Words by: Bronwyn Fache
Photos by: Jeremy Koreski
Canada may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of surfing, but there’s a cold-water surf culture that permeates both the East and West Coast.
There’s perhaps no one more influential in putting Canadian surfing on the map than Pete Devries. While some may dream of crystal blue water and tropical temps, Pete prefers to keep things cool.
Born and raised in Tofino, B.C, Pete grew up watching his dad surf at Chesterman Beach and it didn’t take long before he paddled out himself. By his early teens, he was hooked — competing throughout North America and Europe.
Pete wears the New Atom LT Hoody in Dracaena
“Having the opportunity to travel for contests was a big thing, being able to see other parts of the world and [learn from] different surfers was huge for me. I’d always watch videos and burn out my VHS tapes watching my favourite surfers. Seeing their level and how good they were from such a young age was really motivating,” says Pete.
This motivation propelled Pete to excel even further in the sport — scoring nine consecutive Canadian Men’s Championships, the 2009 Cold Water Classic title and a coveted spot on the cover of Surfer Magazine. While he’s made a career riding waves all over the world, Pete’s always happy to return to his home break, his wife Lisa, their dog and 10-year old son Asher.
Pete’s watched Tofino change from a quaint, remote town to an eco-tourism hotspot, attracting the likes of individuals from all over the world.
“Tofino was a logging and fishing outpost and my parents were hippying around, catching rides into town, chilling on the beach — it was a different world back then,” says Pete.
This year, with strict international travel restrictions due to the global pandemic, many Canadians swapped summer plans abroad for a cozy weekend on the coast. This led to a ballooning effect quite like never before.
For many towns like Tofino, tourism is an essential industry that allows for local economies to thrive, but can also take a toll on the natural environment and those who call it home. It’s a balance that requires careful maneuvering.
“I’ve always been very weary of putting personal views and expressions out on social media because I am a very private person. I like to put my work out there, but not necessarily myself. But I’m getting more comfortable in that respect and want to do more to see this area grow in a positive direction, while having a voice for people who have lived here for a long time,” he explains.
Pete’s passion for local conservation is fuelled greatly by his desire to see the next generation thrive.
“I think we have such a great crop of young people — not just surfers, but amazing individuals who are really respectful and great ambassadors for our town and the sport.”
While Pete typically spends his summers exploring new breaks in the Southern Hemisphere, this year was all about hunkering down at his home on Chesterman Beach. Housework, homeschooling and street hockey seemed to be the main themes of 2020.
“I’m frothing for boat trips and cold adventures, and definitely excited to get some projects going.”
This fall’s shaping up to bring just that, with multiple film projects and collaborations with sponsors currently in the works. As Arc’teryx’s first ever pro sufer on the team, the future for Pete is looking swell.