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Historic Cumberland - A Step Back in Time

The historic, quiet village of Cumberland is nestled in the foothills of the Beaufort mountains, surrounded by forest, bordered by the incredible wilderness of the beautiful Comox Valley, the eternally snow-capped mountains and the inspiring Comox Glacier within view. Cumberland�s population is approaching 3,000.

If driving from Victoria the time is about one and one-half hours to Nanaimo. From Nanaimo there are two routes to Cumberland: If you take the scenic coast shore route on Highway 19 the driving time will be about one hour and twenty-five minutes. Or you can further shorten the driving time to Cumberland by taking the new Inland Island Highway from Nanaimo to Courtenay, which is an hour�s drive. Cumberland is ten minutes west from Courtenay.

After a day of skiing or golfing nearby, or recreation activity of your choice, Cumberland is the perfect retreat and has something for everyone..

Spend a day exploring the countless unchartered walking trails - to an old mine or hike to the lake for a picnic and swim. See the final resting place of the Asians who worked in the coal mines, at Chinese and Japanese Cemeteries located on Union Road off Cumberland Road.

Take a walking tour of fascinating heritage buildings in Cumberland that date back to the 1800s; browse through some of the unique shops downtown, and then enjoy lunch at one of the many great village cafes. Don�t miss the antique shops for a real step back in time - travel almost any street to see heritage buildings and trees over a century old.

The Cumberland Recreation Institute offers a universal gym, sauna, whirlpool, squash courts, indoor climbing wall and a wide variety of scheduled programs for all ages.

Events in Cumberland:

Oct 31: Children�s Halloween Party at the CRI, with prizes, hot dogs, juices [free].

Nov 30: Christmas Artisans and Crafts Faire at the CRI.

December: Cumberland�s Christmas Lighting Contest, Sponsored by the Cumberland Chamber of Commerce. Contest for Business & Residential.

December: Cumberland Santa Claus Parade: Santa Claus Parade starts at Village Park and ends at the Cumberland Recreation Hall. Then you can have lunch and visit with Santa. This event happens within the first two weeks of December.

1st Saturday in December: Cumberland Chamber of Commerce Arts & Crafts Faire

9 am - 4 pm CRI Hall, Cumberland. Door prizes, Concession, Free admission.

Dec 14: Children�s Christmas Party at the CRI.

Feb/Mar: Early Empire Days Cinch at the CRI.

April 17: Children�s Easter Party at the CRI.

May 1: Baked Bean Dinner, at the Cultural Centre.

May 10: Empire Days Cinch, at the CRI.

May 17-19: Annual Empire Days; May Queen crowning, Soap Box Derby, dinner, dancing.

May 25: Cumberland-Port Alberni Cavalcade at the CRI parking lot.

June 4: CUMBERLAND�S ANNUAL CAVALCADE - The Valley Link Highway Project. This event is sponsored by a committee made up of citizens from the Comox Valley, Port Alberni and the Cowichan Valley.

The Cavalcade is to promote the concept that was recognised by political leaders from all over Vancouver Island to Link the Cowichan Valley, Port Alberni and the Comox Valley with a Highway. This event usually takes place at the end of May.

June 20-21: Miner�s Day Memorial Celebration.

July 26: Classic Cruisers Car Parade - Cumberland/Courtenay.

July 27: Classic Cruisers Car Show at Village Park.

August: Waverly Hotel�s Golf Tournament at Sunnydale Golf Course Courtenay 336-8322

Aug 1-4: NADS Fastball Tourney at Village Park.

Mid Aug: Community Benefit Slo-Pitch Tournament at Village Park.

Aug/Sept: Heritage Lemon Tea, Cumberland.

Cumberland offers a variety of accommodations:

1. BED & BREAKFAST: 2593 Derwent Ave., Cumberland, BC [year round].

2. THE CATS PYJAMAS - 336-8884 2695 Windermere Ave., Cumberland, BC. This is a large heritage home with a cozy fireplace and a welcoming view of the Beaufort Range. Your Hosts: Lucy & Andreas Conradi.

3. THE WAVERLEY HOTEL - 336-8322 2692 Dunsmuir Ave., Cumberland, BC. Bright airy rooms or one bedroom suites with phones and television. Located on the B.C. Transit route for added convenience. Your Hosts: Harvey & Shannon Brown.

4. CUMBERLAND LAKE PARK CAMPGROUND is a 57-acre recreational park, located on the beautiful glacier-fed Comox Lake only 3 km west of the Village of Cumberland. Come and enjoy this family-oriented campground in the heart of the Comox Valley. This offers excellent summer beach, campsite and boat launch facilities.

In 1853 J.W. Mackay found coal in the Comox Valley and years later this was confirmed by Commander Robert Brown, who described a �rich coal field in the Comox Valley�, in 1864. He, along with other prospectors, organised the �Union Company�, from which the early settlement derived its� name, Union.

Many unsuccessful attempts were made to mine the area, until finally, in 1883, Robert Dunsmuir & Sons acquired all shares in the local coal operations. Dunsmuir invested half a million dollars in developing the mines and improving the wharf in Union Bay. Under the direction of Dunsmuir's son, James, in 1892, a new town site was developed east of Union.

The village was named after Cumberland County in England and its streets, after places within that county. Cumberland incorporated in 1898 with coal mining succeeding for years, until the production of oil in Leduc, Alberta in 1947, which marked the beginning of the end for the Cumberland coal industry. By 1966 the last mine, Tsable River Mine, closed and Cumberland transformed into a quiet peaceful village.

For a tour of a model coalmine, stop by the Cumberland Museum and Archives. Downstairs is a replica of the old coal mine, which was constructed a few years ago by retired miners...this gives visitors a very good idea of the feel of a coal mine. As you start down the stairs you will see a model dressed as a Draegerman, a miner who went down to rescue during cave-ins, explosions, or other disasters. Working in groups of six, each carried 30 pounds of gear and had to be prepared to stay below for up to three days, searching for and assisting trapped or injured colleagues.

The word �Draegerman� came from the Draeger Company in Germany that made the safety equipment carried by the �Draegermen�.

With your first view of the mine you will see the coal cart, which can hold one ton of coal. Five of these were pulled up to the lift by one mule. From there, the coal was hoisted to the surface for processing and shipment.

The museum displays many of the original maps of the underground working of the coal mines.

Learn the story of labour leader organiser Ginger Goodwin, watch the video presentation about Cumberland�s Chinatown and take a look at the last surviving building, Jumbo�s Cabin, situated on Lake Road. It has been home to a county jail, the office of the paymaster for the Union Colliery Co [1869-1883], and was the home of Hor Sue Mah, Chinatown�s last resident.

Don�t forget your camera as Cumberland�s scenic beauty offers unparalleled photo opportunities for the camera buff. About the author: The historic, quiet village of Cumberland is nestled in the foothills of the Beaufort mountains, surrounded by forest, bordered by the incredible wilderness of the beautiful Comox Valley


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Margot B: author of a book & 100's of articles on health & the environment. Margot B & Associates consist of a staff of outstanding, professional writers in the US, Canada, France, Belgium, New Zealand. Copyright � Margot B & Associates;  Author Profile

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