A Short History Of Cumberland
Nestled in the central heart of Vancouver Island, Canada. Sits the small town of Cumberland. Home to the Cumberland Forest and Comox Lake. The town is renowned for its mining history, as well as its large Chinese and Japanese influences, At one point Cumberland was even known as the second largest Chinatown on the West Coast, of North America. Previously named Union, British Columbia, after the Union Coal Company. The town was renamed in 1891 after James Dunsmuir. Today the main town strip is known as Dunsmuir Ave
Many Locals informed me during my stay, that there was a period of time when Cumberland, had the potential to turn into a ghost town. Especially after an earthquake in 1946. However today, with the ever present work of the local community. Cumberland has become a walking time capsule. Full of history, small museums and boutique retailers. But there’s one characteristic to this reformed town, that tops them all. Mountain biking.
The Cumberland Forest is home to hundreds of biking trails. these trails roam through thick forest, old heritage sites, wetlands and lakes. However I must inform you now this is not a mountain biking story. In fact it’s not even close, I had much different plans with these habitats. My thoughts centered around, the abundance of wildlife there must have been. According to one local I met while Disc Golfing, I wasn’t wrong.
The Cumberland Forest
I had found local accommodation for a few days at the well known Riding Fool Hostel. I had been recommended this place many times, so thought I’d check it out. Being only a fifteen walk to the Cumberland Forest make it an even more suitable spot. After arriving, I found a map researched it heavily, got my bearings and… went the wrong way for thirty minutes before turning around, and eventually finding the Chinese, mining heritage site. This is a record of some of my wildlife photography captures, but in no means did I capture anywhere near the amount of wildlife that roam the Cumberland Forest.
My first find was this Song Sparrow, although common, these little song birds have such a distinctive sound and almost give the habitat a little bit of personality.
If they weren’t singing they had a mouth full of insects.
I also came across my very first American Warbler.
After scoping around the heritage trail for a few hours I came across a wetland. I had been tracking a Belted Kingfisher for a significant time. However, as had been my relationship with those little birds, to no avail. Check out my Courtenay Estuary birding article for King Fishers. In the mean time here’s a very photogenic duck.
I continued down a long gravel track for a long time before coming across a glint of purple in nearby tree. It was a Purple Finch
I also found what I believed to be a Dark Eye Junco
Coming out of the Cumberland Forest, I found a spacious area, close to Dunsmuir Ave, There on a bench was a perched Orange Breasted Robin
In truth I didn’t manage to photograph, much wildlife around Comox Lake. I believe this was due to several reasons, however the main one being the large amount traffic on the trail. When I say traffic, I mean, motocross bikes, mountain bikers, hikers, and hikers with dogs.
Photographing under forest cover is hard at the best of times, its difficult to find good backgrounds and natural light is not always your friend. So if we add in the extra external issues, it becomes even more difficult. However one thing I always say to myself is, it’s not my forest, they’re just enjoying themselves and of course I am in mountain bike central this should be expected. The one thing that was assured however, was the chances of seeing black bear to essentially gone.
So instead, I found a small mosquito riddled trail which led to the lake, in all honesty I wasn’t out there to photograph, but I did come across this small chick.
As always, thank you for visiting. My website is updated weekly with new photos, stories and adventures. If you want to see more, please follow me on social media, my links can be found under the “Social” heading below this post.
Click on the Great Blue Heron to view my Vancouver Island Gallery.