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Surfing Gatineau with Swellpoivre

Julien Hudon by Jean-Michel Beaudin

It is easy to get hooked on the sport of surfing, changing suddenly your whole life. You are now driven by a burning fire that constantly pushes you further in search of new waves to surf, new adventures to live. 

But, if you’re like me, your mind is probably too busy thinking about unknown places offering perfect swells to realize what we have in our own country. It is hard to enjoy where you are at when the ocean feels so far away, and this is even worst when you don’t know how many waves you can surf here, in Quebec.

We have the chance to have two standing waves located in Montreal, but that sums up what we have. Well, what we were aware of. I recently discovered Swellpoivre, an Instagram account created by four guys living and surfing in the Outaouais. Their purpose? “It is mainly for fun”, said Julien Hudon, one of the founders. “There’s river surfing in Montreal already and it’s really part of the city, but it isn’t the same thing for us. We wanted to show others that you could surf in the Outaouais, that it could also become part of our culture”! 

I liked their name. Swellpoivre.

I liked their whole concept, sharing their passion and the alternative of surfing. 

The founders, Julien Hudon, Philippe Beaudin, Jean-Michel Beaudin and Marc Andre Seguin, were easy to relate to.

And, I mostly liked the idea that you could surf in the Outaouais. Not only one or two spots, but 8 different spots just waiting for you.

On the way back from Hampton Beach, the guys were casually talking in the car when the idea of launching Swellpoivre popped up in their head. The idea was well-thought and easy: Marc-Andre is quite good on social media & they are passionate about surfing, always travelling to different part of the globe to chase the waves. “It’s awesome, it’s original and no one thought of it before, it gives people opportunity to discover something new in the surfing world”, says Julien.

But, Swellpoivre, what does that means? The concept of combining French and English together is a good representation of what we have in Quebec, a bilingual province, especially when Gatineau is located so close to Ontario. Philippe is the genius behind the name, which he randomly found and everyone quickly accepted. No real meaning… except the one you want it to have! “I did an interview once with a local journal and the journalist asked me about the name… I didn’t know what to say! I was by myself, so I just gave it my own meaning: the water is salty, and you pinch your little peppercorn / your touch of style. And swell is just another word to talk about the waves. It makes sense, no? [laugh]”, added Julien. 

Finding spots that are working well and safe as well seems quite challenging, but for the guys, it was an easy step. Philippe, already surfing with his brother Jean-Michel, decided to invite Julien to go surfing with them as he knew his love for this sport.  

I only surfed the ocean at the time, but the river always interested me and to try that in Gatineau, I found it quite cool”, says Julien. “The first time was… surprising! It can sometimes make you feel unsafe when you’re out there,” he added. 

Surfing in Gatineau means that you constantly depend on the water level, which changes every day. At this time of the year, there’s not that many waves anymore, we see rocks at the bottom. It’s disappointing, but as they told us, the best part is in Spring, when the snow start to melt!
This is what we can call cold water surfing for sure, and that’s where the fun hides: the challenge of getting out there, wearing a thick wetsuit, vaseline in your face and boiling hot water waiting for you. 

Compared to Montreal, I would say our water level is way lower than their spots. We need to be careful as there are a lot of rocks, so it’s easy to break our fins,” explained Julien when I asked about the differences. “Our current is less strong, which allows us to get back on the wave easily if we fall – so much easier”! 

There are eight different surf spots in the Outaouais, but they are not all working at the same time and they are not the same level of accessibility either. Two of the most popular spots would be “Sewer Wave”, where the guys usually go to, located between the borders of Quebec/Ontario and the second one is close to Bates Island.

With the constant rise of people interested in surfing and involved in the sport in Quebec, we would expect local skate/surf shops to be interested in developing something out of it. Especially, developing something with Swellpoivre! But, I guess they haven’t seen the potential yet and until then, the guys are just going to have fun travelling the world and sharing with you their adventures.

Lose yourself in their Instagram to have a daily reminder of how pretty the world is, especially when you’re a surfer! No matter what’s next, only one thing come to our mind when we talk about them: inspiring. 

Stay inspired and follow them!

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