2013 in review: 7 oddball stories

In a year in which the mayor admitted smoking crack cocaine and dozens of people got sick eating contaminated jam that had been slathered on cronut burgers, it is a challenge to pick out the strangest events that occurred.

Dancing crossing guard, scotch thief among strange things that happened in Toronto this year

More than 200 people became ill with Staphylococcus aureus after eating contaminated "cronut" burgers at the CNE this summer -- but it still wasn't one of the strangest events to occur in Toronto during 2013. (CBC)

In a year in which the mayor admitted to smoking crack cocaine and dozens of people got sick eating contaminated jam that had been slathered on cronut burgers, it is a challenge to pick out the strangest events that occurred.

Yet, when you flip through the bygone calendar pages of 2013, you can easily find some lesser-known stories that will make you wonder why they unfolded, or if stranger things will happen in the year to come.

‘Dead’ baby found to be alive

A woman gave birth unexpectedly while walking to a hospital in north Toronto on a very cold day in mid-February.

At the hospital, the baby girl was wrongly declared dead and then placed under a sheet.

As police guarded the room and waited for a coroner to arrive, an officer noticed the sheet was moving – it turned out the baby was actually alive.

The hospital said it would undertake a review of its procedures in the wake of the incident.

Child makes his own drive-thru at McDonalds

It was at the end of March that a four-year-old boy put his parents’ Toyota Camry in drive outside a McDonalds near Jane Street and Finch Avenue.

The vehicle struck the restaurant on a Sunday afternoon, while his dad was inside getting food. His mom was sitting in the back seat of the car.

Luckily no one was hurt.

Police said the boy’s mother initially claimed that she was driving the car when it hit the restaurant, but witnesses told a different story.

Plaid-shirted thief takes $26K booze bottle

A man in a plaid Burberry shirt strolled into a downtown LCBO this past April and walked out with a very rare bottle of scotch.

A 700-millilitre bottle of 50-year-old Glenfiddich single malt scotch was stolen from a Toronto LCBO in April. (Toronto Police Service)
The 50-year-old Glenfiddich single malt scotch whisky was one of only 15 being sold in Ontario. The 700 mL bottle was worth an estimated $26,000.

Police issued a description of the suspect, who also wore a trench coat, a brown hat and black jeans.

The liquor was not recovered and the suspect has yet to be arrested.

Thieves roll piano out of hospital

Two men walked into Toronto General Hospital on July 14 and proceeded to put a baby grand piano onto a dolly.

They said they were taking the instrument to be serviced, before taking it down to a loading area and putting it into a cargo van.

The hospital soon let the media know that someone had taken the piano.

Fortunately, it was recovered within days, and police revealed that someone had sold it to a business.

Police have since made an arrest in the case.

Jose Canseco tells Mayor Ford to say no to drugs

Former big-league ballplayer Jose Canseco came to town in July as part of a promotional event for a submarine sandwich shop.

Former home run king and Blue Jay slugger Jose Canseco, who has admitted to his own steroid use, urged Mayor Rob Ford to "stop using drugs."
Canseco, who has admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during his time in Major League Baseball, offered the following advice to Mayor Ford: “Stop using drugs.”

At the time that Canseco was visiting Toronto in July, Ford was denying that he had used crack cocaine.

A little over three months later, the mayor would admit to having smoked crack cocaine, as well as to buying illegal drugs and drinking to excess.

Man offers to sell fraction of his house

There is always talk about Toronto’s sky-high real estate prices, which is part of the reason why a man living near Trinity Bellwoods Park offered buyers the chance to buy a fraction of his house.

In late July, Larry Chilton was offering to sell his whole house for $1.7 million, half of it for $960,000, or a quarter of it for $479,000.

While Chilton’s plan caught the attention of the media, at least one real-estate lawyer thought his fractional sale offer was too problematic to recommend to his own clients.

Crossing guard told not to dance

Kathleen Byers, a veteran crossing guard and former fitness instructor, is known for her flashy moves as she guides children across the street.

But near the end of this year, police told her to put a stop to her fancy footwork, for fear that it could be distracting drivers.

The order to drop the dancing upset the 64-year-old, as well as her many school-aged fans.

Some students have urged police to “let her dance,” but so far, police say their priority is keeping those same students safe.