Between 1883 and 1890, Robert DUNSMUIR developed a number of COAL mines here. The original mining camp was called Union, after the Union Coal Mining Company, which acquired the coal reserves in 1869; the company was bought by Dunsmuir in 1883. At its incorporation as a city in 1898, it was named after Cumberland, England. The area mines had a multi-ethnic work force including Chinese, Japanese, Blacks, Italians, Slavs and British. A significant Chinese community and a smaller Japanese community developed near Cumberland. Unhappy Cumberland miners were the impetus of the VANCOUVER ISLAND COAL STRIKE (1912). From the 1940s on, the community declined rapidly and logging replaced mining as the main industry. The town reverted to village status in 1958 after the closure of most of the mines. The last one closed in 1966.
Logging remains the major source of employment but agriculture has also been developed in the region. Cumberland has become a tourist destination for those interested in its unique history. The Cumberland Museum and Archives has a replica of a coal mine and offers guided tours of the village. Although little remains of the Chinese and Japanese communities, their sites are protected.
Author ALAN F.J. ARTIBISE Rev: KEN FAVRHOLDT
Links to Other Sites
Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce
The website for the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce. Check this site for more local links.
The official website for the Village of Cumberland.
See maps and statistical data for regions and communities throughout British Columbia. A Government of British Columbia website.
BC Geographical Names
Search the BC Geographical Names Information System for historical and geographical data about specific locations in British Columbia.
British Columbia Archives
Explore the fascinating history of BC through online digitized copies of selected government documents, manuscripts, maps, architectural plans, photographs, illustrations, audio and video files, newspapers and much more.
Cumberland Community Forest Society
This site focuses on local conservation programs in the scenic Cumberland region on Vancouver Island. Includes beautiful photographs of native flora found in the Cumberland Forest. Click on the menu on the left side of the page for an overview of the history of the local Chinese and Japanese communities, mining operations, and more.