Top 20 in 2023. Our biggest, best-read Canadian longreads of the year

From true crime to health care, climate change and culture wars, these were the stories Canadians cared about

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It’s not news that newsrooms across the country are shrinking due to industry-wide cutbacks and layoffs, including at Postmedia. So, it warms the heart that our journalists and still-thriving newsrooms remain so deeply committed to their craft.

Nowhere is this more evident than in our published longreads. Ambitious, in-depth, high-quality storytelling demands a commitment on the part of the journalist to stick with the story through twists and turns, roadblocks and setbacks, for days, weeks, even months. Longreads also call for a commitment from the entire newsroom. Their bylines don’t appear on the stories, but editors, designers, illustrators, photographers, videographers and digital editors all play a huge role in the storytelling.

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Our Postmedia newsrooms across the country published dozens of longreads this year and collectively, they form an impressive body of work that gives us hope for the future of journalism. From true crime to health care, climate change and culture wars, they tell the stories Canadians care about. We’ve highlighted some of our biggest, best-read stories of 2023 below for your holiday reading.

Top 10 of 2023

Gold bars in a pile
The 1952 Toronto airport heist was declared Canada’s biggest gold theft at the time.

I solved the great Toronto airport gold heist of 1952

Longtime National Post crime reporter Adrian Humphreys was investigating the multimillion-dollar gold heist at Toronto Pearson International Airport this past spring when he stumbled on an astonishing fact: An eerily similar gold heist happened at the same airport 70 years ago that remained unsolved. The 1952 airport heist was declared Canada’s biggest gold theft at the time and was so bewildering investigators had no suspects.

Adrian’s keen eye picked up something else — Howard Halpenny, a young baggage handler at what was then called Malton Airport, was a known associate of Adrian’s mobster sources. Adrian tracked down family members of the now-deceased Halpenny, who admitted his involvement: “My dad got the gold.” The story of how Adrian solved the mystery, Halpenny’s life of crime, and why the family never saw the proceeds of the heist is, well, pure gold.

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CEO seeks strangers who rescued him
William Corredor, 62, of Miami, was rescued along Highway 401 in January 1982 and is looking to contact the farmers who saved his life. (Photo supplied)

CEO seeks strangers who spared him a cold, lonely death along Highway 401

Alone and shivering in the dark, his car failing, Colombian student William Corredor feared he’d freeze to death. Spying a farmhouse off the 401, he made for its light – and found rescue, a new outlook on life and an unforgettable story. Four decades later, the Miami software CEO tells his story to Randy Richmond at the London Free Press, because he wants to find and thank the strangers who saved him.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, arrive to sign a book of condolence at Lancaster House in London, England, on Sept. 17, 2022, following the death of Queen Elizabeth.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, arrive to sign a book of condolence at Lancaster House in London, England, on Sept. 17, 2022, following the death of Queen Elizabeth. The couple announced their separation in August after 18 years of marriage. Photo by DAVID PARRY / AFP via Getty Images

Justin and Sophie split: How their high-profile marriage started and ended

Justin Trudeau met Sophie Grégoire in 2003 toward the end of what he would later describe as an “overly social” time in his life. They hit it off and gave every indication of a strong partnership, writes National Post’s Joseph Brean, who takes stock of the political couple’s public marriage and extremely public breakup this summer.

Ponzi scheme Greg Martel
Greg Martel in June 2022. Photo by Facebook /jpeg

He’s accused of running a $300M Ponzi scheme and now he’s vanished. Who — and where — is Greg Martel?

Investors claim a B.C. mortgage broker was running a Ponzi scheme and owes them $312 million. Vancouver Sun’s Gordon Hoekstra traces the remarkable rise and fall of Greg Martel, who once owned a string of luxury properties and cars in California, but is now bankrupt and was last seen in Thailand.

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Police and Ontario Freemen
Dozens of OPP vehicles are parked at the Port Burwell fire hall on Sept. 28, 2023, for what police at the scene called “a contentious eviction.” (Heather Rivers/The London Free Press)

An anti-government tobacco farming family’s last stand

Dozens of OPP cruisers, an armoured police vehicle, ambulances and two locksmiths descended on the Manary family tobacco farm an hour southeast of London, Ont., on the morning of Sept. 28. The show of force was for an eviction, not a public safety threat, reports Heather Rivers and Dale Carruthers of the London Free Press. Their investigation found family members had been in trouble with the law before, but it was an affiliation with the Freeman on the Land – a Sovereign Citizen-inspired movement – that drew the enormous police presence.

