The highlights and lowlights of 2018 in Toronto

In a lot of ways, 2018 was a terrible year. Children ate laundry detergent for some reason, a bunch of cool famous people died—and, oh yeah, the world’s economic and social safety nets continued to dissolve into nothing. On the plus side: legal cannabis! Drake doing stuff! And so on! Here, a look at the highs and lows of 2018, from Toronto’s perspective.

The highlights and lowlights of 2018 in Toronto
Schultz stands on the site of the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in the Distillery District, which was completed in 2006. Photograph by Getty Images

The board of directors of Soulpepper Theatre Company reveals that Albert Schultz, the company’s co-founder and artistic director, has been fired following a series of allegations of sexual assault and harassment from former actors and employees, which Shultz denies. Leah McLaren later wrote a story about Schultz for Toronto Life.

Bruce McArthur is arrested, at first for the murders of two men: Selim Esen and Andrew Kinsman. By April, McArthur is accused of a total of eight murders, and the police are saying that he hid some of his alleged victims’ remains in planters on the property of at least one of his landscaping clients.


Dellen Millard and Mark Smich, who were convicted earlier of the murder of Tim Bosma, are ordered to serve life sentences for the murder of Laura Babcock.

Jerry Howarth announces his retirement from calling Jays games on the radio, after 36 seasons, because of health concerns.


The Shape of Water, which was filmed in Toronto, wins Best Picture at the Academy Awards, shocking many who were expecting a win by Call Me By Your Name or The Post.

The highlights and lowlights of 2018 in Toronto
Photo from FordNation/Facebook

Doug Ford wins leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party, after Christine Elliott concedes. Only six weeks earlier, the previous party leader, Patrick Brown, had resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct, which he denies.


Catherine Tait, a film and television executive, becomes the first woman to head CBC/Radio-Canada since its founding in 1952.

An April 6 bus crash in Saskatchewan claims the lives of 16 people associated with the Humboldt Broncos, a junior ice hockey team. The crash becomes a galvanizing moment for Canadians, who leave hockey sticks out on their porches to commemorate the players and staff who died. A GoFundMe raises over $15 million for the victims and their families.

A rental van careens onto a stretch of Yonge Street sidewalk in North Toronto on April 23, killing 10 people and injuring 16 others. The driver, 25-year-old Alek Minassian, reportedly considered himself an “incel”—a member of a loose online community of “involuntarily celibate” men. He was later charged with multiple counts of murder.

The highlights and lowlights of 2018 in Toronto
Image from Kensington Palace/Instagram

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle marry at Windsor Castle’s St. George’s Chapel. Prior to joining the royal family, Markle lived in Toronto, where she shot her television show, Suits.


On June 7, Doug Ford becomes Ontario’s new Premier. The final tally is 76 seats for the PCs and 40 for the NDP. Ex-premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal party wins just seven seats, meaning it no longer qualifies for “official party” status.


Nick Nurse is named the new head coach of the Toronto Raptors. He takes over for Dwane Casey, who had been fired after the Raps lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

The highlights and lowlights of 2018 in Toronto
Photo from Champagnepapi/Instagram

Drake releases a 25-track album called Scorpion. It breaks streaming records on Spotify and Apple Music, with 132 million and 170 million plays, respectively, within the first 24 hours.


The Raptors trade away DeMar DeRozan, one of the team’s biggest stars, for a pair of players from the San Antonio Spurs: Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard. Although DeRozan is considered an honourary Torontonian by many fans, his $139 million (U.S.) contract and overall lack of playoff success makes the swap somewhat palatable.

Drake becomes the first artist to hit 10 billion streams on Apple Music. Take that, Pusha T.

Jacob Hoggard, lead singer of the band Hedley, is arrested and charged with sexual assault by Toronto Police. The charges stem from three separate incidents involving one woman and one girl. His preliminary hearing will be in July.


On July 22, around 10 p.m., 29-year-old Faisal Hussain uses a semi-automatic pistol to shoot at passersby near Danforth and Logan Avenue. Two people die, thirteen people are wounded and Hussain commits suicide after a shootout with police.


Toronto receives $11 million in federal funding to help with a post-Trump influx of asylum seekers. The money is earmarked to help transfer people from short-term housing, like motels and dorms, to long-term accommodations.


Premier Doug Ford threatens to use the notwithstanding clause to override a court ruling against his move to slash the size of Toronto city council, which he deems too large, from 47 wards to 25. In the end, Ford doesn’t have to do anything of the sort: a higher court stays the ruling and the municipal election proceeds under the 25-ward model.

Jian Ghomeshi writes an essay for the New York Review of Books, in which he jokes that he’s a “pioneer” of the #MeToo movement. No one finds it funny.

The highlights and lowlights of 2018 in Toronto
Markian Lozowchuk

John Tory beats former chief city planner Jennifer Keesmaat in the mayoral election. Less fortunate is long-time city council agitator Giorgio Mammoliti, who loses his seat to another incumbent councillor, Anthony Perruzza.


Cannabis is finally legalized nationwide on October 17. Celebrations happen across the city as Torontonians rejoice in their first legal puffs. In the weeks that follow, Ontarians have trouble buying their legal weed from the Ontario Cannabis Store, which is plagued by logistical problems.

The organizers of Toronto Pride say that Toronto police officers will be able to march in the 2019 parade, assuming they meet certain conditions. This puts an end to a two-year ban on uniformed police marching in the parade, after a Black Lives Matter protest in 2016.


A shooting on November 18 put Toronto at 90 homicides, breaking a record set in 1991, when there were 89.

A series of alleged incidents of assault and sexual assault at the prestigious all-boys St. Michael’s College lead to the expulsions, then arrests, of several students. The school’s principal, Greg Reeves, and its president, Father Jefferson Thompson, both resign.


In response to the new Ontario government’s decision to license private cannabis retailers, Toronto city councillors vote 20-4 in favour of allowing legal weed stores to open in the city.



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