Biggest Toronto Moments of 2017 (Best of 2017)

Our most-read local stories of the year

From catastrophic flooding to one of the city’s most popular public spaces, to free premium streaming of adult videos in Parkdale, 2017 delivered both highs and lows in Toronto. With an eye on the local stories our readers clicked on the most, here’s a look at Toronto’s biggest moments from 2017.

Indie88’s Best of 2017 is presented with the Samsung Galaxy Note8

Toronto Islands flooding

Spring storms and heavy rainfall contributed rising water levels in Lake Ontario, which in turn flooded a significant portion of Centreville and caused Toronto Islands to be closed to the public for three months. The park finally reopened at the end of July, but images of flood waters covering the public space remain some of the most shocking sights the city’s seen in recent memory.

Toronto photographer Danny Williams captured some amazing images after paddling over to the island in May.

Women’s March

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Thousands of people gathered at Queen’s Park in January and marched to Nathan Phillips Square to stand up for women’s rights, and raise awareness to issues such a violence against women, racism, and more, in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington.

Lido Pimienta wins the Polaris Music Prize

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Lido Pimienta took home one of Canada’s biggest music prizes for her record La Papessa at the Carlu in September. The Colombian-Canadian musician and songwriter was awarded the 12th annual Polaris Music Prize for the Canadian record judged to be the best based on artistic merit.

La Papessa beat out an impressive crop of competitors that included records from A Tribe Called Red, 2014 winner Tanya Tagaq, 2012 winner Feist, Gord Downie, Weaves, Leonard Cohen, Lisa Leblanc, Leif Vollebekk, and BADBADNOTGOOD.

Toronto Cop Trying Not To Laugh About Weed on Camera Goes Viral

A false alarm hostage shut down part of King Street in October after it was reported that a person entered a cannabis shop with a gun. Though the whole incident was determined as a false alarm, Toronto police took every precaution in the two hour stand-off.

One Torontonian, an avid pot smoker broke the tension during the press announcement by asking if since the investigation was over, he could go in and purchase some weed. The Police officer couldn’t hold back her laughter.


The Silver Dollar shuts down

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After nearly sixty years underneath the Waverly Hotel, the Silver Dollar Room closed its doors for good in 2017. The iconic Spadina Avenue venue joined several notable live music haunts that shuttered operations over the past year-plus, including Soybomb, The Hideout, the Central, and Hugh’s Room.

The Silver Dollar held its final show in April, with Toronto noise-rockers METZ holding the honour of the final performer.

Susur Lee restaurant scandal

An image submitted to CBC by Dylan Turner.

Workers at the Susur Lee-owned restaurants Fring’s, Lee, and the now-closed Bent have revealed some awful practices earlier this year. As CBC reported, spilling a drink, showing up with the wrong order, or punching in the wrong order were things that employees routinely got tip money taken away to cover costs. There was an IOU system that appeared on their tip envelopes, that showed the costs of their mistakes and the money taken away, some totaling up to $100.

In a memo posted at Fring’s in August, Susur Lee and his sons Kai and Levi apologized for keeping the antiquated system in place for as long as it did, stating that it has been “eliminated” from all their restaurants.

The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern turned 70

If you’re a music fan in Toronto, chances are you have some fond memories seeing a band you love at the Horseshoe Tavern. The legendary venue’s storied history stretches back to 1947 when local entrepreneur Jack Starr purchased the building at 368-370 Queen Street West with the goal of opening up a restaurant-tavern that doubled as a music venue. The Horseshoe Tavern officially opened its doors on December 9th, 1947. Seventy years later, the ‘Shoe remains one of Canada’s most important and cherished venues.

The Horseshoe is still as relevant as ever, and right now they’re celebrating their 70th anniversary with a special concert series that runs until the end of the year. Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs, Lowest of the Low, Skydiggers, Julian Taylor Band, Jim Cuddy, the Constantines, Rheostatics and the Tea Party are all taking the legendary stage over the next month before The Sadies celebrate new years eve at the Horseshoe (as is tradition.)

Gord Downie’s Massey Hall surprise appearance

Blue Rodeo returned to Toronto’s Massey Hall in February with The Sadies and a special unannounced guest – Gord Downie.

Before the encore, Downie strolled on stage in his familiar denim jacket and jeans that he had been sporting during his Secret Path shows this past fall, waved to the audience and kissed his longtime brothers in Canadiana. Holding a piece of paper with the lyrics in hand, Downie smiled and sang along with his friends to Blue Rodeo’s 1992 anthem, “Lost Together.”

Downie passed away in October following a battle with brain cancer.


Free Pornhub Premium for Parkdale residents

Who knew that the team behind Pornhub were such philanthropists? A post by the porn site that has recently surfaced on Reddit describes the site’s sympathy towards Toronto residents that have been negatively impacted by Toronto’s housing crisis, particularly those living in Parkdale, which is one of the neighbourhoods that have been directly affected.

The duck that divided a city

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The city of Toronto paid big money to haul a giant duck into Lake Ontario as part of its celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. Many residents called the $200,000 a waste of money, while others applauded the city’s efforts to boost tourism. In the end, it helped boost spending in the Harbourfront “duck zone” over the Canada Day weekend.

Moneris’ vice-president of financial institutions and partners, Malcolm Fowler, reported that an increase in credit and debit transactions occurred in Toronto on Canada Day weekend — the same weekend that hosted Toronto’s Giant Duck. According to Fowler, downtown Toronto saw a 13 per cent increase in credit and debit transactions compared to 2016’s Canada Day weekend. Additionally, Harbourfront alone saw a 17 per cent increase over last year’s weekend. Fowler referred to Harbourfront as “the duck zone.”

Stay tuned to over the coming weeks for our entire
Best of 2017 series.
Up next: Biggest Celebrity Moments of 2017 (Wednesday, December 13th)


Image via Danny Williams/Reddit