Alex Trebek was a life long supporter of geography education and making Canada better known to the world, showed through his work with The Royal Canadian Geographic Society. We here at Canadian Geographic have been talking about Trebek's work with the Society for many years. We've put together a selection of articles from our archives to showcase his involvement over the years.
In advance of being awarded his Gold Medal from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society back in 2010, Canadian Geographic sat down with Alex Trebek to find out why he found geography so interesting.
Alex Trebek was among those recognized for their contributions to geography at The Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s College of Fellows Annual Dinner on Nov.18, 2015. That year, he was awarded the Lawreence J. Burpee Medal, given to recognize an outstanding achievement that enhances the Society’s ability to make Canada better known.
After going almost three and a half decades without naming an Honorary President, you might say The Royal Canadian Geographical Society was waiting for “the right one” to come along. In 2016, the RCGS announced that Alex Trebek had been appointed to its top honorary position (joining the likes of explorer and geologist Joseph Tyrrell and former Governor General Vincent Massey).
RCGS Honorary President Alex Trebek and RCGS CEO John Geiger gathered together to announce the Society's new home at 50 Sussex Drive in Ottawa, Ontario. The space also serves as Canada's Centre for Geography and Exploration.
“Canada’s Centre for Geography and Exploration will create a dynamic new platform to engage Canadians in celebrating their incredible physical and human geography,” said Trebek, at the 2016 announcement.
Alex Trebek was named an Officer of the Order of Canada on June 30, 2017 by Governor General David Johnston for his “iconic achievements in television and for his promotion of learning, notably as a champion for geographic literacy.” He was one of 19 appointees to the Officer level, which recognizes national service or achievement.
Alex Trebek was a lifelong champion of geographical education, having received the RCGS’s Gold Medal (in 2010) and its Lawrence J. Burpee Medal (in 2015) for his contributions to the advancement of geography. in 2019, it was announced that his legacy will be honoured once more, with the renaming of the RCGS’s Geographic Literacy Award to the Alex Trebek Medal for Geographic Literacy.
Five awesome things that happened at the official opening of Canada’s Centre for Geography and Exploration
It was perhaps the biggest night in the 90-year history of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society. On May 13, surrounded by panoramic views of one of Canada’s great rivers, dozens of explorers, educators, diplomats and philanthropists watched as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, RCGS CEO John Geiger, Jeopardy! host and Honorary President Alex Trebek, and author and Honorary Vice-President Wade Davis unveiled a plaque officially declaring Canada’s Centre for Geography and Exploration at 50 Sussex Drive the Society’s permanent home in the nation’s capital.
Fellows, explorers and past Challenge champions gathered at 50 Sussex to honour Alex Trebek and launch the 2019 edition of the challenge. John Geiger, CEO of the RCGS, presented Trebek with both a medal commemorating the Society's 90th anniversary and the first-ever Alex Trebek Medal for Geographic Literacy (formerly the RCGS Geographic Literacy Award). As well as hosting many of the Challenge’s competitions over the years, Trebek has donated to the Society to ensure the competition could host a live national final.
“Competitions…are always more exciting when there are people clapping and cheering,” he noted.
Building upon decades of collaboration, the first phase of the strengthened alliance between the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and the National Geographic Society established the Trebek Council in summer 2020, a group that will oversee distributing grants that will support the innovative and ambitious work of Canadian scientists, explorers, storytellers and educators who are revealing, examining and celebrating the natural world. This new initiative will expand the influence of both organizations in Canadian exploration and education, and is named for Alex Trebek, who, in addition to serving as Honorary President of the RCGS, was also a champion of geographic literacy, having provided significant philanthropic support to both societies to help fund educational programs.