Illustration by Brian McLachlan/Torontoist.
Torontoist published a little less than three thousand articles in 2009, but some were inevitably more popular than others—for traffic, the internet sure loved short paragraphs and funny photos (preferably with nudity!); for comments, you readers sure enjoyed things you could argue about; and for “likes,” which accumulate whenever you click on the “like” button below a post, you sure did renew our faith in humanity by leaning a little more towards our thoughtful pieces.
It was an exciting year for more than just all those articles and all you fine readers, new or old: after much drama last December, Torontoist changed hands to a team of local investors in April. We also become partners with a paper you might have heard of in May.
But hearing about how lovely we are isn’t why you’re here, right? We’ll just have to prove it. Bring on the copy-edited Star memos, accidentally printed penises, crappy advertising, and amazing puns: here are some of Torontoist’s most popular articles of 2009.
1 Disgruntled Star Editor Takes Constructive Revenge
Don’t you hate it when you lay off people, and then they prove their value to your organization in particularly appropriate ways? A Toronto Star editor effectively demonstrated the importance of editors by (wouldn’t you know it?!) editing Star publisher John Cruickshank’s memo to staff announcing the massive outsourcing of editing jobs.
Illustration by Brett Lamb/Torontoist.
3 Hangin’ Out at St. Peter’s
As Regret the Error put it, it was “the most famous peter in Peterborough”: a photographer for the Peterborough Examiner snapped a shot of a young man’s penis falling out of his Coors Light shorts—a photo syndicated in Metro and distributed to that free daily’s massive readership. When it comes to mistakes, Metro has really had an underwhelming breast. Er, year.
Photo by Juanita Koo.
4 Torontoist’s Birthday Cupcake Bake-Off
To celebrate Toronto’s 175th birthday, we asked you to make Toronto-themed cupcakes, and you totally blew our minds with your submissions, which ranged from subway maps, to gumpaste and fondant Honest Ed’s tributes, to Juanita Koo’s astounding winning collection (pictured in part above).
5 Rosie DiManno Libels the Dead Anyway
When Jarvis Collegiate teacher David Dewees killed himself two days after being charged with two counts of invitation to sexual touching and two counts of luring, the Star‘s Rosie DiManno took it upon herself to imagine the mindset that led to his decision, asserting that “his kink” was “a sexual attraction to boys,” when no court of law had proven his guilt.
Photo by Matt Kim/Torontoist.
6 Boards of Ed
All about Honest Ed’s iconic hand-painted signs, the men who create them, and the dying art they practise.
7 Street Heart
When street artist Posterchild decided to propose marriage to his girlfriend, Sonja, he just had to be all fancy about it: he made a special piece of street art just for her, then tricked her into helping install it.
Photo by Marc Lostracco/Torontoist.
8 Family, Valued
More than one hundred same-sex couples have adopted children since 2000. We looked at the services that make those adoptions happen, and the families that come from them.
Photo by Ayngelina Brogan/Torontoist.
10 Blanche Slate: Nuit Blanche Live
Torontoist stayed up all night during this year’s Nuit Blanche, with our photographers and writers circling the city and relaying the best of what we saw, found, and heard. Those updates were also broadcast live onto the wall of the Art Gallery of Ontario. (So wait, were we documenting the art? Or were we part of it? We’ve got a three-thousand page manifesto about that forthcoming.) The day after Nuit Blanche, we tried to think about how to make it better next year.
11 A Snapshot in Time
Jeff Low finds old photographs of Toronto, then re-shoots them today, as closely as possible to the original, to juxtapose the city’s past and present. They’re really cool.
12 Bicycle Ticketed for Excessive Awesomeness
Cyclists aren’t usually fond of getting tickets, but artist Leanne Eisen found a pleasant surprise on her classic Dutch Batavus at the end of the summer: a citation for her “badass” and “unique” bike.
13 So, Anything Weird Happen While I Was Away?
Let’s get this out of the way: one of the most popular videos to grace Torontoist’s pages this year might be fake. Jay David told the Post that his video, of emails he received from an increasingly panicked girlfriend while he was on a trip she forgot he was on, was “inspired by truth, written for fun.” Good thing it doesn’t make what he created any less funny.
