This summer, the road to Tofino closed for some weeks due to wildfires—there’s never been a better time to support its creatives.

Seeing so many women in the line-up in Tofino on Vancouver Island is emboldening, particularly when you consider how frigid the water temps can be. This empowered community of women influenced by life on the water extends to the town’s prominence of artists and creatives. Somewhat unsurprising as new ‘Blue Mind’ research highlights that “living close to water increases creativity”. We sat down with a handful of them to chat about influences and processes, community, and of course, longboarding. 

The Photographer: Kait Rogers 

Kait Rogers spent two summers in Tofino working as a photographer for Pacific Surf Co. She had never intended photography to be her full-time gig. But after those first two stints, she realized it was something she truly loved, figured it was worth a shot, and moved to Tofino from Victoria full-time. Five years later, her career is going from strength to strength. 

What’s the female surf community like?

Our waves are fat, slow, and mushy, so longboarding is kind of the only option. Surfing is a very male-dominated sport, but we are so lucky here in Tofino to have such an unbelievably supportive women’s surf community. I have spent the last few years progressing alongside some amazing women who hype me up and push me every time we get in the water. 

There are also some amazing initiatives: in the fall, we have the women’s surf comp Queen of the Peak (put on by Billabong and Surf Sister) and, a local non-profit called Bitches N’ Barrels (“but actually nice girls and small waves”) has been running accessible surf trips.

Queen of the Peak, with Kait Rogers, photo @bryannabradleyphotography

How does where you live influence your photography process and style? 

I have jam-packed summers and quiet, slow winters, so it’s really a big game of Go, Go, Stop. For the past two years, I’ve focussed more on booking personal sessions which I don’t think would have happened elsewhere. Tofino is known worldwide for its beauty so there are endless vacationers hoping to create mementos of their time here.  

When your surroundings are this beautiful, it’s hard to stray too far from reality. I like to see real life reflected back at me—capturing over creating. And my editing process is about adding a little bit more of the feeling of being there.

Kait Rogers, Photo by Bryanna Bradley (@bryannabradleyphotography)

Do you think there’s a correlation between longboarding and focusing your life’s work on a creative pursuit? 

There’s definitely some correlation between surfing and being creative, but I also think that can be said for a lot of sports. Longboarding specifically has a go-with-the-flow connotation. We spend so much of our time living at the ocean’s mercy. 

This town is filled to the brim with amazing talent in photography, painting, ceramics, design; any creative outlet you can think of. Tofino is a magnet for those living a transient lifestyle—summers here, winters in the mountains or chasing the sun across the globe. And I think the transient lifestyle is a big draw for creatives.

I work around the surf forecast as much as I can and take time off each winter for a surf trip. At this point in my life, surfing comes first, so I am so lucky to have a job I love, a community that supports me, and a sport I am so passionate about, that all fits together as well as it does.

Kait Rogers, Photo by Hunter Gawne (@huntergawne)

The Musician: Alle

Alle (Bernardi) packed up her Mazda hatchback and moved to Tofino in the summer of 2016 after deciding she needed to be closer to the surf after a solo trip in South America. At the age of 5, she received her first keyboard and soon after was enrolled in classical music studies with the Royal Conservatory of Music, but didn’t go on to release any studio recordings until December 2019. She also regularly plays local gigs and tours across B.C.

Alle Bernardi (@alleboballe)

How does Tofino inspire your process and lyrics?

Connecting to the peace and quiet of nature has helped me evolve greatly as an artist. I write about my experiences and reflections from days in the ocean, surfing, exploring; creating space for my imagination. Usually, the only reason I pull myself away from the water is if it’s completely onshore or I have a melody or lyric idea and have to write it down before it disappears forever!

Alle Bernardi (@alleboballe)

Do you see a correlation between longboarding and focusing on music?

If surfing has taught me anything in the ten years I have had the privilege of enjoying it, it is patience. It takes time to develop a craft, which has translated into my choices and how I view wins and losses. Surfing has cultivated balance in my life and helped guide my career in a more healthy and positive direction. 

What’s the female longboarding and creative community like here?

It’s so challenging for me to imagine spending my days anywhere else because of the unique, wonderful community in Tofino. It isn’t easy to live on the peninsula year-round, so you have to get creative. Being surrounded by so many innovative business owners has inspired me to continue on this journey. I really look up to their ingenuity, adaptability, and support. 

