OTTAWA -- The Tragically Hip and "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek were among 44 Canadians invested into the Order of Canada, the country's highest civilian honor. Today's ceremony, the last one of the award's anniversary year, is the first for the new Governor General, Julie Payette.

“Unlike my previous life, this position does not come with an instruction manual,” Payette, a former astronaut, said. “But just like my previous life, failure is not an option.”

For the four members of The Tragically Hip, one of Canada’s most iconic bands, the moment was bittersweet. Kington, Ont. natives Rob Baker, Johnny Fay, Paul Langlois and Gord Sinclair were recognized for their cultural contributions and supporting social and environmental causes. Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie, who died exactly one month ago, received his Order of Canada insignia at a previous ceremony in June.

Trebek -- the Sudbury-born game show star who has hosted more than 7600 episodes and presented more than 463,000 clues since “Jeopardy!” started in 1984 -- is known for encouraging Canadian and trivia on the hit quick program.

"I’ll tell you a secret. Our head writer is a Canadian from Montreal. That’s how we manage to sneak in the stuff," Trebek told CTV News in an interview after the ceremony at Rideau Hall.

Another honoree was Emmy-award winning comedian David Steinberg, originally from Winnipeg, who played down the honor with a small dose of self-deprecating humour. "I keep thinking of… my 6th grade English teacher," he said. "She must be rolling around in -- let’s say heaven – saying, 'You’ve got the wrong person! He was the worst in the class – not the best in the class!'"

Other recipients, less well-known but equally accomplished, include Terrance Paul, chief of Nova Scotia’s Membertou First Nation for 33 years. Chief Paul is credited for lifting his community out of debt and poverty and transforming it into a booming business centre, which has become a model of self-reliance for other First Nation communities. "[The Order of Canada] just increases the credibility and the recognition of who and what Membertou is," he said.

Today’s recipients now join an elite club of 6,897 Canadians who’ve been named to the Order of Canada since the honour was founded in 1967.

About the Order of Canada:

  • The first investiture ceremony of the Order of Canada took place on November 24, 1967
  • Recipients have been as young as 18 (swimmer Anne Ottenbrite) and as old as 105 (physician Cornelius Wiebe)
  • There are three “levels” of the honor, granted based on whether the contributions are at the local, national or international level. From lower to highest, the ranks are: Member, Officer and Companion.
  • Nominations come from Canadians across the country, but are reviewed by an independent body twice a year, which then makes recommendations to the Governor General.
  • Inscribed upon each snowflake insignia is the latin motto: DESIDERANTES MELIOREM PATRIAM, which means: “They desire a better country.”
  • Insignias are created by hand at the Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa
  • Nine people have resigned from the Order of Canada.
  • Six individuals have had their appointments terminated.

Source: Rideau Hall