Made in Canada: Great Lakes
film

Made in Canada: Great Lakes

Professional surfer Kevin Schulz travels to a unique surfing destination, the landlocked city of Toronto. Here he learns about a community of dedicated freshwater surfers stewarded by Antonio Lennert and Lucas Murnaghan, co-founders of the unlikely surf shop, Surf the Greats. Travel along as Kevin explores what makes this community so special.

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I have witnessed the exponential growth of surfing on the Great Lakes since the first time I paddled out here. More importantly, I have been fortunate to witness the evolution of our surfers and our surf scene, one that embraces diversity and inclusivity. Over the years, we’ve had the opportunity to host professional and amateur surfers from all corners of the world to Surf the Greats for the first time, and nothing bring us more joy than to see a surfer in disbelief with our waves when they first lay their eyes on an incoming set.

Kevin Schulz Made in Canada Great Lakes by Ryan Osman

Photograph by Ryan Osman

A couple years ago we had the honour to welcome San Clemente’s legend Kevin Schulz to our community to experience what the Greats had to offer. We had seen Kevin surfing and competing in Tofino several times and when the opportunity arose for him to come to Toronto, we were excited to see what a surfer of his calibre could do with our waves. Kevin first entered the WSL Qualifying Series in 2011 and making the US Surf Team in 2018, but it was probably the backflip transfer to another wave at the Stab High 2.0 at BSR Surf Resort’s Freak Peak, in Waco in 2019 that really placed him on the spotlight worldwide. It was shortly after that event that he came to surf with us, and we were psyched to see surf with him and watch him land some of his tricks on the lakes. 

Made in Canada Great Lakes Kevin Schulz by Lucas Murnaghan

Photograph by Lucas Murnaghan

Looking back on this trip, nearly 2 years ago now, I can easily say that that was one of the most unique, fun and surprising trips I have ever been on. From when I had first started surfing, I’d heard stories about ‘surfing the Great Lakes’ and hoped one day I would have to opportunity. When this trip popped up it was an easy ‘yes’. Having worked with producer and filmmakers Mike Bromley and Ryan Meichtry before I knew it was going to be fun from the get go.

—Kevin Schulz

Kevin Schulz Made in Canada Great Lakes by Lucas Murnaghan

Photograph by Lucas Murnaghan

The opportunity came together and we connected with Nova Scotia and Santa Barbara’s filmmakers Mike Bromley and Ryan Meichtry. They were working on a 3-part series on surfing in Canada, to include the east and west coasts, along with the Great Lakes. As any surfing expedition goes, we set a waiting period starting in September and constantly kept checking the forecast for the right swell. We were looking for a solid 4-5 day swell so that Kevin could surf a few of our best waves here, but that only happens a couple times a year here. After much back and forth, the stars finally began to align for us. It was late November in 2019 when we made the call and got everyone in Toronto for a week of chasing one of the biggest storms of the season. With consistent gale speed winds slowly shifting directions over the week, we scored solid conditions on Lake Ontario, Erie, Huron, and in Georgian Bay.

Kevin Schulz Made in Canada Great Lakes by Ryan Osman

Photograph by Ryan Osman

We were fortunate enough to get 5 days of strong, gale force winds in the Toronto area, which is what generates the swell in the lakes. The waves were far more powerful than expected, and one thing I noted was the strength of the current when surfing a few select spots. The local community was extremely hospitable and welcoming, and we surfed some damn good waves too. I learned that the quality of surf on the lakes is quite good.

—Kevin Schulz

During that week there was a lot of excitement in our community about Kevin’s visit and wherever he was, our local surfers were stoked to share some waves with him. His friendly and supportive personality along with his surfing skills made it very easy for him to be immediately welcomed to our lineups. We got to share many waves, meals, pints and stories with him, and everything was documented into what became ‘Made in Canada: Great Lakes’. The short film, directed by Ryan Meichtry and produced by Mike Bromley, portrays Kevin’s experience surfing on the Great Lakes for the first time and connecting with the locals. In the film, Kevin creates a special connection with Larry Cavero—a Peruvian expat who’s become one of the leading characters of our community. The film portrays Larry’s narrative fleeing his home country during the civil war to find in Canada a new home. Last but not least, it also features our co-founder, Lucas Murnaghan, sharing his love for our community and our Great Lakes prior to his passing earlier this year.

Kevin Schulz Made in Canada Great Lakes by Sam Moffatt

Photograph by Sam Moffatt

Surfing the Great Lakes was at first a ‘bucket list’ item to me, however after visiting and surfing there and hanging out with the locals, I find myself constantly checking the forecasts, longing to return to surf and explore. The lakes have some serious untapped potential for surf spots and I am looking to go back and find some of those places with my fellow Great Lakes surfers soon. I am beyond thankful to have visited such a unique location and experience the local surf culture in the Great Lakes. Thank you to those individuals who made me feel at home on my visit. See you all soon!

—Kevin Schulz

Made in Canada: Great Lakes. Kevin Schulz surfs the Great Lakes. Photograph by Ryan Osman

Photograph by Ryan Osman

It is very safe to say that Kevin has raised the bar in terms of surfing on the Great Lakes, but most importantly, he has shown that humility and camaraderie is and should always be a key personality trait of any surfer. We look forward to sharing this film with you. 

 

Words by Antonio Lennert.

Antonio Lennert Portrait

Antonio is an ISA-certified surf coach, movement teacher and community builder. He was born and raised in Brazil and graduated from OCAD University with a degree in Graphic Design. Antonio is the co-founder and CEO of Surf the Greats and also teaches Carver Clinics in Toronto. Find him on Instagram.