Courtenay & District Museum

  • An Honour to be Nominated
  • May is Asian Heritage Month
  • 50 Years of Door-To-Door
  • Photo of the Month
  • Sports and May Day
  • Gift Shop News
  • Stepping into Wilderness
  • It's All There in Black and White
  • In Memoriam
  • Your Membership and Donations Make A Difference
  • Cultural and Heritage Tourism
  • Museum Funding

  • Phone:



    Mailing Address:
    207 Fourth Street,
    Courtenay BC,
    V9N 1G7

    Tuesday – Saturday
    10:00 am to 4:00 pm

    John Wilson

    Vice President
    Daryl Wright

    Past President
    April Shopland

    Rick Ross
    Jim Haggart
    Ross Dingwall
    Mary Everson
    Julie Fortin
    Christine Dickinson

    Member of...

    British Columbia Museums Association

    Canadian Museums

    Archives Association of
    British Columbia

    British Columbia Historical Federation

    Comox Museum

    Cumberland Museum

    Comox Air Force Museum

    Filberg Heritage Lodge

    I-Hos Gallery

    HMCS ALBERNI Museum and Memorial

    Nim Nim Interpretive Centre

    Strathcona Wilderness Institute

    Project Watershed

    Sid Williams Theatre

    Comox Valley Art Gallery

    Comox Valley Arts

    We respectfully acknowledge that the museum provides services within the traditional territory of K'ómoks First Nation.

    We respect the diversity of cultures, stories and experiences that form the richness of our regional heritage.


    An Honour to be Nominated

    We are pleased and proud to announce that our book Step into Wilderness – A Pictorial History of Outdoor Exploration in and around the Comox Valley has been shortlisted for the British Columbia Historical Federation’s Lieutenant Governor’s Writing Competition. Awards will be revealed June 5.

    You can read more about it here.


    May is Asian Heritage Month

    Coke ovens at Union Bay, ca. 1905. CDM 979.3.31.

    Union Bay's Chinese Community

    For almost sixty years, a Chinese community thrived at the edge of Union Bay. Many of the men who lived there had originally come from Guangdong province to Canada to work on railway construction and later located to Union Bay to work for the Dunsmuir’s Union Coal Company.

    Some men were trimmers, who would climb into a ship's hold to spread the coal evenly as it fell through chutes from the coal cars. Others worked as rakers, pulling coke from the sulfurous, searing-hot coke ovens with heavy rakes. These jobs were tedious, grueling and dangerous.

    Over one hundred men lived in this community in the 1890s. By the 1950s, only a few remained. The last resident of Union Bay's Chinese neighbourhood moved to Cumberland in 1961. The site was cleared to become the present-day location of the Union Bay Community Hall.   

    Most physical traces of this community are now gone, but the enormity of industry achieved and sacrifices made by these men who sailed to Canada over one hundred years ago is not forgotten.   


    50 Years of Door-To-Door

    This spring, celebrate the 50th anniversary of a valuable service that many Comox Valley residents use every day without much thought or effort: door-to-door mail delivery.

    A survey held in January 1971 revealed that there were 2,475 residences in Courtenay and 1,076 residences in Comox, pushing the region over the required minimum of 2,000 homes and qualifying them for the service.

    Preparations began in February. Circulars were hand-delivered to inform households that they must display their house number clearly and install proper mailboxes or slots for receiving their mail.

    Continue Reading


    Photo of the Month

    CDM #990.24.189 Harrowing, c. 1905

    You can view more photos like this on our website. Click here to visit our holdings.


    Sports and May Day

    In the early years of Cumberland's Victoria Day holiday, sports played a huge part of the celebrations. Attendants were invited not just to watch, but also to be active participants, in a whole host of races, games, football matches and a tug-of-war, with prizes given to the victors.

    Continue Reading


    Gift Shop News

    There is a brand-new line of giftware in-store from artist Hannah Dale of Wrendale Designs in the UK.

    All the items have amazing artwork depicting a variety of animals and birds. Insulated water bottles come with a lovely gift box and the charming designs make them perfect for adults or children. In the same range we carry keychains, compact mirrors, shopping pads and cards.

    All items are extremely well made and reasonably priced from $5.00 to $30.00.


    Stepping into Wilderness

    Here now is an image from the museum's newest book Step into Wilderness – A Pictorial History of Outdoor Exploration in and around the Comox Valley.

    Photo credit: A baseball game in progress at the Willow Hotel in Campbell River. Photo: CDM Childs Collection. Page 138.

    Click for Larger Image


    It's All There in Black and White

    In remembrance of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who died April 9, 2021, a pictorial look back at the royal visit to the Valley from the May 12, 1971 edition of the Comox District Free Press.

    Read More

    With legacy support from the Bickle Family and the Comox Valley Echo.


    In Memoriam

    Chuck and Mary Slemin with their personal doll collection at their home in Courtenay. Photo from the Comox District Free Press Collection, March 4, 1981.

    The Courtenay and District Historical Society lost a past supporter with the death of Mary Slemin on March 30, 2021. Mary and her husband, Chuck, were integral to the development of the museum for over two decades.

    Continue Reading


    Your Membership and Donations Make A Difference

    Purchasing a membership to the Courtenay and District Museum, now in its 60th year, supports heritage preservation in the Comox Valley through special events, lectures, education programmes, research and exhibitions. Your membership benefits these award winning programmes on a year round basis and we appreciate it!

    Becoming a member provides you with discounts in the gift shop and on lectures and an opportunity to support one of the most active regional museums in British Columbia. Thank you for your support.

    Click Here to Join

    Click Here to Make a Donation


    Cultural and Heritage Tourism

    According to the World Trade Organization, tourism is shifting away from active holidays towards vacations that offer richer, more meaningful experiences, including tourist attractions that offer educational opportunities. Because of this, cultural and heritage tourism is a fast-growing market.

    "Cultural and heritage tourism" is tourism in which arts, culture and heritage form a key attraction for visitors. The focus of their activities are experiential events, such as local festivals, museums, food and wine tours, and art galleries. Sharing cultural stories and history with tourists and promoting historic places in the community can create a richer experience for both visitors and local residents.

    According to a 2009 study from Tourism British Columbia, nearly half (48%) of all Canadian respondents had visited a museum in the past year on at least one occasion. Visiting museums in other communities was also popular: 38% had visited a museum in another location during the past year and 62% encouraged visitors to explore these institutions. When asked why they visited museums, 70% said that they wished to be both entertained and educated.

    In 2010 in Canada, overnight travel spending brought in $3 billion. Statistically, cultural and heritage tourists spend more money per day and stay longer in the area where they have chosen to take their vacation. In this same study, 2.6 million Canadians identified themselves as heritage enthusiasts, with 55% of this group including Canada's historic places in their future travel plans.


    Museum Funding

    The Courtenay and District Historical Society was registered as a nonprofit society in 1961 to preserve and interpret cultural and natural heritage of the Comox Valley. It has functioned as an independent society since that time. Funds are derived from the generous support of the City of Courtenay, British Columbia Arts Council, Comox Valley Regional District, British Columbia Gaming Branch, and from museum generated revenues and donations.

    Proud sponsors of the Courtenay & District Museum:

    The City of Courtenay

    BC Arts Councils

    Regional District Comox-Strathcona

    British Columbia Gaming Commision