Here are CBC Toronto's most-viewed stories of 2018

The headlines were dominated by a series of tragedies, major political upheaval and, as always, a number of curious oddities.

From violent attacks to political upheaval, Toronto captured the world's attention in 2018

A number of killings brought the city together in mourning and solidarity throughout the year. (Galit Rodan/The Canadian Press)

With 2019 nearly here, it's time to take a look back at the biggest news stories of the year in Toronto — and what a year it was.

Headlines were dominated by a series of tragedies, major political upheaval, and as always, a number of curious oddities.

Without a doubt, Toronto captured the world's attention in 2018. 

Here are CBC Toronto's top 10 most-viewed stories of the year.

1. Toronto van attack

On April 23, a white rental van tore down a busy stretch of Yonge Street, killing 10 people and wounding 16 others. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Canadian Press)

The Toronto van attack only lasted a few minutes, but it permanently altered the lives of 26 victims and hundreds of witnesses.

On April 23, a white rental van tore down one of Toronto's busiest streets, leaving deaths and injuries in its wake.

The vehicle mounted the curb, deliberately striking pedestrians as it rushed down the sidewalk. Ten people were killed and 16 others injured by the time the van came to a stop.

The attack shocked and saddened the city.

Acts of kindness big and small sprung from the tragedy, with residents distributing free flowers to lay at a memorial for the victims at Olive Square park, organizing support campaigns and donating blood in greater numbers. 

Mayor John Tory said it was all evidence of the "strength of Toronto."

CBC Toronto spoke to seven survivors as they struggled to rebuild their lives. Many, including Beverly Smith, who had both of her legs amputated, spent weeks in hospital and countless hours in rehabilitation programs, trying to move forward. 

Survivors of Toronto van attack open up about recovery

4 years ago
Duration 11:53
Two survivors of the Toronto van attack opened up to CBC News as they work through their recovery — they told CBC's Ioanna Roumelioitis they are still trying to deal with the physical and psychological scars from that attack.

Alek Minassian, 25, was charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder in the case. 

The exact motive of the attack is not known. However, all but two of those killed were women. The case is now before the courts. 

2. Danforth shooting

On a balmy Sunday evening in July, a gunman opened fire on the Danforth, the heart of the city's famous Greektown neighbourhood. (Cole Burston/Getty Images)

Three months later, a gunman wandered five blocks along Danforth Avenue, indiscriminately shooting into bustling bars and restaurants. A police source told CBC Toronto at the time that he then turned the handgun on himself. 

Two people were killed — Reese Fallon, 18, and Julianna Kozis, 10 —  and a dozen more injured in the chaos on that balmy July evening.

The shooting was one of many that rocked Canada's largest city in 2018. 

A nurse who left a friend's birthday party at a nearby eatery to rush to the aid of a person injured in the shooting didn't know the gunman was right outside. 

Danielle Kane, 31, spoke exclusively to CBC Toronto about looking into the eyes of gunman Faisal Hussain moments before she took a bullet to the spine. 

Danielle Kane describes coming face to face with Faisal Hussain before he shot her

4 years ago
Duration 0:40
When Danielle Kane rushed into the street to help an injured person, she locked eyes with the man who tried to kill her.

3. Woman arrested for driving with Canadian passport

Emily Nield, 27, filmed a video of herself in the back of a Georgia police cruiser after she was arrested for driving with a Canadian licence. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC)

When Emily Nield was pulled over for speeding on I-75 in Georgia, she thought she might end up with a ticket. But what happened next was "mortifying."

She handed over her Ontario driver's licence, and got an unexpected response from the Cook County officer.

"She kept saying, 'No, Canadian licences are not accepted,'" Nield recalled.

When Nield told the officer that she didn't have a hard copy of her Canadian passport (though she had a photo copy of it), she was handcuffed, arrested and put in jail.

"They kept saying 'You're now in the system. Any crime that's going to be committed, your fingerprints are going to be searched,'" said Nield. "I never committed a crime."

