• Photo: Chrystia Chudczak/Canadian Geographic

Canada’s 2015 geography champion was crowned on May 4. Anzo Nguyen, a Grade 10 student from Calgary, won the Canadian Geographic Challenge, a nationwide competition that saw students test their geographic knowledge of Canada and the world. Twenty finalists gathered in Ottawa for the National Championship, which was attended by Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek.

The reception hall at the Canadian Museum of Nature was packed for the finals, but the audience watched silently as the five remaining contestants answered questions on everything from community demographics to remote sensing to roadside attractions.

As the eighth and final round came to a close, Nguyen decided to answer the last question (“What is the longest river in Europe?”) with a joke. Instead of writing down the correct answer, “Volga River,” the Henry Wise Wood High School student jotted down, “Hey Canada, I won!” Second-place winner Aaron Abraham also hailed from Calgary, while Malhaar Moharir of Toronto took third place.

“It’s very important to be curious about life and to want to learn,” Trebek said after presenting Nguyen with the $5,000 cheque for first place. “It’s my honour to be at occasions like this, and it touches me greatly.” After the event, Trebek was awarded the RCGS’s Lawrence J. Burpee Medal in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the Society’s mission of making Canada better known and to the general advancement of geography.

“The Canadian Geographic Challenge is now in its 20th year and has helped countless students get a window on the world through geography,” said John Geiger, CEO of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society. “Geography can be your guide, your compass, your inspiration.”