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Cumberland

More than a Mining Town


The lands around modern day Cumberland and the Comox Valley are the traditional, unceded territory of the K’ómoks people. When the settlers came they named the community "Cumberland" after a town in England, but, "Comox" the name of the valley in which this town sits, is an anglicized version of the Kwak'wala word kw'umuxws, meaning "plentiful." Before it was Cumberland, the mining operation here began under the name Union, but little progress was made in the operation until Vancouver Islands coal magnate Robert Dunsmuir took an interest in the area's many coal seams. With fresh capital, the mines boomed and several small communities of miners established settlements nearby the mines. By 1898, the newly incorporated city of Cumberland had become a community of British and European settlers in the centre of an array of nearby settlements of Chinese, Japanese, and African-American miners, labourers, and businesspeople. While these settlements are no longer standing, the town continues to celebrate their legacy. Over the years, Cumberland has been the site of labour movements, horrifying mining accidents, devastating fires, and wholehearted celebrations. Despite the decline of the coal industry in the mid 20th century, the community has endured, and today is a thriving community that attracts young families with its heart, arts, music, and proximity to the best recreation Vancouver Island has to offer.

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Cumberland


Then and Now Photos

The #3 Mine


The #3 Mine The #3 Mine
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Cumberland Museum & Archives C040-001 On This Spot

& Now

A photo of Chinatown with the No. 3 mine in the background. From 1888 on the Cumberland mines had a high proportion of Chinese workers. Cumberland's "Chinatown" was a thriving, self-contained, organized community that was built on swampy land set aside for them. The community disintegrated in the 1960's following the loss of work and a devastating fire. Today the land has begun to revert to swampland again.

Jumbo's Cabin


Jumbo's Cabin Jumbo's Cabin
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Cumberland Museum & Archives C040-049 On This Spot

1960S & Now

Another photo of Jumbo at his cabin not long before the demolition of the remaining buildings in Chinatown.

A View of Cumberland's Main Street


A View of Cumberland's Main Street A View of Cumberland's Main Street
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Cumberland Museum & Archives C270-007 On This Spot

Late 1800s & Now

A shot looking up Dunsmuir Ave. The Waverly can be made out near the crest of the hill.

Fire Wheel at the Waverly


Fire Wheel at the Waverly Fire Wheel at the Waverly
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Cumberland Museum & Archives C100-004 On This Spot

1910-19 & Now

Fire wheel pulled by several men pose is in front of two buildings. The Waverly Hotel is on the right. By the 1910s, many areas relied on steam technology to fight fires, but in the 1800s, much of firefighting was done by volunteers hand pumping water onto the fire. The wheel in this photo appears as though it was an earlier hand pumped model. The men in this photo were likely community volunteers.

Street Scene


Street Scene Street Scene
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Cumberland Museum & Archives C040-337 On This Spot

1910 & Now

A quiet street scene in Chinatown..

Looking up Third Street


Looking up Third Street Looking up Third Street
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Cumberland Museum & Archives C270-023 On This Spot

& Now

This photo looks up Third Street. A dog is just about to run across the frame in the bottom right corner just in front of the Federal Building, the first one on the right. The wooden boardwalks allowed pedestrians to walk down the street and keep their hems free from mud.

A Quiet Street Scene


A Quiet Street Scene A Quiet Street Scene
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Cumberland Museum & Archives C270-059 On This Spot

Sept. 14, 1921 & Now

This photo shows a quiet moment on Dunsmuir Street. Only one parked car, and a couple pedestrians are visible. The Waverly Hotel is visible on the left.

Shorty's Pool Room


Shorty's Pool Room Shorty's Pool Room
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Cumberland Museum & Archives C270-001 On This Spot

1920 & Now

Shorty's Pool Room and Vendome Restaurant on Dunsmuir Street. Shorty's Pool Room operated from 1916 to 1932.

The No. 6 Mine


The No. 6 Mine The No. 6 Mine
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Cumberland Museum & Archives C270-071 On This Spot

& Now

A view of the houses on Derwent Street with the No. 6 mine in the background.

Empire Days Parade


Empire Days Parade Empire Days Parade
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Cumberland Museum & Archives C270-021 On This Spot

1930 & Now

A parade down Dunsmuir Ave marches past the Waverly and the Victory Hotels. The parade may have been a part of the Empire Day celebrations, which take place on May long weekend every year. After extensive renovations the Waverly looks much different today, while the Victory Hotel building no longer exists.

Fire at King George Hotel


Fire at King George Hotel Fire at King George Hotel
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Cumberland Museum & Archives C100-022 On This Spot

1933 & Now

The King George Hotel is consumed by flame in this 1933 photo. The fire broke out at the hotel and was one of the most devastating fires to scorch Cumberland. Despite the destruction of the fire which claimed 18 commercial buildings and 10 houses, the majority of the buildings were rebuilt within 6 months.

Observing the Fire


Observing the Fire Observing the Fire
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Cumberland Museum & Archives C100-007 On This Spot

1933 & Now

Louis Scarvada watches anxiously in the white apron with his back to the camera as the King George Hotel burns. The businesses from left to right are: Mcleans jewelry store, the government liquor store, and King George Hotel. To the right, partially obscured by smoke, are two buildings owned by Scarvadas; the Scarvadas grocery store, and a candy store.

Parade Float outside Tarbell's Store


Parade Float outside Tarbell's Store Parade Float outside Tarbell's Store
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Cumberland Museum & Archives C080-081 On This Spot

1960 & Now

A parade float in front of the Tarbell & Son store. The store had begun as a hardware and paint store, but over the years expanded to include sporting goods, appliances, furniture, and china. After C. H. Tarbell's death in 1930, his son George managed it until he died in 1960, the same year this photo was taken. George's wife and sister took over management of the business after George's death.

Procession on Dunsmuir


Procession on Dunsmuir Procession on Dunsmuir
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Cumberland Museum & Archives C270-064 On This Spot

1960s & Now

A military procession marches down Dunsmuir past the old museum building first on the left, followed by the old post office building in the background.

Dunsmuir from 4th Street


Dunsmuir from 4th Street Dunsmuir from 4th Street
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Cumberland Museum & Archives C270-063 On This Spot

1960s & Now

A street scene catching a crowd gathered on the sides of Dunsmuir Street to catch a parade. The Post Office building still stands today and is the 2nd building on the left.


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