This woman filmed her arrest in U.S. for driving with Canadian license

4 years ago
Duration 0:42
Emily Nield was pulled over for speeding in Georgia, but she wasn't prepared for the officer's reaction. She was arrested for driving with an Ontario driver's license. While cuffed in the back of the police cruiser, she managed to take a video on her cellphone and send it to friends.

She ended up paying $880 US to get out of jail and another $200 to get her vehicle back from the impound.

Three days later, a judge threw out all charges against her, and Nield eventually returned to Canada. 

The Cook County Sheriff's Office denied any wrongdoing in the incident. 

4. Progressive Conservatives take power

Ontario Premier Doug Ford celebrates his party's sweeping election victory in June. The Progressive Conservatives picked up 76 seats, a considerable majority. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

After 15 years of Liberal governments in Ontario, this year brought big changes to Queen's Park. Just months after Doug Ford managed to secure the Progressive Conservative leadership, he led the Tories to a sweeping election victory in June. 

The PCs picked up 76 seats, the biggest majority in decades, and the party left its long-time political rivals decimated. A wave of anti-Liberal sentiment in the build-up to the vote culminated with Kathleen Wynne's Liberals holding on to just eight seats in the Legislature, the bare minimum needed to keep party status. 

"I promised to deliver a strong, stable majority government and together we did that. We have taken back Ontario, we have delivered a government that is for the people," Ford said during his victory party. 

The businessman and one-term Toronto city councillor has become one of the most recognizable and divisive politicians in Canada. He quickly went about rolling back Liberal initiatives and reshaping the Ontario's political landscape. 

2018 Ontario election in 90 seconds

4 years ago
Duration 1:28
This is the 2018 Ontario election in 90 seconds.

The PC's commanding election win elevated the provincial NDP to Official Opposition status, and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Ford have sparred fiercely at Queen's Park over several issues since then.

Notably, the 2018 provincial election saw a significant piece of history made: Mike Schreiner won a seat for the Green Party in Guelph. 

5. Planes collide at Pearson

A report issued months after the incident laid blame for the collision on a ground crew. (Megan Fill)

Witnesses described the scene plainly: "It was chaos."

That's what ensued when a Sunwing aircraft backed into WestJet Flight 2425, arriving from Cancun, on the ground at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

The collision caused a fuel leak, which then caught fire. The 168 WestJet passengers onboard the Boeing 737-800 immediately realized the gravity of the situation.

"After a couple of seconds, the entire thing ignited and it was chaos inside the plane. People screaming and panicking all while the flight attendants shouted to try and control the situation," passenger Gustavo Lobo said at the time. 

No one was injured in the collision and fire, and all 168 passengers and six crew were able to leave the airliner safely. 

In a report released in June, investigators said the ground crew that was towing the unoccupied Sunwing aircraft was ultimately at fault for the collision.

6. Ford wins PC leadership

Premier Doug Ford at a late night news conference back in March, where he claimed victory in the PC leadership race that followed a turbulent convention. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

When 2018 began, most political observers in Ontario assumed that former Progressive Conservative MP Patrick Brown would lead the Tory party into the spring election. 

Then, in late January, Brown resigned his post after CTV News published allegations of sexual misconduct against Brown from two women, stemming from his days as a federal MP in Barrie.

Brown's departure sent the PCs into crisis mode, and precipitated a leadership vote. Doug Ford quickly threw his name into the race, abandoning a planned bid for the mayor's seat in Toronto. 

His leadership campaign pitted him against some big names in the party, including MP Christine Elliott and Caroline Mulroney, now the province's health minister and attorney general respectively. 

A wild leadership convention ended with Ford winning the contest on the third ballot, with Elliott's camp alleging "irregularities" in the process. In the end, Elliott conceded, paving the way for Ford to become premier of Ontario. 

7. CN Tower mystery

Toronto police were stationed around some of the city's busiest tourist attractions downtown. (Barry Smith/CBC)

For those travelling downtown on the morning of July 12, it was impossible not to notice all of the police officers and cruisers swarming the city's core. 

