Surf Shacks 086

Raph Bruhwiler
Tofino, BC

Matt Titone

Tofino’s Raph Bruhwiler epitomizes what makes Canadian surfers so badass: not only is he kind and generous, but he’s also capable of ripping when the conditions are (more often than not) cold and treacherous, and can captain a boat, hunt, fish, and tackle just about anything nature can throw at him. Fittingly, the Bruhwiler compound is warm, humble, and filled with natural heirlooms collected in the wild, as well as a loving family that cares deeply about their homeland.

Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone

Who are you? Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in Tofino on Chesterman Beach and grew up surfing there. I started at eight years old. My dad came over from Switzerland at a young age and married my mom, who is a First Nation Algonquin from Quebec. I’ve lived here in Tofino my whole life. Our house was a few steps from the beach. My siblings and I had nothing else to do, so we surfed.

Tell us about your job in the Coast Guard. What does a typical day look like for you?

Same as a fireman but on water. We have a station and boats to keep maintained; we go out on patrols on some days and get called out on all ocean- related emergencies.

You must have a lot of crazy stories. What was one of the scariest incidents you were involved with on the job?

Too many. A lot I try to forget about, but they are al- ways there. We go out on calls in gnarly conditions and there is no one coming out to get us if something goes wrong. We have a really good trained crew right now in Tofino, so it’s great.

Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone

What are your favorite parts about Tofino and the area where you live?

Just being able to get on a boat and have all the space to go enjoy the outdoors.

What’s it like being a surfer on Vancouver Island? What are the greatest pros and cons?

The cons: of course it can get pretty cold and rain for weeks on end. The pros are lots of nature, it’s clean, and there’s lots of space.

Have you seen the area change over the years?

Yes, it has changed so much. Beautiful places attract people—a lot of people with money, so everything goes up in price. It’s getting harder to live here. I’m bummed for my kids because they probably won’t be able to afford anything when they grow up. But I’m most likely not leaving; I grew up here and this area is in my blood.

Matt Titone
Matt Titone

Any parting thoughts, words of wisdom, or sage advice?

Live simply, try to learn how to survive in your home environment for when shit hits the fan. Be happy and make your home comfy for your family.

Discover more creative surfers’ homes in our books; Surf Shacks® Vol. 1, and Vol. 2 available now!

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Matt Titone

A goofy-footed graphic designer who hails from the first state, Delaware. After attending Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL then graduating from SCAD in Savannah, GA with a BFA in Graphic Design and Illustration, Matt moved to NYC and found work as a freelance designer and art director. In 2006 he moved west to Venice, CA where he co-founded ITAL/C Studio and now resides a bit further north in Oxnard.

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