Hopefully by now we’ve shown you that Canadian surfing isn’t such an oxymoron, and moreover, that there are kinda famous places to surf up here. And considering that surfing in Canada, like the rest of any kind of thing in Canada (including Canada) is such a “young” thing, there are more and more hidden gems and secret spots being uncovered all the time by the pros in ‘Surf’s Up Here’, novice surfers willing to take some risks, and surf aficionados who happen to stumble upon something great. It’s kind of like a grab bag if the bag was filled with waves, breaks and some pretty inspiring scenery.
For the sake of “break’ing it down” (uuugh), we’ve compiled what we consider to be the best places to surf, up here.
We’ve got two huge coasts, sure, but what about everyone who happened to be born stuck smack between them? Thanks to the plethora of mountains that fringe these places, the glacial lakes which form in them, and the gushing rivers which tumble gallantly down, there is a whole surf ecosystem ready and waiting for those sick enough of kicking up nothing but prairie dust.
The Alberta River Surfing Association (ARSA) became the second such recognized organization in the world to hold annual river surfing competitions in and around Edmonton and Calgary. They’ve also been responsible for spreading the trend to neighbouring provinces. Sturgeon Falls in Manitoba, for one, which boasts plenty of variety when it comes to wave size and speed and who’ve since started their own river surfing association (MRSA).
Of course the best-known river surf comes as somewhat of a novelty in Montreal’s never-ending-wave at Habitat 67. Right in the middle of the Lachine Rapids (maybe better known for crusty promoters, Pirates of the Lachine Canal) this has been the spot for two of Montreal’s bigger learn to surf schools, who both estimate having over 4,500 students since 2005.
The standing, rolling wave is due to fast moving water coming up on boulders at the riverbed, and if you’ve got 30 minutes to blow (and nobody else is waiting) you can surf without ever having to paddle out. Wow le.
Lawrencetown Beach, Nova Scotia
Surf communities might be a thing that comes more to mind when picturing places like Venice Beach, but mixing surfing and the seaside is what this little Nova Scotia town is all about. It might seem a little quiet at first, until you get to the beach, which is when you’ll realize most everybody is out in the water. The beach itself is tucked into a provincial park and faces south into the Atlantic in a long, arching stretch that unfurls into 1.5 kilometers. Though the beach itself could rival that of any Californian coastline, keep in mind the water here isn’t going to warm up anytime before mid-August, it;s the Atlantic, after all.
A little tip on the unpredictability of the Atlantic, a lot of the best East coast waves come in at night, or just before sunrise. If theres enough moon or if you want to pioneer a new look in miner headlamps, you can catch some of the best waves in the dark.
Ingonish Beach, Nova Scotia
A bit farther north up the coast, outside of Cape Breton, this is definitely something of a locals only spot. Breaks here might not be as consistent as at Lawrencetown, but come hurricane season (anytime during winter through spring, typically) things here can get hairy quick. Keep in mind you had better have a shitload of resolve and a thick suit, but being that this is one of the longer stretches of beach down the coast, there’s plenty of room to spread out and get some good waves in.
Bay Of Fundy, Nova Scotia
Every day something like 100 billion tonnes of seawater comes in and out of the Bay during it’s tide cycle, which is more than the combined flow of every freshwater river on Earth. But this much water isn’t going to come in the same every day, which is what keeps it interesting and with the potential for some crazy waves if you’ve got the patience to watch and see what comes in.
Tidal bores are big (between 10-15 feet) and fast “walls of water” that happen when outflowing rivers go back upstream as the ocean tide comes in and happen at any number of places in the bay or up and down the surrounding rivers. Short-lived but big on swell, keep an eye out for white-water rafters unless you’re looking to hitch a ride back to shore.
Like all inland Canadian surf weather plays a huge part in the size of waves you’re going to find here, but with a little planning and foresight (the Weather Network ap, for one) there are big and lazy 10ft swells to lay back on your board and read the funnies on. There’s a lot of jetties and docks to jump off of to save yourself some time, and if you’re some sort of insufferable braggart you’ll be able to say you’ve surfed the Great Lakes.
Wyldewood Beach, Fort Erie
Fort Erie is typically known for being a town that for a couple of weeks every summer gets taken over by scores of bikers who generally behave but often throw each other through windows of fine establishments dotting the main street here.
What you might not know is that Lake Erie, being relatively flat and long, can get some pretty big swells due to fast winds and summer storm systems. If you time it right, you might make some colourful new friends, too.
Lake Superior, Ontario
The north shore - Stoney Point, Lester River, Park Point - of the Great Lake with the biggest opinion of itself offers a fairly decent amount of surf, and the handful of surf associations that have begun popping up around the area have let the proverbial drown cat out of the bag.
Out of every month there are 10 really good surf days, with waves getting up to 15ft in swell and bigger in the throes of a really good storm.
Doy. The surfing capital of Canada and what the Planet Smashers made a song about, Tofino is continually being ranked as one of the best places to surf in North America. This ain’t no sleepy little stretch of coastline, it’s about 35km of consistently rideable surf. Winter storms coming in via Japan create some pretty dramatic weather, but this is probably one of the only places in Canada that, while you’ll still have to wear a wetsuit, your head might not be a huge, bearded chunk of ice the entire time.
Campbell River, B.C.
Were you ever loathe to realize you’ll never surf somewhere Ice Cube filmed a movie? Well chin up, you can do that here. Located on the east side of Vancouver Island waves funnel down the passage between mainland and island.
Sombrio Beach, B.C.
If you are a little extra rugged and the idea of chilling in some kelp beds appeals to you then look no further. There’s even a gigantic rock that sits right at the base of where most waves here break you’ll have to scootch away from as a persistent, spooky mist enshrouds the entire area. Do you feel like you’re in a Kate Bush video? Us too.