shire town of Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, Canada

Amherst is a city of 9,400 people (2016) in Cumberland County, Nova Scotia. Amherst is the county seat and largest population centre in the Cumberland region.

Historic downtown Amherst


  • 1 Nova Scotia Welcome Centre, 90 Cumberland Loop (a few minutes' drive northwest of Amherst), +1 902 667-8429.



The Micmac name for the area was Nemcheboogwek, meaning 'going up rising ground', in reference to the higher land to the east of the Tantramar Marshes. The Acadians who settled here as early as 1672 called the village Les Planches. The village was renamed "Amherst" in honour of Lord Amherst, the commander-in-chief of the British Army in North America during the Seven Years' War."

The town was settled in 1764 by immigrants from Yorkshire following the expulsion of the Acadians. The original settlement was 3 km (1.9 mi) southwest of the present town on the shore of the Bay of Fundy. These settlers were joined by United Empire Loyalists who fled the American colonies during the American Revolution. A mill was built on the current townsite, and the residents moved there to be closer to work.

During the 19th century, Amherst became an important regional centre for shipbuilding and other services to outlying communities. An indication of the town's importance in Canadian history is seen with its four Fathers of Confederation: Edward B. Chandler, Robert B. Dickey, Jonathan McCully, and Sir Charles Tupper.

During the late 19th century, local industrialists and entrepreneurs constructed many fine Victorian and Edwardian homes along Victoria Street East, leading toward the farming hamlet of East Amherst.

Amherst experienced unprecedented industrialization in the late 1870s after the Intercolonial Railway of Canada constructed its main line from Halifax to Quebec through the town in 1872. The location of the railway line away from the Bay of Fundy coast further consolidated the town at its present location as industry and commercial activity centred around this important transportation link. The economic boom created by the arrival of the Intercolonial Railway lasted through World War I and numerous foundries, factories and mills opened.

In 1908, the manufacturing output of Amherst's industries was not exceeded by any centre in the Maritime Provinces. Many of the fine old buildings along Victoria Street are considered industrial artifacts because they were constructed during a period of tremendous industry growth. Local contractors employed local craftsmen, who used local materials. Notice the emphasis on sandstone and brick, both locally produced and delightful detail which reflects the skilled craftsmanship prevalent in the 19th century.

The town's industrial economy began a slow decline during the 1910s. A prisoner-of-war and enemy alien camp was set up at Malleable Iron Foundry in Amherst from April 1915 to September 1919, and Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky was incarcerated there for one month after he was arrested in Halifax in April 1917. Trotsky was transferred to the isolated Kapuskasing Internment Camp in northern Ontario until his release and expulsion after Soviet Russia signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, ending their involvement in the war.

The eventual closure of companies such as Robb Engineering & Manufacturing (purchased by Canada Car and Foundry and then closed) and Amherst Pianos, among others led to a resignation of lost dreams as the town was overtaken by other newer manufacturing centres in central Canada during the 20th century.

Get in

Map of Amherst (Nova Scotia)

By car


Amherst is just off the Highway 104 (Trans-Canada Highway), a few km south of the provincial border with New Brunswick. The city is accessed through the following highway exits: LaPlanche St (if coming from the west), Victoria St or Albion St. Highway 104 becomes Route 2 in New Brunswick.

You can also enter Amherst from the Highway 6 (Sunrise Trail) to the east, which links to Victoria Street.

By train

See also: Rail travel in Canada
  • 1 Amherst VIA Rail station, 27 Station Street, toll-free: +1 888 842-7245. Actual station is closed, but trains still stop here.    
    • VIA Rail Canada operates The Ocean route between Halifax and Montreal, including stops in Moncton and Sainte-Foy (near Quebec City). Travel time to Amherst from Montreal is 18.5 hours, from Sainte-Foy is 14.75 hours, from Moncton is 1 hour, and from Halifax is 3 hours. Operates three trips per direction per week. A shuttle between train stations in Sainte-Foy and in Quebec City is available for The Ocean trains, but must be reserved in advance.

By bus


Get around


The main streets in Amherst are Albion St, Church St and Victoria St. Church St intersects with Victoria St and Albion St, and both Victoria and Albion St intersect with Highway 104, so you can usually find your way around if you know these three streets. Albion St, where most of the restaurants and shops are, represents up-town. Church St and Victoria St (downtown) have most of the artisan shops, diners and history.

