Surf Ontario might just be the perfect representative of Toronto’s surfing scene: Tucked away in an easy-to-miss building on Eastern Avenue, you have to walk through an art gallery just to get to it. The shop—a long, narrow room lined with surfboards, paddleboards, and skateboards ranging from $300 to $3,300—is a well-hidden gem. (Not unlike surfing in Toronto.)
It started a decade ago as a surfing school founded by Mike Sandusky, who’s surfed more than 200 shores across the world. After running a makeshift shop out of his garage for a couple of years, Sandusky set up in Leslieville last November, a 15-minute drive from the Scarborough Bluffs, one of the city’s most surf-friendly locales. With a small staff and a collection of brands unavailable elsewhere in the province, Surf Ontario is the 33-year-old’s way of proving that you can, in fact, surf the Great Lakes.
That’s not to say it’s easy. To arrange lessons ($89 an hour), Sandusky watches the weather vigilantly—high winds in the right direction mean ridable waves—and emails clients with a time and location. Local surfers are known for their willingness to spontaneously drive great distances for waves, commonly in stormy, freezing weather.
“Back in the day,” says Sandusky, “when you said you surfed the lakes, people thought you were crazy. Most people still do, but there’s a higher percentage who aren’t so shocked. Maybe three out of 10.”
Surf Ontario, 914 Eastern Ave., 416-906-5793, surfontario.ca