" toward practical quantum networking, researchers at the University of Calgary successfully demonstrated the teleportation of a light particle's properties between their lab and the city's downtown area, six kilometres away.

The "spooky action at a distance," as Einstein once dubbed the nature of quantum mechanics, proved fascinating to readers, who shared the story tens of thousands of times.

But the readership on the teleportation story was dwarfed by that of this next one.

Hungover customer brings heaps of business to struggling Alberta fish and chip shop

A lineup of hungry customers at Whitbie's Fish & Chips in Lethbridge, Alta. (Colin Ross/Facebook)

Who doesn't love a greasy breakfast after a night of heavy drinking?

Colin Ross is definitely a fan of the hangover cure and he found a healthy dose of it at Whitbie's Fish & Chips in Lethbridge, Alta., one morning in August.

During his visit, he struck up a conversation with the shop's friendly 69-year-old owner, John McMillan, who fixed him three-pieces halibut on a bed of fries. He learned from McMillan that business had been "terrible" recently and vowed to help the shop out with a positive Facebook review.

That review was quickly shared more than 8,000 times and, within a few days, there were lineups out the door.

"Our business has just gone right through the roof to the point where we've got people waiting an hour and a half to an hour and three-quarters for their dinner," McMillan said.

But don't take our word for it. Listen for yourself as McMillan and Ross reminisce about their fateful encounter:

How a little fish & chip shop in Lethbridge went from almost zero customers to lineups out the door all thanks to one hungry, hungover guy. 7:05

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