14 Nowhere to Hide from Google Street View
We spent much of 2009 stalking Google’s Street View cars; when Google Street View finally launched on October 7, we revelled in the fruits of Google’s labour and showed off our favourite finds from it.
Photo by Nick Kozak/Torontoist.
15 Forget Paving Paradise, Let’s Just Dig a Giant Hole in It
Sometimes, important things happen outside of Toronto. We’re blowing your mind, we know, but the story of the small township of Melancthon’s fight over a massive quarry—which we told in November—is the kind of thing that every citizen of Ontario should know (and care) about.
16 Terence Corcoran Hates Your Bike
In what we’re still hoping was somehow satire despite a lack of any evidence of it being so, the Post‘s Terence Corcoran broke down the “free ride” cyclists get, including alleging that cyclists skirt paying for their…carbon footprints? We almost forgot how crazy that article was, Terence Corcoran.
17 Stopping to Take in Yonge Street
People like timelapse videos. It doesn’t matter if they’re of garbage during the summer strike or snow during a late-fall storm: if someone records a video in which things happen faster than they would in real life, several someones-else will eat it up. Especially us. Ismail Atiev and Djabrail Tataev walked the forty-two kilometres of Yonge Street in fourteen hours, photographing each other along the way, shrunk their experience down to three minutes, and a star was born.
Photo by Tom Podolec.
18 We Like Big Jets and We Can Not Lie
The Airbus A380 is the world’s largest passenger aircraft and undoubtedly one of its most luxurious, and unless you are very very very very rich, our feature about it—written just after its inaugural flight into Toronto—may be the only chance you have to get a detailed look inside.
Photo by Michael Chrisman/Torontoist.
19 Green Sleeves
Sean Martindale and Eric Cheung spent their summer putting plants inside posters that they cut and bent and rolled to serve the purpose. Torontoist spent a very early morning in Kensington Market with the pair at the end of July as they worked. (Martindale, as it’d turn out, had a few more creations that’d strike our fancy.)
Photo by Nick Kozak/Torontoist.
20 A Better Toronto, According to a Bunch of Kids
At Bunch Family Salon in March—an event for cool kids and cool parents that focused, this year, on city-building—we interviewed some of the kids about what they liked, disliked, and would change about Toronto. The second-favourite place of Luke (above), is “mummy’s office, where she works.”
Most Viewed1 Nowhere to Hide from Google Street View
Photo by Meg Campbell/Torontoist.
2 The Great Torontoist Pun Hunt
For several months in 2008, Torontoist’s staff—with the help of our readers—tracked down sixty-two Toronto businesses with amazing puns in their names. If anyone asks if there’s a clothing store called Boulevard of Broken Seams, a shoe store called Shoe La La, a haircutter called British Hairlines, or a pub called the Pour House, the answer is yes, and thank gosh for that.
Photo by Michael Chrisman/Torontoist.
5 Hold It Now and Watch the Hoodwink
The people behind Joshua Jackson flick One Week tried their hand at an unconventional ad strategy: instead of filling full-page ads with critics’ praise of the film, fill full-page ads with YouTube comments left on the film’s trailer. Who wants a pro’s opinion when you get a promotional nugget like “Joshua Jackson’s best role to date but how about that Gord Downie he’s so awesome and Canadian!”?
9 “Women: stop ignoring and mistreating young men.”
Someone fired up Microsoft Word and whipped out a tape dispenser and covered downtown Toronto in 8 1/2 x 11″ sheets of paper pleading with unnamed “women” to, well, “stop ignoring and mistreating young men.” We’re going to go ahead and guess that the Calibri-typed plea went unheeded.
10 Martin Streek is Dead
Former Edge 102 DJ Martin Streek committed suicide at the beginning of July, a few months after being dismissed from the station. In the days after his death, many fans saw fit to take their rage out on NOW‘s Susan G. Cole, after she implied in her initial obituary that it was “dangerous excess” that contributed to Streek’s death, without any evidence of that being the case. Eye, meanwhile said goodbye to Streek—later, one of our Heroes of 2009—with a much more thoughtful obituary.
