Quizbowl in Canada

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Variants of quizbowl in Canada have been around since the 1960s. Quizbowl understood as a tossup/bonus format entered Canada in the late 1990s, where it has since consolidated into a university circuit centered around Southern Ontario. Though high school quiz competitions almost exclusively use Reach for the Top, collegiate quizbowl in Canada has grown from a mildly peripheral community to one of the most active and consolidated circuits anywhere.

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. Though Ottawa and Toronto-based secondary institutions like Lisgar, UTS, and Woburn have both hosted and attended tossup/bonus quizbowl tournaments—including HSNCT and PACE NSC—growth at the high school level for years remained uneven. During the COVID-19 pandemic, high school quizbowl has almost entirely ceased to operate in Canada.


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.


University clubs exclusively play tossup/bonus quizbowl, as Reach for the Top does not exist at the post-secondary level. Reach veterans make up the majority of most Canadian quizbowl clubs, with some Americans studying in Canada also playing actively.


Collegiate quizbowl appeared in Canada in the late 1990s and early 2000s in schools such as Queen's and Simon Fraser. NAQT initially provided the questions for most academic events, with some additional amount of "Canadian content."[1] In the 90s, Queen's was the sole Canadian team to participate in ACF events. Due to a relatively small amount of teams and a stronger sense of Canadian quizbowl as separate from American events, it was common practice at this time for clubs across the entire country to attend the same Regionals and SCT sites. From 2000-2010 Canadian quizbowl was at its most expansive geographically—with a presence in Vancouver and, later, Alberta. However, the absolute number of academic events remained fairly low.

By 2010, universities like Toronto, Ottawa, Waterloo, McGill and Western constituted a fairly established Ontario/Quebec circuit. This circuit continued to consolidate and grow across the decade thanks to the effort of organizers like Joe Su. At the same time, quizbowl in British Columbia and Alberta went practically extinct, leaving the Eastern circuit as the de facto "Canadian circuit." The once-common view that quizbowl in Canada is more frivolous and insular than in American circuits largely disappeared by the end of the decade.

Canadian quizbowl has remained centered around Southern Ontario, with Toronto the most common host. In the mid-to-late 2010s, Toronto and McGill were the largest and most consistently competitive clubs. The 2020s have been a period of unprecedented growth and success for the Canadian circuit: mirrors of tournaments such as ACF Winter consistently draw up to 20 or more teams; Canadian writers and editors routinely contribute to flagship events; teams from Toronto and Waterloo have set top-four finishes at national tournaments; and the return of quizbowl to the University of British Columbia has once again created a countrywide circuit, albeit online. ACF recognized Joe Su for his contributions in building the circuit by awarding him the Carper at 2023 ACF Nationals.

The highest ICT finishes by Canadian Teams are 4th in Division I by 2024 Toronto, and 1st in Division II by 2023 Waterloo, a title they successfully defended in 2024. The highest ACF Nationals finish is T-4th by 2024 Waterloo. The Waterloo team of Michael Du, Mattias Ehatamm, Liam Kusalik, and Gaian Valdegamo became the first Canadian team to win a championship by taking first at the 2023 DII ICT. Below is a table of national championship attendance:

Year Teams at ICT DI Teams at ICT DII Teams at ACF Nationals
2010 Toronto Ottawa
2011 Toronto, Western (UG), Ottawa Guelph Toronto
2012 Toronto, Guelph (UG) Toronto, Ottawa
2013 Ottawa, McMaster Toronto Alberta, Ottawa
2014 Ottawa McGill, Carleton, McMaster Alberta
2015 Ottawa, McGill, Carleton (UG), Waterloo (UG) McGill, Carleton Alberta, McGill, Ottawa, McMaster
2016 McGill, Toronto McGill McGill, McMaster, Ottawa
2017 McGill, Toronto, Carleton Toronto, Ottawa
2018 McGill, Toronto Toronto, McGill, Waterloo McGill, Toronto
2019 McGill, Toronto, Queen's Toronto McGill, Toronto
2021 British Columbia
2022 British Columbia, McGill Toronto, McGill, Western McGill, Toronto
2023 Toronto, Western Waterloo, McMaster, Toronto Toronto, McGill
2024 Toronto, Waterloo Waterloo, Toronto, British Columbia, Ottawa, McMaster McGill, Toronto, Ottawa, Waterloo

Circuit Play

Canada hosts a full complement of NAQT and ACF events each year and regularly sends multiple teams to both ICT and ACF Nationals. Additionally, it is common for Ontario clubs to host multiple housewrites per semester and a separate NAQT novice for both Greater Toronto and Ottawa/Quebec. To save travel time, tournaments are often held in pairs on Saturday and Sunday either at the same school or schools in the same area. Though Canada's most idiosyncratic tournament, VETO, died out in the mid-2010s, the Eastern circuit retains a distinctive attention to pop culture events. These are usually hosted as Sunday tournaments or as part of summer "side event weekends." The Hybrid Tournament is the only annual event now written solely by Canadians.

Hybrid Tournament

Hybrid, formerly known as the Ottawa Hybrid Tournament, is an annual half-academic, half-pop culture tournament written by Canadians. It was once organized by members of Ottawa under the editorship of Ben Smith. The quality of the tournament has generally increased over time as the Eastern circuit has gained a more experienced cadre of writers and editors. Like VETO, Hybrid is generally pack submission. Unlike VETO, the tournament is centrally edited.

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. VETO was once a common target of ridicule from American quizbowl clubs for its idiosyncratic distribution and retrograde quality. In 2009, ACF members edited VETO as a DI SCT-level academic tournament as an attempt to expand ACF-style writing practices to Canada. Backlash and counter-backlash ensued online as many Canadian quizbowlers felt the tournament had become less unique and "fun." Some credit the experiment with helping introduce younger Canadians to academic quizbowl. VETO continued into the 2010s as a guerrilla tournament, improving as the circuit grew in question-writing experience. The last VETO was held in 2017.

Provincial Bowl

Once organized by Brock Stephenson, various Provincial Bowls took place in October. 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, which was never repeated. BC Bowl ceased in the late 2000s, followed shortly by Ontario 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.

Canadian Lingo

A list of quizbowl-related terms used mostly or exclusively in Canada

  • Cansonic. More general name for the speed-based quizzing format used by Consensus Trivia and Reach for the Top. Originated among Canadian high schoolers circa 2023. Alternatively, "Canasonic."
  • jungler. A generalist, especially one with a knack for canny, "figure-it-out" style buzzes outside their areas of specialty.
  • pack. A packet. Still censored on the hsquizbowl.org forums as a reminder of a more prejudiced era.
  • Reach. Reach for the Top.
  • :relieved:, :weary:, :pensive:. Suite of Discord reactions originated by the University of Toronto in apparent contempt for Grice's maxims. Have since spread to the quizbowl community at large.


A non-exhaustive list of Canadian quizbowlers who have had substantial success at high-level tournaments:


  1. http://www.caql.org/results.html