CAN GEO CHALLENGE FINALISTS EXPLORE THE EAST COAST
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.