Welcome to our blog – Digging Deeper – digging into Cumberland history.

Keep an eye out for monthly articles written by locals about our community history.

About the blogger, Dawn:  I don’t have coal dust in my blood but I spent my childhood in a mining town just outside of Sudbury, Ontario, the site of the first-ever Miner’s memorial held in Canada in 1985 My great grandfather, my grandfather and my dad all worked at various times at the nickel mines in the Sudbury Basin. First for Mond Nickel, then later for Inco (now Vale). When I moved to Cumberland with my family in 1992 it was like coming home: same rolling hills (just a bit taller), with warmer winters and fewer mosquitoes. 

April 20: Close To My Heart | Part Two

Sometime this month, ornamental cherry trees will bloom at Coal Creek Historic Park. Planted in 2009, the trees commemorate thirty-one Japanese Canadian families removed from No. 1 Town during World War Two. The families are gone. Their homes are gone. The trees flower every year, holding space and honouring the former residents who lived and […]

March 29: Close to my heart | Part One

Close to my heart  | Part One Historically, Cumberland was home to several different populations of primarily working-class people. The first settlers had rudimentary accommodations, but once the mill was operational, company housing was erected for white miners and their families – simple four or five-room cabins rented at a cheap rate and painted every […]

February 23: Coal goes better with coke

The mine workings in Cumberland (originally Union) are first developed in the 1860s and 1870s by the Union Colliery Company, but the original group of investors run out of capital and sell their rights to the Dunsmuir Family. In 1888 James Dunsmuir brings in, experienced coal miners and Chinese labourers to work the claim. A […]

January 20: A Taken of Gratitude

Dr Robert Lawrence, an allopathic* physician and farmer was hired by Union Collieries as the first senior Colliery physician at Union (now Cumberland) in 1892. Why he left his comfortable property in Simcoe South, Ontario at age 50 is still a mystery.  His chosen career would have provided him with a comfortable middle-class income.  Historically […]

December 17: The Circus Comes to Town

By Guest Contributor Kim Bannerman Here we are, December 2020. What a year it’s been! Elections, pandemics, wildfires, lockdowns — it’s been an absolute circus. So in the spirit of relief and gratitude that 2021 is just around the corner, let’s chat a little bit about a real circus that entertained and amused West Coast […]

November 11: We Shall Not Rest

The cenotaph in front of Branch No.23 of the Royal Canadian Legion in Cumberland bears brass plaques to commemorate the war dead from wars over the past 100+ years.  There are twenty-eight names inscribed on the WW1 plaques: all men from Cumberland. Most of the names are familiar with descendants or other family still in […]

October 29: With Fatal Results

What is it about ghost stories that are so appealing? Autumn is the time of year to believe that spirits move among us. It is October. Blood moon, hunter moon, Samhain – the beginning of the darker half of the year. Time to slaughter livestock and wage war, when the crops are in and hands […]

September 19: Strangers In A Strange Land

Imagine two journeys in the early 1900s: The first starts in a mining town in England where recruiters from Canadian Collieries (Dunsmuir) Ltd are trying to woo experienced miners to Canada. The recruiters show you Canadian Pacific Railway posters of beautiful mountain ranges, harvest photos with heaping baskets of glossy red apples and images of […]

August 18: Up the Lake

In 1880 Comox Lake is a beautiful wilderness lake teeming with fish: rainbow and cutthroat trout, char, dolly varden (aka mud sharks), kokanee. coast range sculpin and stickleback. Old-growth coastal Douglas Fir grow right down to the waterline. The lake sits at 138-metre elevation with a surface area of 2100 hectares and a perimeter of […]

July 16: Fire Fire Fire

Authored by Dawn Copeman Early history of Cumberland It starts with wood. And coal. The forest extends beyond history, beyond memory. Deer and other game paths leave a light trace on the landscape. For centuries, the occasional K’omoks hunters are the only humans to wander the trails around Cumberland, noticing the deposits of shiny black […]