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HuffPost Canada's Top Viral Stories: A Year In Review

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She may have been born a male but that didn't stop Jenna Talackova from competing for the Miss Universe Canada pageant. (AP)
She may have been born a male but that didn't stop Jenna Talackova from competing for the Miss Universe Canada pageant. (AP)

The word 'viral' has a few meanings. If you've got a case of viral meningitis, you'll want to see a doctor. If your computer has a viral infection, chances are you'll be praying to some higher power that you backed up your data.

But at The Huffington Post Canada, viral news is the stuff our readers feel compelled to share -- over and over again -- with their social networks. They're the classic "water cooler" stories that get people buzzing. You can can often find them showcased on the right column of our home page. They can be tragic or hilarious, mundane or profound. Usually, they're unexpected. And they'll always get you talking.

As HuffPost Canada celebrates its first birthday, we'd be remiss not to revisit our biggest viral news stories.

More Birthday Goodness

Take the tragic tale of Emy Brochu, who died after her car crashed into the back of a tractor-trailer in Victoriaville, Que. Her boyfriend shared a series of text messages the pair had exchanged before the crash, resulting in a viral story that resonated with readers concerned about the dangers of texting and driving.

Then there's the story of Jenna Talackova, a transgender contestant in the Miss Universe Canada pageant. Her disqualification, reinstatement and eventual competition captivated readers.

Our audience also liked the story about Defence Minister Peter MacKay's marriage to girlfriend Nazanin Afshin-Jam.

Celebrity clothing choices (and lack thereof) also proved popular.

More of our biggest viral hits in the gallery below.

HuffPost Canada's Year In Viral News
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Jenna Talackova And Miss Universe Canada

The Miss Universe Canada pageant usually attracts some news every year, but 2012's contest featured something more than women in gowns and swimsuits. Organizers booted contestant Jenna Talackova when they discovered she was born a male, inspiring her fight for the right to compete with her peers.

Canada's Defence Minister Ties The Knot

Peter MacKay, voted the second sexiest male Member of Parliament, made headlines in January when he married Nazanin Afshin-Jam in a private, civil ceremony.

Lucky Sportscaster

Imagine winning the lottery. Now imagine winning the lottery while you're on live TV. Global BC sports anchor Barry Deley was caught by surprise when he won the B.C. Children's Hospital Dream Lottery.

The Kissing Couple

While Vancouver's 2011 Stanley Cup dream burned in a flurry of flames, a different sort of passion spilled into the streets. A photographer captured the kissing couple, later identified as Scott Jones and Alex Thomas, and the image went viral.

Mitchell Wilson's Death

An 11-year-old Ontario boy with muscular dystrophy, Mitchell Wilson, became a victim of assault at school and his subsequent suicide shone a spotlight on bullying in Canada's schools.

Are you in crisis? Need help? In Canada, find links and numbers to 24-hour suicide crisis lines in your province here.

The 10 Most Expensive Houses In Canada

If you thought Canada was big, just wait until you see the price tags on the 10 most expensive homes across the country.

Top Detoxifying Foods

Our top list of detoxifying foods (including beetroot and dandelions) was a big hit. Wondering what the others are? Read the post to find out.

Nutrition Month

March marked Nutrition Month in Canada, so the HuffPost Canada Living team decided to serve up something fresh by debunking 25 common food myths. If you ever wanted proof that it's OK to snack late at night, this article is for you.

Russell Williams: 'Great White Shark'

An exclusive excerpt from David A. Gibb's Camouflaged Killer detailed how Russell Williams, a former commander of Canada's largest military airfield, methodically carried out his crimes. An expert described him as the "great white shark" of sexual predators.

The 2012 Vancouver Auto Show

Hollywood celebrities may be no strangers to the camera, but neither are these cars. The 92nd Vancouver Auto Show graced Canada's West Coast with some impressive-looking machines, and even featured a few cars used in Hollywood blockbusters, like Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen.

Awkward Engagement Photos

A picture is worth a thousand words, but after taking a gander at these photos you'll probably have only two: "Um, really?"

Kienan Hebert

Kienan Hebert and his family saw a happy ending to a kidnapping ordeal when the abducted three-year-old was returned unharmed. Randall Hopley, pictured, pleaded guilty to abduction of a person under 14, kidnapping, and break and enter with the intent to commit an offence.

Conjoined Twins Separated

The before-and-after pictures of the Gaboura twins were stunning, and so was their survival story. The Sudanese twins were born with the tops of their heads joined together. Doctors separated them in a series of risky operations at a London children's hospital in September.

Face in Tumour

One of our most popular stories was about doctors at Queen's University who spotted a shocking image in a tumour: a face. Our readers helped us by contributing their own surprising images.

Will and Kate's Crazy Canadian Adventure

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge landed in Canada to much fanfare. They hit Ottawa for Canada Day, went to the East Coast, toured Slave Lake and stopped by the Calgary Stampede. Through it all, Canadians ate it up.

Attawapiskat Crisis

MP Charlie Angus wrote a blog about the plight of Attawapiskat First Nation, titled "What if They Declared an Emergency and No One Came?"

He wrote: "What we are witnessing is the inevitable result of chronic under-funding, poor bureaucratic planning and a discriminatory black hole that has allowed First Nations people to be left behind as the rest of the country moves forward."

The story resonated with thousands of Canadians, making this one of our most widely shared stories of the year.

The 2012 Academy Awards Red Carpet

What generates more discussion: Oscar winners or what Oscar winners are wearing? This year the cameras were definitely focused on what Hollywood wore... and what Angelina Jolie's leg had going on.

Where Are Your Pants, Kourtney?

While most celebrities make headlines for their gorgeous gowns and stunning taste in style, Kourtney Kardashian made the news by ditching all fashion formalities -- pants included.

The 2012 Grammy Awards

Between the Grammys and the Oscars, February marked a busy month for celebrities. Readers were busy as well, as they clicked through tons of red carpet coverage.

The Death of Emy Brochu

Emy Brochu died after her car collided with a tractor-trailer truck in Quebec in January, but the big story that followed didn't focus on her death so much as what happened afterwards.

Mathieu Fortin, Brochu's boyfriend, released the last series of texts he received from Brochu prior to her accident in an effort to remind the public about the dangers of distracted drivers.

Norway Massacre

The shocking bombing and shooting spree at two separate locations in Norway left dozens dead and a nation reeling.

Conde Nast's Best New Hotels of 2012

Year after year, Conde Nast releases its coveted Gold List; a collection of the world's finest hotels, restaurants and cruise lines. However, there hasn't been much movement in the rankings over the last few years, so HuffPost Canada Travel decided to try something different and focused on the best new hotels of 2012. Can you guess which Canadian hotels made the list?

The 10 Dirtiest Foods We Eat

While Canada has a relatively squeaky clean food system, the odd bad apple can sneak through and ruin someone's day. WalletPop.ca did some digging and got the dirt on the dirtiest foods you may be eating.

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