The village takes its name from "Havre Boucher", a natural harbour that opens onto St. George's Bay to the north. The original community of Havre Boucher is situated to the west side of the harbour, although it now encompasses the communities of Auld's Cove, Cape Jack, East Havre Boucher, West Havre Boucher, Frankville and Linwood.
Havre Boucher is a rural area, largely dependent upon the fishing industry, as well as serving as a service centre for local communities.
The construction of the Canso Causeway, which opened in 1955, saw the Canadian National Railway mainline from Truro-Sydney diverted from Linwood north through Havre Boucher and Cape Jack, before following the Strait of Canso to the causeway. Before 1955, the railway ran from Linwood to Mulgrave where a ferry service operated to Point Tupper. Havre Boucher saw the construction of a large railway yard, which remains in operation today by the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway.
Havre Boucher is one of Nova Scotia's 22 incorporated villages, offering its residents political control through an elected governing body known as a "village commission" which operates under the auspices of the Nova Scotia Municipal Services Act.