Some Cape Breton Surfing History

This is an article that was shared with me a few weeks ago. It highlights surfing on Cape Breton Island in the mid-60’s to today.

A few of these pictures have quite a bit of significance to me and I’m sure to anyone else who have ever surfed the Southeast coast of Cape Breton. It looked warmer back then!

The following are words and pictures from Gary T. (You can read the entire article and see more pictures at his website: Gary’s Surf Page):

A little bit of my history, I bought an old Surfboards Hawaii board in 1966 and was introduced to surfing by a friend Bill Niven from Sydney N.S.

Another friend of mine Gerald Johnston from Glace Bay, also bought an old board and we hit the road every weekend and holiday, to checkout all the possible surf spots in Cape Breton and beyond. Jerry was in better physical condition than I was, as he continually worked out and did weight showed in his surfing ability.

Gary 1966

Several of our trips were to Hampton Beach N.H. which I discovered on my solo vacation to the USA.

On that trip, I surfed Gilgo Beach on Long Island in New York, met some wonderful people and had an excellent time. My favorite spot was Hampton or Rye Beach in New Hampshire. The Local Surfers were kind enough to take me along on several side trips to Beaches up and down the coast of N.H and Maine.

A lot of the guys and girls were just getting ready to go to University but some had already gotten their Draft notice to serve in the Vietnam War. They were very scared as to what the future had in store for them.

Lots of tears on the Beach in those days…

Jerry and I surfed Ingonish Beach and it was good during heavy wind days or after a storm. During those times we knew the Lifeguards, and when they would close the beach to swimmers, they would let us get our rides.

Another favorite spot was Kennington Cove Beaches (There are two spots) The main Beach has a good break and there is a point break but you have to watch out for the rocks. It is located inside the Fortress of Louisbourg, but the Security people knew we would not cause a problem and let us stay in the car overnight to catch the surf early next morning.

In those days, the boards did not have Leashes and unless you were careful, you could damage your board as well as doing a lot of swimming to catch it. Which I often did….

We gradually got better and ordered 2 new Boards from California. They were the Ski model by Dewey Weber who was well respected as a expert surfer at that time.

I had several conversations with Him, and he wanted me to start selling Weber boards. Unfortunately, in Cape Breton, there were very few people surfing in those days. Money was tight but we were fortunate to have good jobs wich allowed us to do some travelling.

Back then, I didn’t know anyone who was surfing at Lawerencetown, but my friends repeatedly told me that there was activity in that area. I don’t have any names but I would love to locate anyone who was active there during that era.

I worked for CJCB TV in Sydney at that time and they did a local show called “Tourist Topics”. The man in charge was Evan Loyd and He arranged for Crawley Films to do a film in Cape Breton. When he heard we were surfing, nothing would do but they had to shoot us in action. Jerry worked for Maritime Tel and Tel Phone Co. and couldn’t get away.

We decided to try a Local spot but it was flat and they only got a clip of me falling off my board… on a poor excuse for a wave…..anyway it was my film debut.

We traveled the eastern side of the island and found many excellent spots to surf. We both had jobs and weren’t able to spend the time it takes to be really excellent surfers but we enjoyed the sport and had a great time doing it. Jerry passed away in November, 1996, and I shall always miss Him. He was a great friend, and always ready to try a new spot.

This page is as much his efforts as mine and I can truly say We did it together.

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Again, you can check out the full article here and thanks to Gary for sharing these words and great pics!