Area Profile


Amherst is the largest town in Cumberland County, Nova Scotia with a population of 9,500 and growing. Located approximately two hundred kilometers northwest of the province capital Halifax, and three kilometers from Nova Scotia / New Brunswick Border, Amherst is positioned in the geographic center of the Maritime Provinces. The town demonstrates a degree of significance to the local transportation industry particularly with imports/exports going through the New Brunswick/Nova Scotia border. Amherst is actively and aggressively working to attract new businesses and offers companies a fully serviced industrial park, a bountiful water resource and a trained labor force.

The Municipality of the County of Cumberland

From spectacular and rugged hiking trails along the Bay of Fundy, with its famous high tides, to the warm and inviting sandy beaches of the Northumberland Shore; from historical buildings, museums and cultural attractions to modern state-of the-art manufacturing facilities; from shopping to unlimited outdoor recreation, the Municipality of the County of Cumberland is the perfect place to live, work and play. Enjoy a relaxing lifestyle in a safe and friendly environment, combined with modern transportation and communications links to the rest of the world. With a fully digital telecommunications network, high speed Internet access available in a growing number of communities, excellent rail, road, air and sea links, Cumberland County offers easy access to markets across North America and around the world. The County also boasts modern, state-of-the-art health care and educational facilities, a vibrant and growing retail sector, a diverse agriculture industry, outstanding golf courses, and excellent facilities.

History of Amherst

The original Town of Amherst was established in 1764, two miles west of its present location following the Expulsion of the Acadians. New England settlers were invited to settle many communities along the shores of the Bay of Fundy. One of these settlements grew to become The Town of Amherst. A grist mill and tannery were built over a mile to the east of the settlement. The community gradually moved closer to them so that by 1850 Amherst was located where you find it today.

By 1880 the railway had been built and it was the political will to promote Canadian industry. This policy guaranteed a market for products and assisted in the growth of the town. Due to the importance of the railroad, Amherst’s first industries were built near the station and some of the buildings are still in use today. Some well-known manufacturers were: Amherst Boot and Shoe Company, Christies Trunk and Baggage Company, Hewson Woolen Mills, Rhodes Curry Company, and the Amherst Piano Company.

In 1908 the manufacturing output of Amherst’s industries was not exceeded by any center in the Maritime Provinces, and the term “Busy Amherst” was well deserved. 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


History of Cumberland County

The name Cumberland was applied by Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Monckton to the captured Fort Beauséjour on June 18, 1755 in honour of the third son of King George II, William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, victor at Culloden in 1746 and Commander in Chief of the British forces. The Mi’kmaq name for the area was “Kwesomalegek” meaning “hardwood point”.

Cumberland County was founded on August 17, 1759. When the Township of Parrsboro was divided in 1840, one part was annexed to Cumberland County and the other part annexed to Colchester.

The dividing line between Cumberland and Colchester was established in 1840. In 1897, a portion of the boundary line between the Counties of Colchester and Cumberland was fixed and defined. The county thrived in the 19th century with the development of lumbering, shipbuilding and coal mining. Deforestation and rural out-migration in the 20th century led to the abandonment of some communities such as Eatonville and New Yarmouth.


The county has a total area of 4,271.23 km2 (1,649.13 sq mi).

Cumberland County is rich in natural resources with extensive forest land supporting lumber mills and pulp contractors. It has many mineral resources, including 2 operating salt mines. Until the 1970s it also had several coal mines which extracted coal from seams that run from Joggins to River Hebert and on to Athol and Springhill.

Agriculture is concentrated on wild blueberry harvesting throughout the Cobequid Hills, as well as mixed farms located in the Tantramar Marshes region, the Northumberland Strait coastal plain, and the Wentworth Valley.

The northwestern edge of Cumberland County forms part of the Isthmus of Chignecto, the natural land bridge connecting the Nova Scotia peninsula to North America. As such, the county hosts several important transportation corridors, including Highway 104 (the Trans-Canada Highway and CN Rail’s Halifax-Montreal railway line.

Four towns are located in Cumberland County: Amherst, Springhill, Parrsboro, and Oxford.


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