Quizbowl in Canada

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Variants of quizbowl in Canada have been around since the 1960s. Quizbowl, referring to a tossup/bonus format, is more widespread amongst universities, which began in the turn of the millennium, than high schools, which use Reach for the Top, except since 2005 in areas like Ottawa and Toronto where schools like Lisgar, UTS, and Woburn are increasingly attending quizbowl events at all levels. In the early 2010s, Alberta, led by Woburn alumnus Sinan Ulusoy began a yearly high school tournament.

High School

High school quizbowl supposedly first appeared with the CBC radio show I.Q. in the early 1960s. The format was loosely based on the American radio version of College Bowl. The show was canceled in 1964 and Reach took root soon after.


A quizbowl tournament catered to high school students came in 2005 as an NAQT event hosted by Ottawa. It has continued each year since, but with low attendance, only peaking at 14 in 2010. Attempts in the mid 00s to run similar events in Vancouver, Toronto, New Brunswick, and Sudbury have all failed due to low interest. The Ottawa Quizbowl Tournament has become an annual event. Later in the decade, Toronto and Kingston also have had universities run high school events, but with lower success.

Lisgar in Ottawa has hosted two to three a year from 2009 to the present. Other sites who have hosted have included Bell in Ottawa and Ridley College in St. Catherines.

From 2010 onward excluding provincials, there are around 4-5 tournaments of varying difficulty (NAQT, housewrites recognized by PACE) each year in Ottawa, and a novice tournament in Southern Ontario.


A provincial-level tournament is held in Ontario annually.


Year Teams at HSNCT Teams at PACE
2006 Lisgar
2007 Lisgar
2009 Lisgar
2010 Lisgar A, B
2011 Lisgar Lisgar A, B
2012 Woburn
2013 Harry Ainlay Lisgar
2014 Lisgar
2015 Lisgar A, B, Colonel By Waterloo CI
2016 White Oaks
2017 Lisgar A, B

Since Reach for the Top nationals is usually the same weekend as an American National, it is a financial and time burden on the team to attend an American National. Canadian teams that have cancelled an HSNCT registration due to a direct conflict with HSNCT have included Lisgar from Ottawa in 2008 and Assumption Catholic High School from Burlington, Ontario in 2010. Webber from Calgary cancelled their HSNCT registration in 2014, although it was not held on the same weekend as Reach Nationals.


Some high school teams or individual high school players on open teams have played in events catered to universities, such as VETO, Ottawa Hybrid Tournament, as well as mirrors of ACF tournaments or independent housewrite events.


While some Canadian universities have "trivia clubs" that only play Trivial Pursuit or watch Jeopardy!, most clubs play quizbowl. Notably, there is no Reach for the Top available in post-secondary education (unless you are a college in Quebec exploiting rule #1 of SchoolReach).


Based on its history, Queen's was the sole Canadian team to participate in ACF events through most of the 1990s. Though the 2000s, there has usually been at least one ACF event every year in British Columbia. In eastern Canada, ACF Fall was hosted by Brock in 2005 and by McMaster in 2008.

As of 2013, both Fall and Regionals are run in an Ontario site, attracting between 6 and 12 teams.


Of the major U.S.-based formats, NAQT has been the most successful in Canada. The earliest results on CAQL's website list tournament questions sources as "NAQT + Canadian content" [1]. SCTs have been held in Canada every year since 2000 (except 2002).

NAQT has been previously accused of making concessions to Canadians (such as adding high levels of Canadian content in questions or giving 2 ICT invites to the Vancouver SCT) to boost their Canadian market.

Annually, the Canadian contingent to ICT consists of multiple players who had successful Reach for the Top careers.

The highest ICT finishes by Canadian Teams are 5th in Division I by 2010 Toronto, and 2nd in Division II by 2008 Western.

Year Teams at ICT DI Teams at ICT DII
2010 Toronto Ottawa
2011 Toronto, Western (UG), Ottawa Guelph
2012 Toronto, Guelph (UG) Toronto, Ottawa
2013 Ottawa, McMaster Toronto
2014 Ottawa McGill, Carleton, McMaster
2015 Ottawa, McGill, Carleton (UG), Waterloo (UG) McGill, Carleton
2016 McGill, Toronto McGill

Mirrors of Housewrites

Ontario hosts mirrors of independently produced sets fairly regularly, with 2-3 a semester. These span the full difficulty spectrum from easy events such as Delta Burke, ACF Novice, or MUT to hard events such as Minnesota or VCU Open. These tournaments attract anywhere between 4 and 12 teams. Usually to save teams having to travel, tournaments are held in pairs on Saturday and Sunday either at the same school or schools in the same area.

Hybrid Tournament (March)

The Ottawa Hybrid Tournament is organized by members of Ottawa with help from the community. It began in 2005 by Ben Smith as a quick cash grab for funds to travel to an ICT, but has steadily gone down in price and up in quality. It is sometimes mirrored by sites across Canada and the USA. Its 16-team field at the Ottawa site in 2007 was the largest at a Canadian independent event until Ontario Bowl also had 16 the following season. Like with VETO, the quality of the Ottawa Hybrid Tournament has gone up as more and more players are exposed to good questions elsewhere. Unlike VETO, there is usually a group of people who help edit the tournament.

Former Events

VETO (Open Summer Tournament)


Organized by Peter McCorquodale, the Vancouver Estival Trivia Open (or VETO Escapes to Toronto, Ontario) was held annually in Vancouver (and often at a Toronto mirror) from 1999 until 2017. In 2002, it converted to a "guerrilla" format in which there is no central editing. In recent years, VETO has been ridiculed by American teams for either a) teams who don't ask for advice and write bad questions, or b) teams who do ask for advice, then ignore it. VETO was head edited by ACF members in 2009 and turned into a fall+/regionals- level tournament. This led to widespread backlash to the question writers for the length of questions and subject distribution, but also pushed a lot of the younger generation to support good quizbowl. VETO continues into the 2010s as a low-key guerrilla tournament that is improving in Ontario as question writing skills improve due to ACF and other tournaments requiring writing.

Provincial Bowl (October)

Organized by Brock Stephenson. It began in 2002 as BC Bowl, and since 2003 has included a more popular mirror, Ontario Bowl. In 2005, McGill hosted a third mirror, Quebec Bowl. The BC Bowl site has waned in significance in recent years, especially after Stephenson moved to Ontario for a work placement. Ontario Bowl, meanwhile, has grown in attendance each year. Ontario Bowl is often held at a first-time host site (McMaster, Ottawa, Brock/McGill, Carleton, Toronto).


During the lifespan of TRASH, there would usually be a site in either BC or southwestern Ontario (or both) with moderate attendance. There has not been much in the way of independent trash, although the OHT is half pop culture and there has often been a trash singles event after Provincial Bowl.

College Bowl

Queen's and Simon Fraser were regular participants in earlier years of College Bowl. According to the CBI website, there have been teams from the Universities of Saskatchewan and Toronto (before the modern team).

University teams

A list of Canadian universities that have sent teams to tournaments at some point. + refers to active teams.


Canadians who have seen success in the mainstream American Circuit


  • The existence of a board of writers to modify each high school set to be played in Canada to replace about half the American content and simplify the rest of the American content. This may also apply to introductory collegiate tournaments but not any collegiate NAQT or ACF tournaments.