Figure 1 Publishing

Forthcoming / General Non-Fiction

A Place Called Cumberland

Cumberland Museum & Archives
Edited by Rhonda Bailey

From railway disasters and robberies to mycology and mountain biking, twelve authors tell true stories of Cumberland, BC, that highlight the diverse and eclectic history of the vibrant village.


Book Description

Established as a coal mining camp in the late nineteenth century and now reborn as a centre of arts, culture, and outdoor recreation in Vancouver Island’s Comox Valley, Cumberland has long fostered a strong sense of community that has attracted residents from all over the world. In this collection of riveting historical accounts, touching personal memoirs, and engaging creative non-fiction essays—complemented by more than two dozen historical and contemporary photos—writers with ties to Cumberland and the Comox Valley reveal lesser-known aspects of the region’s colourful past.

We hear about Joe Naylor, the unsung mentor to celebrated labour activist Ginger Goodwin, and the immigrants from countries like China and Italy who crossed oceans to work in the mines and build a new life. The story of the Ogaki family, active in the logging industry until their forced relocation to internment camps during World War II, demystifies the origins of the Japanese-Canadian comfort dish Cumberland Chow Mein. The aftermath of a collapsed rail trestle and the criminal exploits of “The Flying Dutchman” speak to the prejudices and priorities of the early twentieth century. Biographies of Diana Bruce, the first hotelier in Cumberland, and Dr. Irene Mounce, a pioneering mycologist raised in the village, illustrate the challenges faced—and overcome—by women of the era. Closer to the present, we hear of the grassroots trailbuilding work that put Cumberland on the mountain biking map, and how efforts at building affordable housing in the community led to the carving and installation of two welcome poles by local First Nations carvers, to help make more visible the long history and continued presence of the K’ómoks people in the area.


About the Cumberland Museum & Archives: When the last coal mine closed in 1966, visionaries of the day decided the history of Cumberland was worth preserving. Local businessman E. W. Bickle had donated the old Comox Free Press building at 2757 Dunsmuir Avenue to the Chamber of Commerce and by 1969 it housed the first Cumberland Museum: displays of old mining equipment, farming and household implements, items from the hospital, a few models, and a lot of photographs, staffed by retired miners and village volunteers. By 1981 the museum had outgrown the space. With village support, government grants, and fundraising efforts by the newly formed Cumberland & District Historical Society, the museum was relocated to a new building at 2680 Dunsmuir Avenue, where it is still housed today. Exhibits and programs continue to tell the stories of the people of Cumberland–the rich, the poor, the powerful, the rebellious, the righteous, and the radical.

Rhonda Bailey has had a career as an editor, publisher, and teacher of publishing. She has worked as an editor for publishers across the country, served on the boards of national publishing associations, and holds a Master of Publishing degree from Simon Fraser University. Retired from the Creative Writing Department of Vancouver Island University, she is currently a VIU honorary research associate. Although deeply rooted in Nanaimo, Bailey feels connected to Cumberland through her family heritage: her maternal grandmother emigrated from Maryport in Cumberland, England, to Canada after the First World War, and two of her great-uncles worked in Vancouver Island coal mines. She was pleased to team up with the writers and the Cumberland Museum & Archives to develop this book.


  • Traci Skuce
  • Lynne Bowen
  • Kim Bannerman
  • Rod Mickleburgh
  • Dave Flawse
  • Bevin Clempson
  • Dr. Tom L. Q. Wong
  • Dawn Copeman
  • Russell Sakauye
  • Matthew Rader
  • Andrew Findlay
  • Grant Shilling


  • Paperback
  • 6.5 × 9 inches
  • 184 pages
  • 978-1-77327-251-1
  • $25.00 CDN / $20.00 USD
  • November 2024