Amherst, Nova Scotia

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Downtown Amherst, Nova Scotia in the morning.View on Google Street View
Downtown Amherst, Nova Scotia in the morning.
View on Google Street View
Flag of Amherst
Coat of arms of Amherst
Coat of arms
Amherst is located in Nova Scotia
Location of Amherst, Nova Scotia
Coordinates: 45°49′N 64°13′W / 45.817°N 64.217°W / 45.817; -64.217Coordinates: 45°49′N 64°13′W / 45.817°N 64.217°W / 45.817; -64.217
Country  Canada
Province  Nova Scotia
County Cumberland
Founded 1764
Incorporated December 18, 1889
 • Mayor Rob Small
 • Deputy Mayor George Baker
 • Councillors
 • MLA Terry Farrell Liberal
 • MP Scott Armstrong Conservative
 • Land 12.02 km2 (4.64 sq mi)
Elevation 22.11 m (72.54 ft)
Population (2011)[1][2]
 • Town 9,717
 • Density 790.7/km2 (2,048/sq mi)
 • Urban 9,547
 • Change 2006-11 Increase2.2%
 • Census Ranking 401 of 5,008
Demonym Amherstonian
Time zone AST (UTC−4)
 • Summer (DST) ADT (UTC−3)
Postal code(s) B4H
Area code(s)
Access Routes
Hwy 104 (TCH)

Trunk 2
Trunk 6
Route 204
Dwellings 4,410
Median Income* $36,539 CDN
NTS Map 021H16
  • Median household income, 2005 (all households)

Amherst (2011 population 9,717; UA population 9,547[1]) is a Canadian town in northwestern Cumberland County, Nova Scotia.

Located at the northeast end of the Cumberland Basin, an arm of the Bay of Fundy, Amherst is strategically situated on the eastern boundary of the Tantramar Marshes 3 kilometres east of the interprovincial border with New Brunswick and 65 kilometres east of the city of Moncton. It is also located 60 kilometres southwest of the New Brunswick abutment of the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island at Cape Jourimain.

Amherst is the shire town and largest population centre in Cumberland County. According to Dr. Graham P. Hennessey, "The Micmac name 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. It was named Amherst by Colonel Joseph Morse, the first settler, in honour of Lord Amherst, the commander-in-chief of the British Army in North America during the Seven Years' War.


First Baptist Church is one of many outstanding stone structures on Amherst's main street.

The town was first settled in 1764 by immigrants from Yorkshire following the expulsion of the Acadians, with the original settlement being located three kilometres southwest of the present town on the shore of the Bay of Fundy.[citation needed] These settlers were joined by United Empire Loyalists (Loyalists who fled the American colonies during the American Revolution). A mill was built on the current townsite, and the residents moved 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. Many notable residents have lived in this district, including Tupper, Senator Thomas R. Black, the Barker Family, the Lamy Family, the Pugsley Family and Mary (Molly) Simmons Critchley. Amherst gained brief notoriety in the late 19th century as the location of alleged poltergeist phenomena afflicting Amherst resident Esther Cox in 1878 and 1879, which became known as the Great Amherst Mystery after the publication of a popular book on the affair.[3]

Amherst experienced unprecedented industrialization in the late 1870s after the Intercolonial Railway of Canada constructed its mainline 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, giving rise to the nickname "Busy Amherst".

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.

Downtown mural- building and mural were demolished in March 2011.

Amherst's prosperity would not last as the failed economic policies of the federal and provincial governments, coupled with World War I, saw the town's industrial economy begin a slow decline during the 1910s. A Prisoner-of-war camp was set up at Malleable Iron Foundry in Amherst, Nova Scotia from April 1915 to September 1919. [4] During the Amherst General Strike in 1919, worker unrest over social and economic conditions led to mass protests in sympathy with the Winnipeg General Strike.

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. Amherst had a modest-sized industrial park constructed during the 1960s when the Trans-Canada Highway was being developed. Today the majority of the town's major employers are located there, including PolyCello and IMP Aerospace.

Amherst hosted a prisoner of war detention centre during World War I, and Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky was incarcerated there for one month after he was arrested in Halifax, Nova Scotia in April 1917. [7][8]

During World War II, the Royal Canadian Navy named a Flower class corvette HMCS Amherst.

The town is served by Via Rail's Halifax-to-Montreal train Ocean.


Amherst is the retail centre for Cumberland County and the southeastern part of Westmorland County. The town has several big box stores, including Walmart, Sobeys, Atlantic Superstore, Canadian Tire, Kent Building Supplies, and Shoppers Drug Mart, in addition to several fast food restaurants and auto dealerships. Zellers was a long time anchor store in the area until the purchase of the majority of the chain by Target which promptly announced the closure of many Zellers locations in smaller centers such as Amherst. There are also smaller independent retailers and restaurants in the downtown area, situated among various historic buildings. The town's location on Highway 104 (part of the Trans-Canada Highway) has transformed South Albion Street and Robert Angus Drive into a highway service centre.


Climate data for Amherst
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) −2
Average low °C (°F) −12
Precipitation mm (inches) 94
Source: Weatherbase [5]


Historical populations
Year Pop. ±%
1871 2,000 —    
1881 2,274 +13.7%
1891 3,781 +66.3%
1901 4,964 +31.3%
1911 8,973 +80.8%
1921 9,998 +11.4%
1931 7,450 −25.5%
1941 8,620 +15.7%
1951 9,870 +14.5%
1956 10,301 +4.4%
1961 10,788 +4.7%
1971 9,966 −7.6%
1981 9,684 −2.8%
1986 9,671 −0.1%
1991 9,742 +0.7%
1996 9,669 −0.7%
2001 9,470 −2.1%
2006 9,505 +0.4%
2011 9,717 +2.2%
Canada 2006 Census Population  % of Total Population
Ethnic Origin
Source: [14]
Canadian 4,215 45.4
English 3,625 39.1
Scottish 2,745 29.6
Irish 2,040 22.0
French 1,840 19.8
German 655 7.1
Dutch (Netherlands) 385 4.1

Notable citizens[edit]

Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky was once incarcerated in Amherst for one month during the end of the First World War.
Sir Charles Tupper, the 6th Prime Minister of Canada, was born in Amherst



Amherst is served locally by EastLink TV. The station also serves the communities of Springhill, Oxford, and others in the county, as well as Sackville, New Brunswick.



Youth sports[edit]

Every August, Amherst hosts an eight-team little league baseball tournament, featuring four teams from New England.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c 2006 Statistics Canada Community Profile: Amherst, Nova Scotia
  2. ^ Statistics Canada Population and dwelling counts, for Canada and census subdivisions (municipalities), 2006 and 2001 censuses - 100% data
  3. ^ Hubbell, Walter (1882). The Haunted House: A True Ghost Story. New York: Brentano. 
  4. ^ "Internment Camps in Canada during the First and Second World Wars, Library and Archives Canada". 
  5. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Amherst, Nova Scotia". Weatherbase. 2011.  Retrieved on November 24, 2011.
  6. ^ 104.pdf, Canada Year Book 1932
  7. ^ 140.pdf, Canada Year Book 1955
  8. ^ 126.pdf, Canada Year Book 1957-58
  9. ^ [1], Canada Year Book 1967
  10. ^ [2], E-STAT Table
  11. ^ [3], 1996 Census of Canada: Electronic Area Profiles
  12. ^ [4], Community Profiles from the 2006 Census, Statistics Canada
  13. ^ [5], Census Profile - Census Subdivision
  14. ^ [6], Ethnocultural Portrait from the 2006 Census, Statistics Canada

External links[edit]