Nfld. & Labrador

Inspiration. Turmoil. Puffins. The stories you clicked on the most in 2018

Some are light, others are dead serious. Perhaps the only thing these dozen pieces have in common is that they were read and shared the most.

Some are light, others serious. These stories were the ones our audience read and shared the most

Tony Bussey lost 326 pounds in two years, after his experience fleeing the Fort McMurray wild fires inspired him to change. (Submitted)

We publish dozens of stories each week at CBC Newfoundland and Labrador, and while we — like a parent dropping a child off at school — always hope for the best for all of them, some stories take off.

Like, really take off. 

Every now and then, we have stories that find audiences far beyond our expectations, and often well beyond our own shores and even national boundaries. 

Some of the stories are dead-serious; others are light. That's the way our lineup works, day in and week out; a mix of facts, feelings and emotions that span the whole spectrum. 

Indeed, the only thing these 12 pieces have in common is that they all found the largest audiences.

The man who lost 326 pounds after Fort McMurray's evacuation

Tony Bussey fits in just one of the legs of pants he wore two years ago. (Submitted)

Tony Bussey knew he had to change his life when wildfires ripped into Fort McMurray, Alta., forcing him to leave town — and making it all too clear he had to lose weight. At one point, Bussey weighed 567 pounds, and he needed to use two airplane seats during the evacuation. 

"Seeing people having to wait because I was too fat to sit next to, that was it for me," Bussey told us, as he described a healthier change that saw him lose 326 pounds. 

Katie Breen's report on Bussey in April was a true phenomenon, as it was shared widely for days on end, and earning more than 1.1 million views. 

Puffin beaks are fluorescent and we had no idea

This puffin is lit. (Submitted by Jamie Dunning)

In the spring, On The Go booked an interview with a British scientist who researches a bird quite well known on this side of the Atlantic: the puffin.

It transpires that Jamie Dunning found that the beaks of puffins glow — "like a freshly cracked glow stick," in the words of Sarah Smellie in her report last April — when put under an ultraviolet light. 

We thought it was cool … and, um, wow. So did the internet. 

A tragedy at Cape Spear 

Acting fire lieutenant Steve Erbland and fire captain Pat Power say incidents at Cape Spear are far too common. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

Early one Saturday morning in August, as the sun was coming up, emergency response crews were called to Cape Spear — one of the best places to see a sunrise. Andrew Sampson reported on a heart-breaking scene: a 53-year-old woman died after falling from a cliff that is popular with visitors — even though signs and officials warn the public to steer clear. 

The woman was later identified as Kim Hix of Chicago, who had a passion for Newfoundland music. 

Woman orders sandwich, gets bag of Roll up the Rim winners

Pamela Murphy was surprised to find these winning tabs, and not the sandwich that she ordered, in a Tim Hortons bag. (Pamela Murphy/Facebook)

From last March, this was a story about a routine, relatable activity — picking up lunch at a Tim Hortons drive-thru — that took an extraordinary turn.

Instead of a grilled chicken wrap, Paradise resident Pam Murphy got a bag filled to the brim with winning tabs for the chain's ever-popular Roll up the Rim to Win contest. Murphy, who estimated the bag contained thousands of dollars' worth of prizes, returned the bag — and even refused to disclose the specific location, so no one got in trouble. 

German singer goes overboard from cruise ship near Newfoundland

Daniel Kueblboeck came to prominence in Germany through the TV series Pop Idol. (Getty Images)

In early September, we brought you another sad story, and one that got international attention, particularly in Europe.

German singer Daniel Kueblboeck, who had competed on that country's version of Pop Idol, went missing while taking a transatlantic holiday cruise on the ship Aidaluna, which has docked frequently over the years in St. John's. 

First legal weed sold in Canada at Newfoundland shops

Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton, left to right, poses with the receipt for the first legal cannabis for recreation use sold in Canada to Nikki Rose and Ian Power at the Tweed shop on Water Street in St. John's N.L. at 12:01 am NDT on Wednesday October 17, 2018. (Paul Daly/Canadian Press)

It was a lineup like no other. Outside the doors of Tweed's shop on Water Street in downtown St. John's, among other shops, customers queued to be among the first to buy recreational cannabis legally in Canada. 

As Stephanie Tobin reported, the Newfoundland time zone meant that customers had a jump start on the rest of the country for legal weed sales on Oct. 17. 

That time the most intense storm on the planet was pounding Newfoundland and Labrador

The waves were smacking against the rocks in Bonavista. (Submitted by Eric Abbott)

There are fierce storms, and then there's what unleashed itself on Nov. 15: a storm so powerful, that a stack at Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro's generating station in Holyrood was swaying in the wind. 

Not always illegal to yell FHRITP at female reporters, judge rules dismissing case

NTV journalist Heather Gillis snapped this photo of the truck from which the driver yelled obscenities at her. (Heather Gillis/Twitter)

A provincial court judge's decision in February caught national attention, when Colin Flynn ruled that what Justin Penton did to NTV reporter Heather Gillis did not constitute a crime. Penton called "F--k her in the p---y" as he drove past Gillis while she conducted an interview near the Robin Hood Bay landfill.

As Ryan Cooke reported, Flynn said the incident was an emotional disturbance, but one that did not meet the criteria of disturbing the peace. 

Stranded fox rescued from iceberg by fishermen who fed him Vienna sausages

Once the fox dried out and had some food, he lost his fear of the crew members. (Submitted by Alan Russell)

Wildlife. An iceberg. Fishermen. Vienna sausages. 

How could this story not be shared? In June, the exploits of a little Arctic fox made their way around the world. 

A cartoonist goes to Costco

Veronica Dymond on the outer limits of ... Costco. (John Gushue/CBC)

Veronica Dymond — a writer, stand-up comedian and a cartoonist — tapped into a bit of consumer zeitgeist in August with a satirical column titled To get through Costco, you have to go through 9 circles of retail hell. 

Yeah, it still makes us laugh, too. 

Dear Jeff: A former sex worker's letter to the clients she once knew

A woman who used to work in the sex trade in Newfoundland and Labrador says that many clients call themselves "Jeff" even though that's not their real name. (CBC )

To tell the audience what her life had been like, Tabatha Scott — the name is a pseudonym that CBC used to protect her identity — wrote an essay in the form of a letter to Jeff.

Why Jeff? "I don't know why the johns always lie and say their name is Jeff, but they do," wrote Scott in an essay we published in March as part of a series on child exploitation called Stealing Innocence. 

'Living the Newfoundland dream' for 8 years, a St. John's trainer thought he would have to leave the country

Machel Rayner, 31, has lived in St. John's for eight years but has been told he needs to return to his home country of Jamaica. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

Machel Rayner came to Newfoundland and Labrador from Jamaica through the provincial nominee program, but ran afoul of a technicality when he took work in Nova Scotia after he lost part of his income.

Public reaction to Ariana Kelland's reporting in early December was swift, and powerful; by the end of the day, Rayner's work permit was reinstated. 

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

About the Author

John Gushue

CBC News

John Gushue is the digital senior producer with CBC News in St. John's.


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