Cumberland Perspective – Acrylic on Canvas


30″x40″ Acrylic on canvas.

Dimensions 30 × 40 in

1 in stock



The Inspiration

The humble coalminer’s cottages in Cumberland were built in stark contrast to the palatial castle built in Victoria by the coal mine owner, -Robert Dunsmuir. Today, fabulously wealthy people may choose to live in quietly understated homes. But in 19th Century Victoria, the more money you had, the bigger you built your home!

Dunsmuir’ s mansion stood out ‘like a sore thumb’ on a hilltop.

In Cumberland, the little homes were largely identical, hugging the hillsides down rambling little roads, with very little to distinguish one from another. Individuality was usually only evident in the variety of little gardens or window boxes lovingly tended by miner’s wives. Only a few struggling plants could make all the difference in a row house—made the tiny shacks feel like home.

In this painting I use the sunflowers as the symbol for the families: the wizened old grandmother stooped and grey, the strong mothers trying to keep the family together, the boisterous teenagers reaching for the sun.

When the Village celebrated its Centennial, they issued a medal to anyone who lived Cumberland for more than 80 years. The recipients were mostly the Grandmothers who had kept the town intact. They strutted their medals proudly!

There are romantic images of life in the previous century in B.C. but the more you read, you discover the brutal reality. Over the years, 650 coal miners lost their lives in the mining disasters on Vancouver Island. In those days there was no social safety net for the families left behind, so a sense of community solidarity was crucial.

The little rows of identical houses in Cumberland held great comfort in sudden sorrow.