Canadian Geographic - - YOUR SOCIETY - —Sara Black

Months of study­ing to be the best ge­og­ra­phy stu­dents in Canada paid off again this July as three 2017 Cana­dian Ge­o­graphic Chal­lenge fi­nal­ists em­barked on the One Ocean Ex­pe­di­tions “Fins and Fid­dles” cruise — one of their prizes for mak­ing it to the fi­nal round of the na­tional ge­og­ra­phy bee in June. Start­ing in Syd­ney, N.S., Ben Wood­ward, 16, Jake Dou­glas, 14, and Evan Finger­hut, 15, put their ge­og­ra­phy knowl­edge and skills to the test as they ex­plored Canada’s East Coast on the ad­ven­ture along with Jeop­ardy! host and RCGS Hon­orary Pres­i­dent Alex Trebek. Here are a few voy­age high­lights.

The Table­lands, Gros Morne Na­tional Park, N.L. As you sail into Bonne Bay in the heart of Gros Morne Na­tional Park, the land­scape changes from bo­real for­est to bar­ren flat-top moun­tains. These Table­lands are among the few places on the planet where you can see ex­posed man­tle, forced up from the depths of the Earth dur­ing tec­tonic col­li­sions. “It’s ex­tremely hard to truly un­der­stand ge­og­ra­phy with­out get­ting out­doors and ex­plor­ing the world like this,” said Wood­ward, Chal­lenge cham­pion.

François, N.L. Pro­nounced Fran-sway, this tiny out­port on the is­land’s south­ern tip is a hid­den gem. Lo­cated in a fiord, it’s only ac­ces­si­ble by wa­ter or he­li­copter. Hik­ing the sur­round­ing 180me­tre cliffs is a day­time thrill, but in the evening there’s no bet­ter way to get to know the com­mu­nity than with an old-fash­ioned kitchen party. What sur­prised the fi­nal­ists most, how­ever, was François’s school sys­tem. Thir­teen stu­dents at­tend the el­e­men­tary school, and high school­ers take their lessons on­line.

The Mag­dalen Is­lands, Que. Per­haps the most dis­tinct fea­ture of this small ar­chi­pel­ago is its fiery red cliffs, the re­sult of an iron ox­ide film on the sed­i­men­tary sand­stone. The wind and waves work against this frag­ile rock, cre­at­ing unique fea­tures and caves.

Sable Is­land, N.S. Once thought to be a myth­i­cal place, this iso­lated and re­mote na­tional park re­serve is home to wild horses, thou­sands of grey seals and more than 300 ship­wrecks. “The is­land has an aquifer, which is sur­pris­ing be­cause it’s a sand­bar,” said Finger­hut. “It’s amaz­ing how the plants and an­i­mals sur­vive out here.”

Host­ing a quiz night with Alex Trebek! One of the most mem­o­rable nights of the ex­pe­di­tion was tak­ing part in a quiz night with the quiz­mas­ter him­self — Alex Trebek. With his help, it was at last Wood­ward, Dou­glas and Finger­hut’s turn to ask the ques­tions, test­ing the other pas­sen­gers on their ge­og­ra­phy skills. “Be­ing with Alex Trebek and the great staff mem­bers aboard the ship, many of whom have ex­per­tise in bi­ol­ogy, pho­tog­ra­phy and other fields, made this the trip of a life­time,” said Dou­glas.

Clock­wise from left: The fi­nal­ists visit­ing Bonne Bay, N.L., with Alex Trebek; cruis­ing by cliffs in the Mag­dalen Is­lands, Que.; view­ing the wild horses of Sable Is­land.

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