When it comes to winter in Canada, Canadians are divided into two groups. Some prefer to head south for the warmth and avoid the cold winters here, while others enjoy the Canadian winters. Skiing, outdoor rinks, ice fishing, and snowboarding are just a few of the popular outdoor activities in Canada.
We can add surfing to winter actives in Canada. Surfing is popular in Canada on both the east and west coasts, as well as on the Great Lakes and in rivers with standing waves and tidal bores.
The Pacific Ocean on Canada’s west coast has the most active surf scene in the country. Tofino, British Columbia is Canada’s unofficial surf capital. The west coast of Canada has surf able waves all year, and CNN named Tofino one of the world’s Top 50 surf destinations. In 2010, Outdoor Magazine named Tofino the “best surf town” in North America. Ocean water temperatures in Tofino are consistent year-round, averaging 8-12 degrees (C), and advancements in wetsuit technology are credited with making year-round surfing comfortable and safe. Tofino has the most temperate climate in Canada and is surrounded by old growth rainforest. On Canada’s east coast, the Atlantic Ocean has a burgeoning surfing scene. Because of its proximity to Clayoquot Sound, a UNESCO-protected biosphere reserve, Tofino has remained relatively undeveloped.
The North American record for surfing a single river wave was set on the Petitcodiac River’s tidal bore in New Brunswick on July 24, 2013. The Habitat 67 standing wave can be found in Montreal’s Lachine Rapids on the St. Lawrence River. The Ottawa River also has a thriving river surfing community. River surfing is also becoming more popular in traditionally inland prairie areas such as Alberta and Manitoba.
Ontario’s Great Lakes have a thriving surf scene. Lake Huron, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, and Lake Superior all have surf communities. The Wyldewood Surf Club, which focuses on lake surfing, was founded in Port Colborne in 1965.
Are you a lady looking to catch a wave in Toronto during the dead of winter?
It may be too intense for some, but there is a dedicated group of women surfing the Great Lakes and demonstrating their prowess in Ontario’s cold waters. Robin Pacquing and Lisa Parkes co-founded Lake Surfistas, a grassroots Canadian movement that brings women of all abilities together to surf and stand up paddleboarding.
So grab your surfboard, put on the appropriate winter surf gear, and “Hang 10” (hang so far up the board that all of your toes are hanging off) if cold water surfing is your “bag.”