• Alex Trebek and Canadian Geographic Challenge winner Anzo Nguyen. (Photo: Chrystia Chudczak/Canadian Geographic)

A grade 10 student from Calgary, Alberta has been crowned Canada’s newest geography champion. Anzo Nguyen was the winning contestant in the Canadian Geographic Challenge – a nationwide geography competition that saw students across the country testing their knowledge of Canada and the world. The 20 nation-wide finalists gathered in Ottawa over the weekend for the National Championship, attended by trivia legend and Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek.

“It’s very important to be curious about life and to want to learn,” Trebek said after awarding Nguyen with his $5,000 cheque. “It’s my honour to be at occasions like this and it touches me greatly.”

Trebek also presented 2nd place contestant Aaron Abraham (likewise from Calgary) with a $3000 cheque and a $2,000 cheque to 3rd place winner Malhaar Moharir of Toronto.

Nguyen gained an early lead in the finals competition, which was held in a Museum of Nature reception hall that was packed but–as per the competition rules–silent. The audience watched as the final five contestants answered questions that touched 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 his final question (what is the longest river in Europe) with a joke. Instead of writing the correct answer (Volga River) on his answer card, the Henry Wise Wood High School student wrote: “Hey Canada, I won!”

“I have a passion for geography because I am fascinated with different places and the cultures, customs, cuisines, etc. I also love to see the wonderful natural landscapes of Canada and around the world,”

Nguyen wrote in his candidate profile. [Read the profiles for all 20 finalists here]

Nguyen says he wants to be an astronaut when he grows up.

“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, in his welcoming remarks. “Geography can be your guide, your compass, your inspiration.”