Photo by J Deschamps.
12 Boo, Yeah!
Halloween and Church Street: a match made in costume heaven. We picked but a few of our favourite get-ups out of the hundreds upon hundreds on display. (We hold a special place in our heart for this Anna Wintour.)
13 A Breezier Way to Ride the Rocket
Improv in Toronto’s No-Pants Subway Ride features people, without pants, riding the subway. And you no-good perverts ate it right up, didn’t you??!!? Sheesh, can’t a group of strangers ride public transportation while conspicuously not wearing pants?
Photo by Miles Storey/Torontoist.
Photo by Andrew Louis/Torontoist.
1 Rude Bwoys, They Heard The News Today, Oh Boy: Blackface Edition, and A Lesson on Blackface
We didn’t expect the story of a pack of university students who attended a Halloween party dressed as the Jamaican bobsled team to go as far as it did, but it turns out that people are a little sensitive about blackface.
Photo by Christopher Drost/Torontoist.
2 Tamils Take to the Gardner and Torontoist vs. Torontoist in… Tamil Protests
From March on (and on and on), steadfast Tamil protesters, protesting escalating violence in Sri Lanka, kept themselves in the news, but never moreso than on the lovely May afternoon when several thousand took over the Gardiner Expressway on foot. Our photographers converged on the scene, staying with the protesters until they left long after sunset. People freaked out about it, but such was the trend this year.
Photo by Michael D’Amico.
3 Tall Poppy Interview: Anser
In his (or is it her?) first interview, the street artist responsible for scrawling faces around Toronto talked to Torontoist about the process for picking a spot and painting (and often re-painting and re-painting) a portrait there, the line between street art and graffiti, and if there was a real woman attached to one of the city’s most recognizable faces. (Short answer: no. Long answer: “It could be like subconscious, that subconsciously I started with a certain person.”)
Photo courtesy of Illegal Signs.
4 Billboard Companies Protest Billboard Tax…On Illegal Billboards
If there are two things that outdoor advertising companies love, it’s breaking the law and not getting taxed. That would make 2009 doubly bad, and the future of billboard advertising in Toronto even worse.
6 I Am CUPE, Hear Me Roar
Wait, did we say PETA was internet Beetlejuice? We meant Israel. Or heck, unions. We’d forgive you if you forgot about what happened at the beginning of 2009, when CUPE Ontario proposed a “a ban on Israeli academics doing speaking, teaching or research work at Ontario universities,” presumably because CUPE’s new year’s resolution for 2009 was to be really stupid.
Photo by David Topping/Torontoist.
9 TTC Kills the Radio Star
In a year of questionable advertising, few ads were worse than Virgin Radio’s “Give Your Radio a Reason to Live” posters, one ad of which featured a radio teetering on the edge of a subway platform, apparently about to commit radiocide. Worse: those ads were displayed on transit shelters, when it goes without saying that the TTC is resolutely anti-suicide. And yet, after the TTC told us they planned to take the ads down, the transit organization didn’t do so swell of a job.
11 Putting Parks First
Hey, remember the city workers’ strike? And the residents living near Christie Pits who protested against the park being used as a temporary dump site a little more than a week into the strike? And then the strike went on to last another three weeks? That was very fun.
11 Evolutionary Psychology
It’s safe to say that Richard Dawkins is a bit of jerk, even if his jerk-iness is justified. The question, which we mulled over when he arrived in Toronto for a lecture at the end of September, is whether that helps or hurts his cause.
14 Is “No Pets Allowed” Allowed?
Can landlords prevent you from renting a unit if you have a pet? We broke down the laws and rights to try to explain the answer.
Photo by Nick Kozak/Torontoist.
15 They Heard the News Today, Oh Boy: City Workers’ Strike Edition
People on the internet sure do like to get angry. That’s why we’ve got a column called They Heard the News Today, Oh Boy, which picks apart the worst of the worst comments on local media sites. Its very first edition, about the nearly over city workers’ strike, took out the (comment) trash.