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Tofino, British Columbia, is now a sought after locale for surf trips, glamping, fishing getaways, and luxury vacations. It wasn’t always that way. It wasn’t that way even 20 years ago, really. Longtime residents adapt, embracing the good about changes to the town they love and fending off what they can. Like any recently discovered small, idyllic place.

The Bruhwilers have been living in the Tofino area for decades. The matriarch, Gisele Bruhwiler, stars as the narrator in the short film below, in her charming Quebec French telling the family tale of connection to the sea, living in harmony with a spectacular natural place. The Bruhwilers moved to Tofino years ago, when it was just a couple hundred fishermen and loggers in a small, grey town at the end of a road. As the years went by, two of the boys, Raph and Sepp Bruhwiler discovered surfing, discovered they had a talent for it, and also discovered their picturesque bit of Canada held world-class surf. So did the rest of the world. Like that, the Bruhwilers became Canada’s surf royalty.

“It’s not about where we live or the things we possess—those things are completely irrelevant,” Gisele says. “It has to do with a certain way of living amongst nature. Because that’s what keeps us alive. We are nature.”

As Gisele explains in the film though, they still live the same way as they did when they first arrived. Fishing, hunting, building things with their hands. “Your computer won’t hunt for you when you’re hungry,” she says, matter of factly. Something that’s a great deal more meaningful in rural British Columbia than in a highly connected urban space.

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To surf regularly in those parts is to be intensely aware of nature. The best waves are hidden in distant, rocky coves, requiring boats, water and weather knowledge, and courage to get to. Most of the time, the best waves are surfed during camp missions requiring multiple days of food, building a shelter, and knowing how to cope when things go wrong.

The environment provides a kind of baked in philosophy for living the good life.

“It’s not about where we live or the things we possess—those things are completely irrelevant,” Gisele says. “It has to do with a certain way of living amongst nature. Because that’s what keeps us alive. We are nature.”

This film isn’t even about Gisele Bruhwiler, by the way. She just steals the show. Kalum Bruhwiler, the youngest of the clan to test the pro surfing waters is the ostensible subject, but Gisele is our hero.

Photo: Julien Jeanson

Photo: Liam Mac

Photo: Mac

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Photo: Jeanson Photo: Jeanson

photo: Jeanson

Photo: Jeanson

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