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People & Culture

Six awesome things that happened when Alex Trebek came to Ottawa

  • May 03, 2016
  • 684 words
  • 3 minutes
Alex Trebek with students from Robert Bondar Public School in Ottawa, Ont. (Photo: RBPS staff) Expand Image

On May 3rd, the Royal Canadian Geographical Society named Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek Honorary President of the Society. Trebek, who hails originally from Sudbury, Ontario, has long been a champion of geographic literacy in the United States and in his native Canada. He has received both the RCGS’ Gold Medal and its Lawrence J. Burpee Medal for his contributions to geographic education, including his support of the annual Canadian Geographic Challenge.

Given that background, it only made sense that Trebek’s new title be announced at a school. The event was both a celebration of Trebek’s legacy and Canada’s geography, and an experience the participating students from Ottawa’s Roberta Bondar Public School will surely never forget. Here are six awesome things that happened:

250 junior high school students willingly cheered … for geography

The video below captures introductory remarks from Ellen Curtis, Director of Canadian Geographic Education, and Dr. Paul Ruest, President of the RCGS, both of whom assured the students it was cool to get pumped about geography.

Students participated in a mini geography challenge and put Can Geo’s staff to shame

Prior to the event, Grade 7 and 8 classes at Roberta Bondar had each selected a few students to take part in a geography challenge on the RCGS’ Parks Canada giant floor map. Curtis led the teams in questions about Canadian places and spaces that stumped Canadian Geographic‘s editors — but not the participants!

Trebek led the last round of the geography challenge and it was almost as intense as Final Jeopardy

When all but two teams had been eliminated, the quizmaster himself took over to crown the geography champions of south Ottawa.

Trebek got real about what it’s like hosting one of television’s longest-running quiz shows

After the geography challenge, Trebek took questions from the students. Many were curious about his experiences hosting Jeopardy!, which just wrapped its 32nd season. One student asked Trebek how he prepares for each show:

Another asked Trebek his favourite part of hosting Jeopardy!:

He also told a story about walking onto the Jeopardy! set without pants

One student wanted to know the strangest thing that ever happened to Trebek while taping Jeopardy! Trebek told a story about the time he overheard some of the game show’s championship finalists planning to prank him by coming out on set without pants on. Imagine their surprise when their host emerged from behind the scenes, sans trousers!

Trebek dispensed some amazing life advice

All joking aside, Trebek told the students he considers himself lucky to have landed in a career that he enjoys and excels at, and encouraged them to seek the same for themselves:


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