Cumberland

Cumberland, BC, incorporated as a village in 1958, population 3398 (2011c), 2762 (2006c). The Village of Cumberland is located on the east coast of Vancouver Island about 14 km south of COURTENAY and 93 km northwest of NANAIMO.

History

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.

Present Day

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.