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2011's top stories

12/20/2011 05:08 EST | Updated 02/18/2012 05:12 EST

The past year has been a tumultuous one — the headlines that gripped online readers ranged from a devastating tsunami in Japan to a violent post-Stanley Cup loss riot in downtown Vancouver.

CBCNews.ca readers were also drawn to stories about pivotal shifts in the Canadian political landscape, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper winning a majority and the New Democrats securing a landmark number of seats to become the official Opposition.

But the most-viewed piece of 2011 wasn't written by a journalist: It was NDP Leader Jack Layton's last letter to Canadians, written days before his death on Aug. 22, and released shortly after. A story about the 61-year-old Official Opposition head's death after a battle with cancer was also the fourth most-read story of the year on CBCNews.ca.

"Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair," he wrote in his letter. "So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world."

Top 10 stories of 2011 on CBCNews.ca:

- Jack Layton's last letter to Canadians

- Japan quake, tsunami cause 'major damage'

- Harper: Majority win turns page on uncertainties

- Jack Layton remembered as 'courageous'

- Riots erupt in Vancouver after Canucks loss

- 6.4 magnitude quake shakes southwest B.C.

- Vancouver police arrest more than 100 in riot

- Edmonton store bars girl's service dog twice

- B.C. parents say 'thank you' after abducted son returned

- Canadian tourist accuses Mexican police of raping her

January:

- Canadian tourist accuses Mexican police of raping her

- 2nd suspect sought in congresswoman shooting

- Toronto policeman killed by stolen snowplow

- Accused Arizona gunman denied bail

- Kinder Surprise egg seized at U.S. border

February:

- Blizzard warning issued for southwestern Ontario

- Egypt's Mubarak quits under protest pressure

- Foreign hackers attack Canadian government

- Libyan violence draws UN condemnation

- Ont. winter storm less severe than predicted

March:

- Japan quake, tsunami cause 'major damage'

- B.C. tsunami threat passes

- Special Report: Japan rebuilds

- Japanese helicopters dump water on nuclear reactor

- Partial meltdown likely: Japanese official

April:

- William, Kate unite in fairy-tale wedding

- Driver stopped had armchair for passenger seat

- Harper 'tossed me under a bus': Guergis

- William and Kate wedding details emerge

- Kate's wedding dress a labour of lace

May:

- Harper: Majority win turns page on uncertainties

- Fire destroys 40% of Slave Lake

- Ignatieff quits as Liberal leader

- Bin Laden death ends 10-year manhunt

- Obama monitored top-secret Bin Laden raid

June:

- Riots erupt in Vancouver after Canucks loss

- Vancouver police arrest more than 100 in riot

- Vancouver riot's kissing couple uncovered

- Will and Kate warmly received in Ottawa

- Tories prepare to end Canada Post labour dispute

July:

- Singer Amy Winehouse found dead

- Jack Layton to take leave after new cancer found

- Norway island camp massacre claims 80

- Prince William and Kate bid farewell to P.E.I.

- Will and Kate thrill Slave Lake residents

August:

- Jack Layton's last letter to Canadians

- Jack Layton remembered as 'courageous'

- Plane crash near Resolute Bay kills 12

- Olivia Chow, NDP MPs greet Layton mourners

- Virginia earthquake's tremors felt far and wide

September:

- 6.4 magnitude quake shakes southwest B.C.

- B.C. parents say 'thank you' after abducted son returned

- Plane crash kills KHL team in hockey's 'darkest day'

- Canadians with mental illnesses denied U.S. entry

- B.C. child abduction suspect to appear in court

October:

- Edmonton store bars girl's service dog twice

- Ontario's McGuinty re-elected, but loses majority

- Gadhafi killed in crossfire, Libyan PM says

- Apple co-founder Steve Jobs dies at 56

- Rob Ford denies calling 911 dispatcher names

November:

- Bill would make wearing masks during riots a crime

- Occupy Vancouver death dooms protest camp

- Calgary buildings damaged in storm

- Remembrance Day: Lest we forget

- Retired couple billed $50,000 despite travel insurance

December (first week):

- Attawapiskat leader threatens civil disobedience

- Stop building junk on reserves, says Mike Holmes

- Shafia father denies involvement in family members' deaths

- Winnipeg teen's Drummer Boy video a hit

- Shafia witness says honour worth more than life

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