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On-line readers of The Globe and Mail chose a small Ontario town's tainted drinking water as the most memorable story of 2000 -- while the death of the prime minister many deemed the country's most colourful finished a close second.

Globeandmail.com readers were asked to click on the top story of 2000 from a list of six. About 30 per cent picked the tragedy in Walkerton, Ont., or about 5,800 of the more than 18,500 who had responded by last night.

The idea that something most Canadians take for granted -- the system that delivers safe drinking water -- could falter so completely seemed to resonate across the country. In May, the deadly E. coli bacteria found in the town's water killed seven people, and made at least 2,000 sick.

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Just behind Walkerton in the on-line survey was the death in September of Pierre Trudeau, a prime minister whose charisma and intellect continued to set Canada on fire long after he retired from politics.

Thousands of ordinary citizens turned out to pay their respects, lining up for hours to file past his casket at Parliament Hill or at Montreal City Hall.

Almost 30 per cent, or 5,550 readers, chose Mr. Trudeau's death as the most memorable story.

The on-line survey, which is not scientific, asked readers of the Web site to choose from the following list: the death of Pierre Trudeau, the U.S. election, the Human Genome Project, the Canadian election, the tech sector's rise and fall, and the Walkerton water crisis.

Readers found the drawn-out U.S. election much more compelling than Canada's, with about 21 per cent choosing the battle for the White House and just 2 per cent choosing Canada's snap fall vote.

The near completion of the Human Genome Project -- in which a team of international scientists finished mapping the basic building blocks of human life -- received about 9 per cent of the vote, and the tech sector's rise and fall 8 per cent.

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