How Tofino Became Canada’s Surf City | “If you throw booze + mass unsupervised camping together, especially pre-smart phone, shit happens.”
How is it that one tiny town of 2000 residents became the surf capital of the country with the largest coastline of any in the world? And in only a couple decades! It took a bunch of like-minded people, a godfather named Dom Domic, many females, and the support of an entire community. Not something too common in surfing.
In only a few decades Tofino re-invented itself around surfing. Within a population of only 2,000, an astounding 15% or so put on necessary 5mm wetsuits and take to the waters. Put into perspective, if Huntington Beach, aka Surf City, had a similar breakdown every dawn patrol would look like a US Open crowd. Even with its brief history, if Canada is ever represented at the Olympics or on Tour, the town will have played a part. So how did a tiny Vancouver Island town at the end of the road become Canada’s de facto surf city?
Surfers began arriving in the 1960s, but after a 1970s lull, it wasn’t until the mid-80s that the modern era began. Enter Dom Domic, early renegade contest organizer and current President of Surf Canada who recounts his pre-Internet memories from 1986.
“I heard whisperings of surf on Vancouver Island,” Domic recalls. So after studying a map he found it. “For me it was a new discovery. The first thing we saw was a tiny cottage, the now iconic shop Live To Surf. They told us to go surf Long Beach. This was an August long weekend with pumping waves and there was one guy out.”