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Canadian Geographic Challenge

Third place is a charm

Jonathan Whyte admits he has no idea when he first became interested in geography. “There wasn’t a particular moment,” says the grade 9 student from Toronto. “It just happened.” His passion for places took him to San Diego, California, in August as captain of Team Canada in the National Geographic World Championship held at SeaWorld and moderated by “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek.

Whyte joined team members Marky Freeman of Thornhill, Ont., and Maxim Ralchenko of Ottawa to finish third out of 17 teams in the international competition. Teams from Mexico and the United States took home gold and silver medals, respectively.

From completing multiple-choice questions on day one to participating in an orienteering exercise on day two, the test was tough but fun. “Day three was relaxing. We were supposed to be practising, but we hung out in large groups,” says Whyte, adding that he made friends from around the world.

— Antonia McGuire

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Did you know that a 2005 National Survey determined that one-third of adult Canadians can be considered “geographically illiterate”?

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“Geography is the lens for the soul of the earth. With the knowledge of geography, one can examine the earth’s past, assess the present and predict future situations. You can literally be ‘lost’ without geography!”

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