We’ve been to Yarmouth Nova Scotia several times to catch a ferry to the United States. Apparently we are not alone. Yarmouth’s prosperity seems to rely on ferry service. When ferry service is cut, the city falls into hard times. When ferry service is restored, it fares better.
Previously getting to Yarmouth was not an issue as we could rent a car in Halifax and return it in Yarmouth. But Covid, the lack of tourism, and rental car shortages changed this for our 2023 trip. No buses, no planes, no one-way car rentals. After exhausted research and many phone calls, we finally found a shuttle service to do the job. Hopefully this will get easier. But we finally made it.
Yarmouth, like much of southern Nova Scotia, was initially founded by French settlers (in 1651). After years of on-and-off fighting, the British took it over in 1755 and expelled the original settlers. New Englanders moved in, taking over the land which they retained even after some of the Acadians were allowed to return.
Yarmouth emerged as an important port and shipbuilding center in the 19th and early 20th centuries before falling into decline. The history of the town is told at the Yarmouth County Museum and Archives and at the Penton-Fuller House, which was the summer home of Alfred Fuller—founder of the Fuller Brush Company.
As this was basically a brief stop with a purpose of catching a ferry, we didn’t have a lot of time to explore the town. But we were able to glimpse some of the town’s restored historic buildings and a pretty small commercial street.
On our 2023 trip we only had one meal and it was at Rudders Seafood Restaurant and Brewery, which is the same place we ate at on a previous trip. We began with a Caesar salad before going on to learn about deep-fried bar clams—a form of Ipswich clam that lives on sand bars and is supposed to be sweeter than the Ipswich. Since we didn’t do a side-by-side comparison, it was difficult to judge if they were indeed sweeter. They were, however, sweet and tasty, although we would have preferred a bit less breading. We finished with a seafood casserole with lobster, shrimp, scallops, mushrooms, and spinach in a white wine cream sauce. While it was good, it was not especially memorable. The limited wine list offered significantly more options than those of the Annapolis Valley and Cape Breton restaurants. In absence of an interesting white wine, we selected a serviceable, if basic Lindeman’s Bin 99 Pinot Noir.
We have stayed at Yarmouth’s Best Western, which is an adequate hotel. But the place we prefer is the lovely historic MacKinnon-Cann Inn.
Each room has a theme. Ours was from I Love Lucy, complete with comfortable twin beds and 1950s furnishings. Our bathroom was large and had great lighting. Good wifi. Air conditioning not needed (the only minor issue was that our window fan had a squeak). The effort in restoring this building shows. It is a mere 5 blocks away from the ferry terminal, making it easy to hop on the ferry the next morning. Breakfast was basically whatever we wanted as they have a full kitchen onsite. We ordered eggs, toast, fresh fruit and yogurt–all very tasty.