Climate change moon

The case for doing (almost) nothing about climate change

There is no question human activity is accelerating climate change, but to solve it, governments need to get out of the way. National Post’s Jesse Kline argues we shouldn’t have to upend our lives and stop emitting carbon altogether. It’s a position sure to ruffle a few feathers, but he makes the case that the climate debate has been hijacked by extremists on both sides.

Crisis at middle school
Teachers at Tomken Road Middle School (above) in Mississauga, Ont., complained of student violence and discipline issues. Photo by Peter J. Thompson / National Post

‘We’re all traumatized’: The inside story of a middle school in crisis

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When a Toronto-area teacher of kids in grades six to eight released an anonymous public plea for help with chronic student misbehaviour, the school administrators instead began investigating who wrote it. National Post’s Joseph Brean reveals the lurid details of what teachers are dealing with in the Mississauga school, and the investigation by the Peel District School Board into what they viewed as a privacy violation.

Drug user outside safe injection site in Leslieville Toronto
A drug user outside the South Riverdale Community Health Centre in Leslieville, Toronto.

The needles and the damage done: Inside a neighbourhood’s battle over unsafe injection, crime and murder

In 2017, a safe injection site opened across the street from where writer Derek Finkle lives with his family in Toronto. The community initially welcomed the idea, he writes in the National Post. But within a few years, the South Riverdale Community Health Centre was transformed to an outdoor drug emporium where open drug use and dealing became rampant, a daily reality the neighbourhood came to regret approving. The centre made the headlines this summer when three suspected drug dealers exchanged gunfire outside the clinic, killing an innocent passerby, a mother named Karolina Huebner-Makurat.

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New Conservatives
Top row, from left, Anaida Poilievre, Shuvaloy “Shuv” Majumdar, Arpan Khanna and Melissa Lantsman; middle row, from left, Adam Chambers, Jamil Jivani, Sean Speer and Ben Woodfinden; bottom row, from left, Steve Outhouse, Anthony Koch, Carl Vallée and Paul Taillon. PHOTO BY POSTMEDIA FILES

The new conservatives: 12 to watch on Canada’s rapidly rising right

Pierre Poilievre has been shaping the Conservative Party of Canada as his own since he took the helm last year. He’s brought in close friends and collaborators from the Stephen Harper years, as well as fresh talent destined to become rising stars. But there are others inside and outside the party who are rising to the forefront of Canada’s rapidly evolving right. National Post Parliamentary reporter Catherine Lévesque talked to Ottawa insiders to find out who are the influencers to watch in the conservative movement right now.

MRI image of cancer spinal surgery.
Zena holds a MRI image of her neck post surgery with the scar on her back at her Toronto home, Tuesday December 11, 2023. Olijnyk had a cancerous tumour removed but was beset by delays. Photo by Peter J. Thompson/National Post

Am I going to die? We fled to the U.S. after long waits, misdiagnosis in Canada

Former National Post reporter Tom Blackwell spent more than 10 years covering health care, often reporting on medicine’s failings. Now he writes about his own family’s ordeal — the months of waiting for a MRI and misdiagnosis of a life-threatening cancerous tumour on his wife’s spine. At their own expense, Tom and his wife Zena (shown) fled to the U.S. to be properly diagnosed. His story is a dramatic and authoritative account of what can and often does go wrong in Canada’s health-care system.

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10 more top longreads of 2023

Property poor in cottage country: Why legacy landowners can’t keep their land

Harm reduction gone rogue: I worked at a safe injection site and it was disturbing

Mob wars: Montreal gripped by reckless and dangerous violence

The Excluded: Joe has been in school only four full days this year. But he’s not suspended. And he’s not alone

How the Edmonton police captured Michael White for the murder of his wife

Arms broker. Spy. Warlord lobbyist. The man who twists the world turns on Ottawa

Hospital secrets: One in 17 Canadian patients harmed by mistakes

A blanket and a shot of vodka: One woman’s account of her nightmare at the hands of an Ottawa psychologist

Heather gets the last word: The queen of reading and her Indigo comeback

The Summer Canada Burned — The wildfire season that shocked the world

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