Dec 1, 2014 | Marmot, Winter 2014

Discovering Cumberland

Mount Washington Alpine Resort sits in the middle of several communities: Courtenay, Comox, Campbell River and some smaller burgs in between.

But it is Cumberland, nestled at the foot of the Beaufort Mountain Range a 20-minute drive from the Resort that has truly adopted Mount Washington as its own.

“The mountain crowd has certainly supported us,” says Vig Schulman, who with his partner Melissa owns the entertainment business Cumberland Village Works.

“We have a lot of people who live in Cumberland that work on the mountain.”

The Village has a lot to offer both employees and people who are looking for some variety during their ski holidays, says Kathryn West (Chung), owner and editor of Currently Cumberland, an online newsletter detailing the goings on in the village.

For families with children there are two parks with new playground equipment, several eateries and numerous events and outdoor activities too.

“Even when you get beautiful blue bird days you don’t want to be out skiing all the time,” she said.

“You can ski in the morning and mountain bike in the afternoon.

Mount Washington’s connection with outdoor adventure sports is like a match made in heaven.

“It’s a ski town,” she says. “Even if you show up on a Saturday and it snowed 15 or 20 centimetres the night before you’re liable to see a sign on doors saying ‘gone skiing’. And you can’t get upset because we’re a ski town.”

The famous Auchterlonie’s Bakery is still a draw, and the Waverly Hotel “is one of the best venues in the Comox Valley. They’re really forward thinking as a pub.”

Schulman and his partner book the live music at the Waverly and have worked hard over the last decade to make Cumberland a go-to venue for musicians. He sees a shift in the kind of people the village appeals to.

“It has been attracting a younger base for the last decade or so,” Schulman said.

The Waverley Hotel was named one of the Best Apres Ski bars by Ski Canada magazine in 2009. “Fab live music mecca,” the judges noted.

The hotel is also known for its good eats. The Bluegrass Brunches on Sundays are popular, offering delectable brunch with live music.

Right across the street from the Waverly is the Riding Fool Hostel, in a fully restored 1895 heritage building. The Riding Fool has been an integral cog in the development of Cumberland as ski central for lifties and other staffers at Mount Washington.

At the front of the same building, Dodge City Cycles does a brisk business of mountain bike sales and rentals.

This kind of symbiotic relationship is another way Cumberland has built its reputation, says Schulman. “We work with a lot of the other businesses in the community and with the village itself. I think that’s why Cumberland has that unique flavour for people who go to the mountain.”

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