Canada’s Smartest Person has a significant North Okanagan connection.
Braden Lauer, 22, a law student at UBC in Vancouver, was crowned the first Canada’s Smartest Person on the hit CBC-TV show’s season finale Sunday.
Lauer’s parents, Ed and Diane, and younger brother, Bryce, live in Coldstream.
“We are incredibly proud, absolutely,” said Diane. “His older sister and brother in St. Albert (Alberta) are behind him 110 per cent, saying ‘way to go, bro,’ and they along with Bryce have been telling everybody.”
The third of four Lauer children, Braden beat out seven other finalists for the title, which comes solely with bragging rights and three hours of exposure on CBC-TV.
Canada’s Smartest Person ran for eight weeks with four hopefuls battling it out each week in front of a live audience in six categories of ‘smarts’: musical, physical, social, logical, visual and linguistic.
Lauer was on the eighth and final regular season one-hour show, competing against Canadian Olympic swimmer Brent Hayden and two others. He fell behind in the show, rallied to get into a tiebreaker, then earned his spot in the two-hour finale by blowing away the field in the show’s Gauntlet competition.
In the finale, he faced off against an orthopedic surgeon, MBA candidate, editor/journalist, firefigher, fighter pilot, copywriter and a fellow British Columbian, a North Vancouver poet.
An online poll gave Lauer a 14.46 per cent chance of winning the title, third highest among the contestants.
The show was taped in Toronto over the summer and Lauer was sworn to a code of silence. He did, however, let it slip to mom and dad a few days before Sunday that the show might have a happy ending.
“Oh my God, it was the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do,” laughed Diane. “We didn’t tell the kids, we didn’t tell my parents, we didn’t tell anybody. But it was still crazy exciting to watch the final show, even though we knew what happened. Braden didn’t tell us about any of the challenges (in the finale).”
A self-described ‘Einstein meets Sherlock,’ Lauer was born in Cranbrook, moved to Kamloops as his dad – a Kal Tire employee – was transferred, then moved with the family to St. Albert, Alta., where he graduated from high school. He spent some time at the University of Alberta and lived with the family in Coldstream, when Ed was transferred to the North Okanagan, for one year and attended classes at UBC Okanagan.
Diane said her son always stated he wanted to be a lawyer or a judge from the time he was little.
“Braden can read something and just know it and it’s with him forever,” she said. “He was the kind of kid who had four books going at one time, played lacrosse up to midget, indoor soccer and rugby, and carried a 4.00 grade point average of the U. of A.
“He thrives on being busy with everything and thrives under pressure. Canada’s Smartest Person was the perfect show for him.”
Lauer was one of 32 contestants chosen from 6,000 applicants.
He received five different scholarships and has never paid a cent for his education, according to his show bio. Lauer is the director of finance for the UBC Law Student’s Society and volunteers at Pro Bono Students Canada, an organization that provides free legal advice for those who can’t afford a lawyer.
Lauer is also an avid tarot card reader.