Peter Devries has watched Tofino, Canada, transform itself over the course of his two-decade surfing career. Whether he realizes his impact on that transformation is tough to say. He remains incredibly humble, despite becoming a national hero at home two years ago.
Tofino is a tiny isolated spec on the western edge of Vancouver Island. It was home to a thriving logging and fishing community when Peter was learning to surf in the early 1990s. Today, however, those industries play a much smaller role. Tofino is now a beacon for ecotourism, and thanks to guys like Devries, surfing is center stage.
Devries grew up in the shadow of Raph and Sepp Bruhwiler, brothers who brought contemporary surfing to this remote and rugged zone that was stuck in neutral, if not reverse, before they took over. They grew up addicted to Taylor Steele surf movies, and were inspired to make their own. In 2002 local videographer Jeremy Koreski released “Numb,” a film about Tofino’s motley little crew.
The film sent shock waves through the surfing world. The Bruhwilers were not only ripping in their hoods and gloves, they were ripping in some incredible looking surf. Granted, they were a mere curiosity at first. But not for long. As the media slowly took notice, people realized Vancouver Island’s pristine coastline was ripe for exploration.
Two decades later it still is. But Tofino itself has been bitten hard by the surf bug. “There are literally thousands of surfers here in the summer now,” says Devries. “Most of them are just coming to learn how to surf. Surf camps and surf schools are big business here.”
While the Bruhwilers are still household names in town, Devries, now in his prime at 32, is carrying the Canadian surfing flag. Two years ago he won the first major ASP event held in Canada, which was a feat that drew national attention there. It also brought a lot more attention to Tofino, which is home to pricey spa retreats, nature tours, world-class fishing, and gorgeous beaches. Even wintertime storm watching is becoming a thing there.
Meanwhile, year-round surfers are taking it in stride. Fortunately, most of the best waves require boat rides up the coast, and a lot of local knowledge.
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