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A year of coronavirus in Canada: A look back at what we’ve faced during the pandemic

It’s been a roller-coaster ride for many of us during Canada’s first year of the coronavirus pandemic from the first lockdown to the arrival of vaccines.

Here’s a look back at what we’ve faced these past 12 months. 

COVID-19 arrives in Canada

Canada reported its first “presumptive” case of COVID-19 on Jan. 25, 2020, a few weeks after Chinese health officials identified a new strain of coronavirus in Wuhan, China.

The patient was a man in his 50s who had just days earlier returned to Toronto from Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak at the time. He fell ill almost immediately on his return and was admitted to Sunnybrook Hospital where he stayed for about a week before being discharged.

On the day Canada confirmed its first case, travellers were seen wearing masks as a precaution as they arrived at Pearson International Airport.

cda coronavirus 20200125

(Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Earlier that week, passengers were also spotted wearing masks as they arrived at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C.

china outbreak canada 20200123

(Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Stranded Canadian families, vacationers repatriated

Canadians in Wuhan were left in limbo as the city of more than 11 million people went into lockdown and return flights to Canada were cancelled. In early February, federal officials on the ground there co-ordinated the evacuation of hundreds of Canadians from the region, including Fredericton’s Michael Schellenberg and his family.

They and other evacuees had to quarantine for two weeks at CFB Trenton in Trenton, Ont., on their return.

michael schellenberg

(Submitted by Michael Schellenberg)

Canadians who had been aboard the coronavirus-hit Grand Princess cruise ship step off a plane at CFB Trenton on March 10, 2020, after being repatriated via Oakland, Calif.

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(Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press)

Lockdown, lineups and shortages

An empty street in Calgary is shown on April 2, 2020, after COVID-19 restrictions went into effect.

empty calgary

(Monty Kruger/CBC)

Panic-buying and stockpiling led to bare shelves at many grocery stores, including this Superstore location in Richmond, B.C., on March 17, 2020. 

empty store shelves

(Ben Nelms/CBC)

Toilet paper was in short supply at stores across the country, including this Save on Foods location in Vancouver on April 16, 2020.

toilet paper

(Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Customers wait in a lineup outside to shop at a Costco Wholesale store in Burnaby, B.C., on April 21, 2020. 

covid 19 costco lineup

(Ben Nelms/CBC)

COVID-19 in long-term care homes, patients in ICUs

An elderly woman sits near a window at the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver on March 14, 2020. According to B.C.’s top doctor Dr. Bonnie Henry, four residents and 12 staff members tested positive for COVID-19 at the seniors’ facility where Canada’s first death from the virus occurred on March 8. 

covid 19 death lynn valley care centre

(Ben Nelms/CBC)

Registered nurse Liana Perruzza attends to a patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver on April 21, 2020.  

yearphotos2020 20201214

(Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

A patient suspected of having COVID-19 receives treatment in the ICU at North York General Hospital in Toronto on May 26, 2020.


(Evan Mitsui/CBC)

LTCs and soldiers

Following a request for help by the Quebec government, members of the Canadian Armed Forces were dispatched in April to help residents in long-term care homes (LTCs) dealing with coronavirus outbreaks. 

In Laval, Que., funeral home workers remove a body from the Centre d’hebergement Sainte-Dorothee on April 13, 2020, which at the time was the city’s hardest-hit LTC, with over 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

yearphotos2020 20201214

(Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

In Ontario, 250 soldiers were sent to five seniors’ homes.

A staff member escorts soldiers into a long-term care home, in Pickering, Ont., on April 25, 2020. 

covid ont military 20200814

(Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Easter, summer patios and haircuts

Rev. Nick Meisl of St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic parish takes confession from parishioners at a walk-in confessional in Vancouver on April 8, 2020. 

covid 19 drive thru confession

(Ben Nelms/CBC)

Physical distancing measures were in place at the first screening of the Twilite Drive-In Theatre’s 2020 season on May 15, 2020, in Wolseley, Sask.

twilite drive in theatre opening night 2020 movie screen wolsele

(Bryan Eneas/CBC)

Thousands of people packed the popular Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto on May 23, 2020, one of the first warm days of the year, violating the city’s physical distancing bylaw and relieving themselves in neighbours’ laneways and backyards. To encourage physical distancing, the city painted circles on the grass.

trinity bellwoods park crowd trinity bellwoods park circles

(Michael Charles Cole/CBC, Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

In St. John’s, the Memorial Day parade to honour the fallen was cancelled in order to adhere to physical distancing rules. But a few passersby paid their respects anyway.

memorial day 2020 st john s

(Peter Cowan/CBC)

People take advantage of Stage 2 of Ontario’s reopening by grabbing a seat at a patio at Ottawa’s Lansdowne Park on June 12, 2020.

lansdowne patios june 12 20

(Francis Ferland/CBC)

Barber Menick, who has been cutting hair for 61 years, cuts a customer’s hair in his barbershop filled with sports memorabilia in Montreal on June 15, 2020. Hairdressers, tattoo parlours and other personal-care businesses in the Montreal area reopened that day.

yearphotos2020 20201214

(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Back to school

Miriam Murphy walks her daughter, Nancy Murphy, 5, to her first day of senior kindergarten at Portage Trail Community School in Toronto on Sept. 15, 2020 — six months after the COVID-19 pandemic ended the school year prematurely.

covid 19 tdsb portage trail reopens

(Evan Mitsui/CBC)

A kindergarten class is seen with individual plexiglass shields at the Marie-Claire Academy in Montreal. 

covid que 20200831

(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Vaccines and variants amid 2nd wave

A box of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is delivered by a UPS worker to the Maimonides long-term care home in Montreal on Dec. 14, 2020.

health coronavirus canada vaccines

(Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services/Reuters)

Registered pharmacy technician Tamara Rumsey prepares the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Toronto on Dec. 15, 2020, for a group of personal support workers during a clinic run by the University Health Network.

covid vaccinations healthcare workers

(Evan Mitsui/CBC)

A Canadian North Flight lands on the tarmac in Iqaluit on Dec. 30, 2020, carrying Nunavut’s first doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

vaccine flight nunavut

(Jackie McKay/CBC)

Margaret Watson, 94, a resident at Oakview Place long-term care residence, smiles after getting her COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 11. She was the first member of the public to get the vaccine in Winnipeg.

covid mba vaccine 20210111

(John Woods/The Canadian Press)

A body is removed from Roberta Place long-term care home, in Barrie, Ont., on Jan. 18. An outbreak caused by a coronavirus variant first detected in the United Kingdom has resulted in the deaths of 40 residents and one essential caregiver at the home as of Jan. 24.

roberta place ltc barrie

(Evan Mitsui/CBC)

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