“It’s just so incredible to constantly be in flow with the ocean, trying to figure it out—but you never really do. Every wave you’ll ever ride is going to be different. Every single one. I love that challenge…There’s nothing more humbling than being out there—sitting in this massive ocean, and being part of it.”
When Catherine Bruhwiler was one month old, her parents bought a little trailer and drove across Canada, relocating from Quebec to a then-little-known town on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. They built a home right on Chesterman Beach, where their backyard was the wilds and waves of Tofino. Catherine remembers the first time she saw someone surfing outside her childhood home—at the time, it was a novelty. Before long, her older brother Raph had taught himself to surf. Catherine and her other brothers, Sepp and Francis, followed quickly behind. By 12, she had caught her first green wave—which, to the uninitiated, is when you’re riding the swell as opposed to white water.
Fast forward 30 years, and the Bruhwilers are widely considered to be Canada’s first family of surfing. Catherine was the first female professional surfer in the country—an early Roxy girl. In addition to her surfing career, she’s found a passion—and a knack—for paddle surfing; in 2019, she competed on behalf of Canada at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.
But she says her proudest accomplishment as a surfer isn’t professional, but personal. “One of the things that’s made me the happiest about surfing is just being able to share that experience and passion with other family members. My son Kalum, my nephews, nieces. I’ve taken my two-year-old granddaughter surfing. She loves it. I can’t keep her out of the water. She’ll be so cold she has purple lips and still say, ‘I want to go in the waves!’”