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Who is a Canadian icon? Former contestants share memories of Alex Trebek

Alex Trebek is being mourned throughout the world after his death was announced Sunday. Canadians lucky enough to appear on the show and meet him in person shared their grief and stories of the national icon.

Death of Sudbury, Ont. native announced on Sunday

Matthew Church poses with fellow Canadian (and Jeopardy host) Alex Trebek. (Jeopardy!)

Canadian-born Jeopardy!  host Alex Trebek is being mourned throughout the world after his death was announced Sunday. Canadians lucky enough to appear on the show and meet him in person shared their grief and stories of the crisp and unflappable Trebek.

Brooke MacKenzie in Toronto shared a tweet mourning the loss of a "true legend." Three-time Jeopardy winner Ali Hasan told CBC News that despite the knowledge the day would come, the loss was "still devastating."

The B.C. teacher said he started watching the show as a child living in Bahrain.

Kristyna Ng in Calgary has also watched the show since she was young, emigrating to Canada from China in the 1980s.

At the time, there was no YouTube or 300 channels to flip through to learn English. Ng remembers a nightly regimen of watching the news, Jeopardy!, and Wheel of Fortune as she became accustomed to life in Canada.

"Jeopardy and Alex Trebek had a huge influence and impact on my life since I was eight years old and that continues today," she said in an interview for CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

"It truly is the soundtrack of my life."

Ng appeared on the show earlier this year after completing an online quiz and an in-person try-out in Seattle. Even though Ng did not win, she says Trebek graciously congratulated her afterwards.

"You did really, really well and you should be proud of yourself," Ng said the host told her.

Calgary Jeopardy contestant Kristyna Ng in her home watching TV quiz show Jeopardy! (Monty Kruger/CBC)

The news of his death came as a shock to Ng, who says before the cameras rolled he took questions from the audience and gave frank answers about his health.

"He was just still making jokes while battling cancer," she said.

"He was just so human, he was so genuine."

Why Alex Trebek's legacy extended beyond Jeopardy, for one Albertan. 4:02

"This is someone who's been part of your — at least my — evening routine on and off for probably about 25 years," Matthew Church said in an interview with CBC Radio's Radio Active.

"Watching the show without him, it's going to take some adjustment."

A student when he appeared on the show in 2013, Church said the $31,000 US he won from competing helped him pay for tuition while studying medicine at Queen's University in Ontario. Originally hailing from Prince George, B.C., he is now a cardiology resident at the University of Alberta Hospital.

Medical resident Matthew Church got his big to compete on Jeopardy in 2013. He reflect on meeting Alex Trebek on the show. 10:21

Church said Trebek liked to poke fun at him when his Canadian origin came into play — such as with French words.

"I think he has a bit of a special affinity for Canadians."

With files from Chris Iorfida

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