Nova Scotia

Top 10 newsmaking stories of 2013 in Nova Scotia

Thousands of stories were published by CBC Nova Scotia in 2013, but few generated more discussion, reaction and emotion than the ones you're about to read.

Of the thousands of stories published this year, here are the most read and discussed

Thousands of stories were published by CBC Nova Scotia in 2013, but few generated more discussion, reaction and emotion than the ones you're about to read.

Here are the top 10 newsmaking headlines of 2013 based on our most-read stories:

10. Hope Blooms in north-end Halifax 

A group of young Halifax entrepreneurs turned a small community garden project in an abandoned north-end lot into a profitable line of organic salad dressings. 

Thanks to a $40,000 no-strings-attached investment from the CBC reality show Dragons' Den, the Hope Blooms kids story spread across the country.

9. Who was Harley Lawrence?

Candlelight vigil for Harley Lawrence drew hundreds. (Jack Julian/CBC)

The horrific death of a small Nova Scotia town's only homeless resident spread awareness about mental health issues in communities across Canada. 

Harley Lawrence died in a suspicious fire at a bus shelter on Oct. 23. The investigation into his death is ongoing. No one has been charged.

Lawrence’s family said he suffered from mental illness but refused help.

8. Tragedy at sea


The small community of Woods Harbour lost five sons earlier this year after the fishing boat Miss Ally capsized in heavy seas. 

The Miss Ally overturned in rough waters on Feb. 17. The hull was found floating in the ocean several days later, but the wheelhouse and sleeping areas were gone.

Katlin Nickerson, Billy Jack Hatfield, Joel Hopkins, Steven Cole Nickerson and Tyson Townsend died when the vessel overturned. The bodies of the fishermen were not recovered.

7. Frankie MacDonald, amateur forecaster, viral video star

The story of a Cape Breton man's passion for the weather that made him a viral video was one of the most popular CBC News stories of the year. 

Frankie MacDonald became an internet sensation with his weather forecasts being viewed tens of thousands of times all of the world. 

"I like it, I like when people say, 'Frankie you are doing a great job, doing the weather.'" 

6. Rita McNeil, dead at 68

Rita MacNeil, the singer and former CBC-TV star from Big Pond, N.S., inspired dozens of young songwriters and performers after her big break in the 1980s. Here, MacNeil speaks after receiving a lifetime achievement award at the East Coast Music Awards in 2005 in Sydney, N.S.

Canada lost one of its most celebrated singers in 2013.

Rita McNeil, born in Big Pond, Cape Breton, was famously shy. But said her parents helped her overcome that trait by constantly reminding her to believe in herself.

Cape Breton's first lady of song died April 16 following complications from surgery. 

The outpouring of love and respect following her death was one of the most emotional news events of the year in Nova Scotia.

5. Support for Scott Jones

Scott Jones holds up his own Don't be afraid sign. Nova Scotians have helped raise more than $113,000 for the musician after he was stabbed. (Facebook)

On Oct. 12, Scott Jones life changed forever after a vicious attack in downtown New Glasgow left him paralyzed from the waist-down.

Jones and his friends believe he was attacked because he is openly gay. 

Instead of feeling sorry for himself, Jones sparked an awareness campaign encouraging people to speak up against homophobia. People from across Canada and from as far away as France sent notes in support of Jones and his cause. 

“Acknowledging and letting go of fear can lead to a deeper level of acceptance. Don’t be afraid to face your fear; don’t be afraid to love and accept yourself,” said Jones.

4. A matter of taste 

Lori Perron said people came out in droves, passing by her house and showing their support for her Easter decorations. (CBC)

One family's festive Easter decorations were another's eyesore that sparked a massive backlash after someone sent the Perron family of Dartmouth a nasty letter

"Dear homeowners," the letter read. "Before Easter comes, the community asks that you do not demoralize our subdivision and street with yet again, your very tacky decorations. Halloween and Christmas was enough. Perhaps you should consider that this area is a step above you."

After the letter, Lori Perron fought back, amping up the tacky factor for Easter. After the story went public, supporters came out in droves to support the Perron's holiday flair. 

3. Smoking allegations ground Sunwing Flight

The incident also resulted in an audio spoof featuring "The Smoking MacNeils," which makes reference to some of the island's other famous families including performers the Barra MacNeils and the Rankins. (iStock)

The story of a Cape Breton family accused of smoking aboard a Sunwing Airlines flight bound for the Dominican Republic put a small community on the map and caused a viral sensation.

Three members of the MacNeil family — David MacNeil, 54, Darlene MacNeil, 52, and David MacNeil Jr., 22 — were arrested after a south-bound flight last February had to be diverted to Bermuda when at least one MacNeil was accused of smoking on the plane. A younger, unidentified son was also on the flight.

The incident sparked discussions on social media about Cape Breton and the hamlet of Mabou, which has previously been celebrated as the home of the Rankin Family, the popular Celtic pop band.

2. Saint Mary's University frosh chant 

People were shocked when a video of the chant by SMU student leaders was posted online. (Instagram)

A Saint Mary's University frosh week chant glorifying underage sex sparked disgust and anger after a video was posted on social media in September. 

The 15-second video posted to Instagram showed orientation week leaders leading a cheer about the sexual preferences of Saint Mary University men.

On a crowded football field they shout out, "Y is for your sister [...] U is for underage, N is for no consent [...] Saint Mary’s boys we like them young."

Anger over attitudes that promote the objectification of women came into focus and prompted a review of sexual assault prevention and alcohol consumption at Nova Scotia student unions. 

1. The death of Rehtaeh Parsons

Rehtaeh Parsons was 17 when she died.

One of the biggest stories of 2013 touched off a firestorm of shock and anger, prompting discussions across the country about cyberbullying.

After 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons died in April, her mother penned a Facebook entry about the anguish her daughter felt after she was relentlessly taunted at school over a photo. Rehtaeh's parents alleged that photo was taken during a sexual assault and it was circulated at school and online.

Her death prompted several reviews of law enforcement and judicial processes and spurred the creation of provincial and federal laws designed to protect victims of bullying.

Honourable Mention: The man who took on Air Canada — and won

Gabor Lukacs challenged Air Canada's compensation for people bumped off flights. (CBC)

Air Canada was forced to pay more to customers for overbooking flights, thanks to one man's battle with the airline.

Gabor Lukacs started investigating compensation in 2011 after discovering his flight was overbooked. 

The Canadian Transportation Agency said overbooking is an acceptable industry practice, but the compensation Air Canada offers — a blanket rate of $100 cash or a $200 voucher — isn't reasonable.

Air Canada now has to compensate bumped passengers in cash for as much as $800, depending on the length of the delay.