Alle Bernardi (@alleboballe)

The Brand Creator: Lydia Ricard 

Lydia Ricard moved to Tofino almost 9 years ago by accident. Whistler had been her intended destination—moving from Montreal to learn English—but en route, she heard about surfing in Tofino, detoured…and never left! Since then she has coached longboarders, hosted talks, and founded the brand, Goofy Club Tofino

Lydia Ricard (@lydiaric), Photo by Marcus Paladino (@marcuspaladino)

How does Tofino inspire you creatively? 

The biggest thing is that you are surrounded by people that chose to make a life out of this special place. They decided they didn’t fit in the box, so they created their own. Being a tourist town, jobs are pretty limited to that industry, and during the off-season, it gets pretty quiet. That’s why a lot of people create—not only because they want to, but because they have to make a living here. Luckily, living at the end of the road means there’s room to create new products or services people wish they had themselves. For me, it’s a perfect mixing pot to test my limits and see what I’ll do to stay. Of course, being surrounded by nature and the ocean is inspiring, but for me, it’s the desire to make a living out of this place that pushes me creatively.


How and when did Goofy Club Tofino start? 

About 6-7 years ago, I was surfing with friends who all happened to be goofy footers; I called us the “Goofy Club”. The idea to bring us together through a brand was still present a few years later. With the help of Laurie Boudreault, and the talented Montreal artist Claudie Lamarre, the first shirt was born! I wanted something that was about having fun and represented the Tofino surf scene. I always loved to draw and design, but it took the back burner for a long time. I took the leap because I wanted more creativity in my life. I am still so excited to see people’s reactions; so many smiles!

Lydia Richard, Photo by @cam_ds

What about your Longboard talks?

They started as a fundraiser for MexilogFest and ISA World Championships. I got invited to both with a month’s notice and had to be creative in how I could financially get there. Someone suggested doing a talk to share my knowledge, and even though I was (and still am!) t-e-r-r-i-f-i-e-d to speak in public, it had to be done because my goal of going to the events was bigger than my fears. 


I had really good feedback and decided to keep doing them because I wished I had something like that when I got into longboarding; someone to geek out with and teach me how to noseride. My goal for the next few years is to help as many people as possible. I am so lucky to love teaching as much as I love surfing (I’m not kidding!), and I would love to offer more online coaching for people in communities that do not have access to high-level coaching. I also want to judge more competitions overseas so I can bring knowledge back to Canada and give longboarding the attention it deserves. 


Lydia Ricard, Photo by @cam_ds

The Creative Director and Painter: Laurie Boudreault

Laurie Boudreault is well-known as the Founder and Creative Director of Merge, the store filled with carefully curated, intentional artisan goods, as well as its own skincare and clothing lines. But lately, Laurie’s talents have seeped beyond Merge’s creative direction into a more traditional art form: painting. 

Laurie, Photo by Cristina Gareau

How did this foray into painting come about?

I picked up the brushes again as I needed to reconnect with art supplies and material—being creative on the computer didn’t spark as much for me. I was inspired by some artists doing big canvases and thought of giving it a shot in the long winter months. A fall trip to Europe also inspired me and I took a bunch of notes while travelling on feelings and thoughts I wanted to express. Growing up, I painted with various mediums but I’ve really built up my acrylic supplies this time.

I’m just doing it for fun right now, but trying to allocate time to do so as if it’s a job. I hope to find my style and differentiate myself. Then build a portfolio, a collection, and sell some in the near future if any pieces resonate with people. I would be thrilled to see one hanging in someone else’s house!

Protection by Laurie

How does Tofino inspire you?

The lifestyle here allows me to slow down and focus on creative pursuits; we don’t spend countless hours in traffic or spend money doing city things. Although being in a small sleepy-at-times town does sometimes make me crave city time. A weekend in the city fulfills me as I see inspiration everywhere. I bring that back to my little hometown for personal or Merge projects. I think the difference in rhythm is what makes it interesting for me and I would rather live in Tofino and escape to the city for inspiration than vice versa.

Laurie by Cristina Gareau

What does longboarding mean for your creative life? 

Longboarding is a way for me to reconnect to myself and nature. I disconnect from everyday  concerns, which supports my creative pursuits as I have more space to reflect. These days though, being almost six months pregnant with a prominent belly, it’s becoming a little tricky to do so. But I am finding alternatives to still be in the water and bring that little one for some rides, like boogie boarding—so fun!

Laurie’s photos were taken by Cristina Gareau, a longboarding photographer in town with a very emotive style she is well-recognized for, and whose work can be found online with prints in Merge.

Your body is your home – Laurie