  • 1 Cumberland County Museum, 150 Church St, +1 902 667-2561, . M to F 9:00AM–4:30PM. Grove Cottage (c 1838) was the family home of Senator R.B. Dickey, one of the Fathers of Confederation. The museum presents the natural and human history of Cumberland County with emphasis on its industrial and social history from pre-colonial times to the early 20th century. An art gallery, an extensive archives, a collection of genealogy material, and research room.
  • 2 First Baptist Church, 90 Victoria Street East, +1 902 667-2001. circa 1898.
  • 3 Amherst Point Bird Sanctuary, Southampton Road (5 km southwest), toll-free: +1 800-565-0000. Waterfowl and many other marshbirds are very abundant in the sanctuary, and the majority of waterfowl species found in the Atlantic Provinces can be found within this site. A 2.5-km interpretive hike circles Laytons Lake. The species that nest within the Amherst Point Migratory Bird Sanctuary include: American black duck, northern pintail, green-winged teal, blue-winged teal, American wigeon, northern shoveler, ring-necked duck, and pied-billed grebe, and American bittern, and sora.
  • 1 Tidnish Suspension Bridge, Ketchum Trail, Tidnish (off of Route 366, 20 km away). Coming from Amherst, turn right just before the river bridge onto a dirt road that says "no exit". Look closely for the sign on the left side.    
  • 2 Cape Chignecto Provincial Park, 1108 West Advocate Road, Advocate Harbour, NS, +1 902 392-2085. Open from mid-May to mid-Oct. Small local park, featuring three small hikes/walks to enjoy the countryside. 180 m (590 ft) sea cliffs rise from the Bay of Fundy, which has the world's highest tides. 29 km (18 mi)) of pristine coastline, deep valleys, sheltered coves, rare plants, and remnant old-growth forests. 60 km (37 mi) of wilderness trails and remote walk-in campsites.    
  • 1 Dayles Grand Market, 129 Victoria St E, +1 902 664-7407, . Formerly "Dayles Department Store", now home to an assortment of boutiques.
  • 2 Farmers' Market, 9 Electric Street, +1 902 694-0428. May to Dec: F 9AM–1:30PM. Crafts, prepared food, produce, plants.
  • 3 Guy's Frenchy's (Amherst Location), 300 LaPlanche Street, +1 902 667-5556, . M-F 9AM-8PM, Sa 9AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. Piles of discount new and used clothing and other merchandise. Dig through to find brand name treasures.
  • The local Walmart is on Robert Angus and the John Black Rd (which are the same street).
  • 4 Amherst Centre Mall, 142 South Albon Stree (Trans-Canada Highway Exit 4). 26 stores including Coles, Northern Reflections, Marks Work Wearhouse, Eclipse, Charm Diamond Centres, and the Amherst Artisan Gallery.
  • 1 Duncan's Pub, 49 Victoria Street East, +1 902 660-3111. M-W 11AM-10PM, Th 11AM-midnight, F 11AM-1AM, Sa 11AM-11PM, Su noon-10PM. Pub food including burgers, salads and wraps, seafood, and some international dishes. Mains $15-24.
  • 2 Amherst Shore Country Inn, 5091 Highway 366 (25 min drive northeast of Amherst), +1 902-661-4800, toll-free: 1 800-661-2724, . Dinner served at 7:30PM daily. Regionally inspired cuisine. Dinners are 3-course prix fixe. Reservations are required. $65 per person prix fixe.
  • 3 Bambinos Pizzeria, 12 Prince Arthur Street, +1 902 667-7171. Pizza, burgers, subs, donairs, wraps. Eat in, take out or delivery.


  • 1 Trider’s Craft Beer, 46 Anson Avenue, Unit 3, +1 902 614 8983. Temporarily Closed as of March 2024. Stop in to sample their variety of beers, especially the Mean Joe Bean Coffee Blonde Ale, and to play with the brewery's bilingual dog, who responds to commands in English et en français.


  • 1 Comfort Inn, 143 Albion St S, +1 902 667-0404. Check-in: 3:00PM, check-out: 11:00AM. Free hot breakfast, pet-friendly hotel ($10/pet/stay). From $130.
  • 2 Super 8 Motel, 40 Ancestral Dr (Trans-Canada Hwy 104, Exit 4), +1 902-701-9853. Check-in: 3:00PM, check-out: 11:00AM. Free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, free parking, pet friendly, indoor pool. From $145.
  • 3 Brown's Guesthome, 158 Victoria St E, +1 902 667-9769, . Check-in: 4:00PM, check-out: 10:00AM. Includes breakfast buffet. Single Room $145; Double Room $155.



Go next

Routes through Amherst
MonctonSackville  W   E  TruroHalifax
MonctonTantramar ← becomes    W   E  SpringhillTruro
END   N   S  SpringhillTruro
END  W   E  PictouEND
END   N   S  Joggins via  ENDS at N   S

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