Only months earlier, a driver at the wheel of a rental van had killed 10 people and injured 16 others in the city's north end. Toronto was still on edge, and the massive police presence around the iconic CN Tower captured the notice of media around the world.

But nobody seemed to know what was really happening, or why. The police were especially tight-lipped, which only fuelled the feverish speculation.

A spokesperson would say only that authorities had received an "unconfirmed, uncorroborated piece of information" and the police presence was there to ensure public safety at some of Toronto's busiest tourist attractions.

Some local media published an internal police memo that suggested that the force had intelligence about a "potential vehicle ramming attack," but officials later downplayed the document as a draft that was never approved by senior management.

That afternoon, police returned to "normal operations" and never revealed what really prompted the response.

Police spokespeople provided only cryptic statements about what was really happening throughout the day, fuelling speculation online. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press)

8. Sherman family investigators float new theory

Barry Sherman, 75, and his wife Honey Sherman, 70, were found dead in their North York home in December 2017. The mysterious circumstances of their slayings captured the world's attention. (United Jewish Appeal/Canadian Press)

The sudden deaths of billionaire philanthropists Barry and Honey Sherman in December 2017 shocked many of those who knew the couple well.

But the initial Toronto police suggestion that their deaths may have been a murder-suicide was even more unbelievable to some of their closest friends.

Then, in late January, a team of private investigators hired by the Sherman family turned onto a different notion: that the pharmaceutical magnate, 75, and his wife, 70, were slain by several killers.

A source with direct knowledge of the parallel probe also revealed some grisly details from the scene in the basement of the Sherman's North York mansion, including evidence that the pair had been bound together at one point before their deaths. Further, there were signs that Honey Sherman had physically struggled with her killers. 

Days after details of the private investigation were published, Toronto police revealed they had revised their theory: the Shermans were killed in a targeted double homicide, detectives said.

9. Ripley's Aquarium skinny dipper

Visitors to Ripley's Aquarium were shocked to see a man undress and jump into a massive tank that houses 17 sharks, among other marine life. (karlzway/YouTube)

Visitors to the downtown Toronto attraction on Oct. 14 got a bit more than they bargained for when a 37-year-old man from B.C. decided to strip naked and dive into the Dangerous Lagoon. 

The 2.9-million-litre tank, an underwater gallery showcasing dozens of marine animals, includes 17 sharks.

Some of David Weaver's unexpected swim was caught on amateur video. 

"The guy seemed totally relaxed and there were sharks, like, everywhere," witness Erinn Acland said. 

"I was scared I was going to witness the death of this guy."

Watch a man skinny dip with sharks at Ripley's Aquarium

4 years ago
Duration 0:56
A nude swimmer dove into the shark tank in Toronto’s Ripley’s Aquarium. No marine animals were harmed, but Toronto Police said the stunt was "extremely dangerous."

Weaver managed to slip out of Ripley's before police arrived. It was later revealed that he was, in fact, wanted for a violent assault that allegedly occurred earlier in the evening. He was arrested in Thunder Bay and was charged with assault causing bodily harm and two types of mischief.

10. Bombay Bhel explosion

About 40 people were inside the busy Mississauga restaurant when a homemade was detonated. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

On May 24, two masked individuals walked into a bustling Indian restaurant in Mississauga and detonated a bomb with nails in it, according to police. 

The blast injured 15 people, with victims ranging in age from 23 to 69 years old. Two separate private parties were underway, and several young children were in attendance. 

"Glass was broken in the street … everything was destroyed. Lots of blood in the floor," one witness said at the time.

"Many people were screaming. They were trying to run out from the restaurant."

Initially, police said they were searching for two male suspects, but later said one of the bombers was female. Investigators have not publicly released any possible motives for the attack. 

A civil lawsuit filed by six victims of the bombing alleges that they were caught-up in a war between rival businesses, but police have said there is no indications that was the case.

Police initially said there were searching for two men in the wake of the bombing, but later admitted that one of the bombers may have been a woman. (Peel Regional Police/Twitter)


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?