The Comox Valley has a dynamic and exciting history ranging from 80 million year old marine reptiles and earth shaping glaciers to bustling turn of the century coal mines and pioneer farming and logging. Local museums explore all elements of local social and natural history and present information, new insights and hands-on learning experiences for kids of all ages.
Millions of years ago, much of Vancouver Island was a saltwater lagoon inhabited by large and often ferocious looking marine creatures. But as the climate changed, so did the geography. More than 10,000 years ago, the Comox Valley was buried under a sheet of ice a kilometer thick. As the sheets of ice moved across Vancouver Island it scoured valleys out of the land beneath it. When the climate warmed again most of the ice sheet melted, leaving the Island as we know it today. The Comox Glacier which looms over the Valley is lingering evidence of this dramatic time in our natural history.
Archaeological finds indicate that First Nation peoples have visited and lived in the Comox Valley for as long as 9,000 years. Before the appearance of the Europeans, the Valley was home to the Pentlatch and Comox bands of the Salishan First Nation. They thrived on the ocean's gifts of salmon, clams, oysters, cod and halibut as well as the land's abundant deer, elk and many edible and medicinal plants.
Throughout the late 19th century, many Royal Navy war ships anchored in the Comox Bay, prompting the construction of the Comox Wharf in 1893. The community officially became known as Comox.
In the late 1800's and the early 1900's coal was the mainstay of central Vancouver Island's economy. Built on rich coal seams, the inland settlement of Cumberland became a flourishing community that was segregated into separate town sites for the diverse nationalities working in the mines including a significant Chinese community. After World War I, the demand for coal lessened and Cumberland has subsequently become a community rich in mining heritage. Visit Cumberland to experience their diverse arts community and distinctive heritage homes of interest.
Nestled between the Beaufort Mountains and the Strait of Georgia on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, the Comox Valley is a collection of rolling mountains, delicate alpine meadows, rushing rivers, pristine lakes, lush forests, fertile farms, incredible beaches and more than 40 green parks. This unique geography plus a year round temperate climate, creates an exceptional location for an incredible range of year-round outdoor recreation activities.
In the Comox Valley it really is possible to enjoy the best of all seasons - you can be knee-deep in a winter wonderland, then within half an hour be dusting the snow off your boots on a lush green golf course, or paddling a kayak through sparkling blue waters.
The Comox Valley is also a thriving centre for arts and culture. Four major museums, live theatre, a dynamic music scene, an active artist community and year round cultural festivals and events are just a few of the many attractions the Comox Valley has to offer.
Gourmet cuisine, unique shopping experiences, galleries and eclectic coffee and tea shops line the streets of the Comox Valley's urban centres. Or head into the quiet farmland, hills and coastlines of the Comox Valley and experience the relaxed atmosphere of rural life.
Awarded the prestigious national distinction of Cultural Capital of Canada for 2007, the Comox Valley is recognized for its ongoing commitment to arts and culture. The Comox Valley is made up of the distinctive and colourful communities of Courtenay, Comox and Cumberland and the surrounding Comox Valley Regional District rural areas. These communities are all quickly traveled between and each has a special charm that lends itself to the overall magic that is the Comox Valley. With many shared public amenities including sports and recreation centres, theatres, galleries, playing fields, parks and schools, the Comox Valley is a welcoming and friendly place to live and visit.