History

A proud past … and a promising future!

With a history of human habitation dating back some 4,000 years, the Comox Valley that we know (and love) today is vastly changed from times gone by! Spend your days cruising through museums filled with aboriginal, paleontological, natural history and Canadian Air Force artifacts, and then enjoy your nights with a host of modern-day arts, entertainment and cultural activities. For visitors and residents alike, the Comox Valley has much to explore!

Learn more about our history at: www.discovercomoxvalley.com

Comox Valley Regional District

www.comoxvalleyrd.ca

The Comox Valley Regional District was established in February 2008, following the restructuring of the Comox Strathcona Regional District into two areas: the Comox Valley Regional District and the Strathcona Regional District. The Comox Valley Regional District covers approximately 1,725-square kilometres from Oyster River to Fanny Bay and includes the municipalities of Courtenay, Comox and Cumberland; as well as Denman and Hornby Islands, Mount Washington and a number of charming rural and coastal communities.

Town of Comox

www.comox.ca

Prior to the arrival of early European settlers, the eastern shore of Vancouver Island had been home to the K’ómoks people for thousands of years. Considering that knowledge in First Nations communities is passed down from generation to generation through songs, dances and stories, an absence of written records make it difficult to pinpoint exactly when they arrived here.

We do know that the first Europeans came in search of gold in the mid 1850s and the first ‘official’ settlers arrived in 1862. (Of these, only two were women!) The name ‘Comox’ is derived from a term in the Coast Salish (Kwakw’ala) language that translated into “plentiful” or “rich.” Recognizing that this was, indeed, a “land of plenty,” European settlers later adapted the name to Comox.

The first Comox wharf was constructed in 1874, which soon resulted in the opening of a number of commercial enterprises and inns. Soon after, a Navel Training Base was established, marking the start of Comox as a proud military town.

The Town of Comox was incorporated in 1946. Today, Comox covers approximately 14-square-kilometres (5.48 square miles) and has a population of 12,000. The most seaside-like community of all of the jurisdictions within the Valley, Comox has many marinas and ocean-related businesses and attractions. The Town of Comox is home to the Canadian Armed Forces Base (CFB) Comox 19 Wing, St. Joseph’s Hospital and the BC Ferries Little River Terminal, which serves the mainland coastal city of Powell River.

City of Courtenay

www.courtenay.ca

City of CourtenayEarly pioneers arrived to the area we now call ‘Courtenay’ after the gold rush in the 1860s. In an effort to take some of the strain off of the City of Victoria, the governor at the time offered land for $1 an acre and a free boat ride ‘up island’ to anyone who would take it! Early pioneers arrived to discover a valley with abundant resources that was ripe for agricultural development. The City of Courtenay, incorporated in 1915, was named after Rear Admiral George William Courtenay who sailed the HM Constance along the coast of Vancouver Island over 150 years ago.

Courtenay’s early economy depended largely on logging and farming. (Courtenay’s farmers sold produce to the employees of Cumberland’s coal mines.) After World War I, Courtenay enjoyed a measure of prosperity. Immigration and a post-war baby boom resulted in significant population growth .. and the resulting increased demand for new homes, schools and businesses. Courtenay continues to be a growing concern! In 1996, this little city on the Island gained the distinction of being ‘the fastest growing city in all of Canada!’

Courtenay now serves as the regional center for business, recreation and tourism for the entire Comox Valley. Both Courtenay and Comox have intertwined economies with residents using services from each area, regardless of their home location. The city covers approximately 27-square-kilometres and has a population of 22,000.

Village of Cumberland

www.cumberlandbc.net

Town of CumberlandThe 1852 discovery of coal near Comox Lake resulted in entrepreneurial-spirited miners and ‘get rich quick’ hopefuls flocking to the area. In the span of just a few years, a village was established, linked by railway to the Comox wharf, and by 1862, more than 350 men – many of them Japanese and Chinese immigrants – were working in three mines producing tens of thousands of tonnes of coal each year.

The Village of Cumberland, formed in 1898, owed its very existence to ‘black gold.’

Cumberland remained an economic powerhouse for decades. The end of World War II, however, marked the end of an era for the Village. By the 1960s, coal mining in Cumberland no longer provided any opportunities for employment. The resulting population decline was tough on the local economy and families left the area in record numbers.

Today, Cumberland’s historic charm and affordable housing have resulted in revitalization. The village is regaining its title as one of Vancouver Island’s ‘communities with a future.’ Cumberland is known for its small-town charm and as a great place for families. The current population is about 3,000.

Cumberland boasts a variety of shops and services, a museum, antiques and collectibles, live entertainment venues and a variety of restaurants. Situated against the Beaufort Mountains, it is an excellent location to access the numerous parks and trails located just to the west.

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