Sudbury

One on One with Markus - Alex Trebek

Posted: November 28, 2017

Alex Trebek, originally from Sudbury, has been hosting Jeopardy! for 34 years. (jeopardy.com)

He misses the slower pace of Canada, his personal hero is Gordie Howe, he still cheers for the Montreal Canadiens and when he was young, he aspired to be Canada's prime minister, a doctor or a pilot.

But one of Alex Trebek's latest indulgences in life is Big Turk chocolate bars.

He says he recently picked some up when he was in Canada. After returning home to California, he ordered a box.

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Trebek, originally from Sudbury, Ont., was in Canada last week to become an officer of the Order of Canada. The long-standing host of Jeopardy! was honoured for instilling "a love of learning in millions of people around the world."

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The longtime Jeopardy host talks to CBC News about receiving one of Canada's highest civilian honours, going home to Sudbury, Ont., and discovering a crack in his Walk of Fame star  9:24

Growing up in Sudbury

His father originally came from the Ukraine and met his mother in Sudbury. His mother, originally a Legace, has a street named after her family in Sudbury.

Trebek says he attended the former St. Louise de Gonzague on Mackenzie Street.

"I got whacked by the nuns for throwing snowballs and bothering the girls," he said.

From there, he went to Sudbury High, now Sudbury Secondary School and then attended the University of Ottawa. He studied philosophy.

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"They had classes in the morning and I was working in the afternoons and evenings to make money for my education," he said.

At the time, he had no idea what he wanted to do with his life.

"But things worked out reasonably well in broadcasting so I have no complaints," he said.

Working at the CBC

Eventually, Trebek worked with the CBC in Ottawa before working with CBC Toronto.

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A young, sideburned Alex Trebek auditions for the CBC.  0:41

"Because I was the only bilingual announcer on staff, I got to host a lot of things the other guys who were senior to me didn't get asked to do," he said.

"I hosted the big entertainment extravaganza on Parliament Hill for our 100th birthday for the Queen and Prince Phillip."

Hosting game shows

His first experience in the world of TV game shows was when he got a chance to host CBC's Reach for the Top. His friend, Alan Thicke, recommended Trebek to American producers. Trebek hosted several programs, including Wizard of Odds and Double Dare.

"Once I got Jeopardy!, it was a natural fit according to a lot of people," he said.

Trebek says there's been a lot of memorable moments hosting the show over 34 years.

"When we did the competition with the IBM computer that was special," he said.

"When we had Ken Jennings who won 74 shows in a row … there have been a lot of moments."

Revisiting Sudbury

Looking back on where he came from, Trebek says he visited Sudbury last year to do a cameo on The Amazing Race.

"I was at Lake Ramsey where I spent a lot of my youth," he said.

"Sunday afternoons in the summer I'd be there with my best friend."

Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek has been spotted in Sudbury in recent years, including a visit to the Nickel City in 2015. (supplied)

He says he's impressed with the environmental changes he's seen in the city since he was young.

"It's a beautiful place now," he said. "It's green and they pointed out when I was there … Sudburians are the happiest people in the country."