Move over, Canmore, Alberta. You’re being supplanted by Cumberland, B.C.
The “village” of 3,750 residents near the east coast of central Vancouver Island is being discovered. By mountain bikers, attracted to more than 80 kilometres of single track in the surrounding Cumberland forest. By people looking to boat and fish in the nearby Strait of Georgia or ski the deep snow at also nearby Mount Washington.
By folks looking to move to an attractive, small community, with affordable housing. Oops… used to be affordable. Prices for newer houses have jumped, in many cases, to more than $500,000; still cheap by Victoria or Vancouver prices.
Like the mountain community of Canmore, Cumberland’s economy used to be based on coal mining. When the mines closed, people in both places wondered about their future. Turns out tourism isn’t a bad replacement.
Cumberland isn’t nearly as crowded as Canmore, but locals note that it’s a lot busier than it used to be, especially on weekends when outsiders pour into town from Courtenay, Comox and further afield. As is the case in many such “service” communities, there aren’t a lot of good-paying jobs.
As a road-food warrior, I was stunned by the number and quality of good, independent, affordable places to eat and drink in downtown Cumberland. Within two blocks on main street (Dunsmuir Avenue) are at least half a dozen excellent places I’ve tried (or hope to get to on my next trip west). For cheap eats, that beats Canmore, in my books.
As a quick overview, here’s a pictorial guide to what’s cooking in Cumberland.