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Cumberland History

A Short History of Cumberland:


The community of Cumberland owes its existence to coal mining. Coal deposits were discovered in the area in 1864 and in the 1880's, with Robert Dunsmuir's infusion of large capital, the development preceded on a large scale. In the late 1880's Dunsmuir plotted the town site and immigration into the area began, with Cumberland growing into a city, comparable in size to Victoria at the time. In 1897 Cumberland, named after the English county, was incorporated as Canada's most western city.  At the turn of the century Cumberland had one of the largest Chinese communities outside of San Francisco.  Miners from many countries sought work in Cumberland and the ethnic mix brought a cultural richness to the community. Cumberland was a "company town" and developed a strong community spirit best shown through its support of athletic teams that played for national and provincial titles.  A series of events that occurred in the 1930's and early 1940's led to an economic decline in Cumberland after 1945. The new use of oil from Alberta hurt the coal industry, the exodus from Cumberland's Chinatown during the depression, a great fire which destroyed three city blocks and the internment of the Japanese community all had major impacts.