Montreal as a city
Montreal’s province, Quebec, is culturally distinct from the rest of Canada because its sole official language is French. In fact, Montreal is the second largest French speaking city in the world, after Paris. Some areas of Montreal, like Hampstead, Notre Dame de Grace and Westmount are predominantly English, but others like Rosemont, are very French. You will find fewer English signs, newspapers in corner stores, and neighbours with whom you can converse. Closer to downtown, Plateau or Mount Royal, most of the residents are English, or at least highly bilingual, and can converse comfortably in either language.
McGill is an English-speaking university. All classes (other than language courses) will be taught in English. However, it is important to know French, mainly if you want to study/work anywhere outside McGill.
Where can I learn French?
There are a lot of places, including McGill and other universities (Concordia, UQAM). Also, the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion provides several courses for free where you can learn it. Check its webpage for more information:
Public transit STM
Montreal’s metro and bus systems are operated by The Société de Transport de Montréal (STM). Check its website, where you can find maps and all the bus and metro routes.
Montreal’s metro system has 4 color-coded (Blue, orange, yellow and green) lines that run from around 5:30 am to between 12:30-1:30 am depending on the day of the week and the stop/direction.
Montreal’s bus system has four main types of routes.
- #10-250 – Local & 10-Minutes Max Networks The Local buses are the average buses that run on a given few streets. A green stopwatch denotes the 10-Minutes Max buses. They are the busiest buses on the local network and run at a frequency maximum of 10 minutes.
- #300s – All Night Network A grey crescent moon denotes the All Night buses and they run after the local buses stop.
- #400s – Express Network Three pink “motion lines” denote the Express buses and they are limited-stop routes.
- #700s – Shuttles A purple greater-than sign denotes the Shuttle buses and they serve special routes. The 747 Shuttle goes to the Airport. The trip is included with a one day pass or any longer fare.
- Fares can be paid upon entering a bus in COINS or CANADIAN CREDIT CARD ONLY.
- Fares can be paid in metro stops with credit, debit, or cash at the fare vending machine, or in CASH ONLY at the ticket booth.
- If you are 17 or younger and have an OPUS card you get reduced fares on more than just the Monthly CAM.
- You cannot buy a monthly pass for a given month before the first of that month. This means you should account for lines the first day of each month.
An OPUS card is rechargeable fare card for the entire STM system. In order to get student discounts you need a registered photo ID OPUS card.
This is probably my favourite place in Montreal, and very few McGill students know about it. If you are looking for a more outdoorsy plan, this is your best choice. You can do anything you want, from tanning, to biking (there is a bike lane throughout the whole canal and you can go all the way to Old Port), to kayaking, this can all be done here. Additionally, the Atwater Market (another must-see) is located just a few meters away, so you can enjoy fresh fruits or any other delicious food choice you pick at the market, and eat it next to the relaxing canal while you’re surrounded by your loved ones. This place is ideal for picnics, especially if you just want to take a little break from the craziness of the city, this is the best place to go, and it is only a few metro stations away (Metro Lionel-Groulx).
Rue Ste. Catherine is a street in Downtown Montreal (2-3 blocks from campus) where there are restaurants/bars, SAQ (liquor store), a mixture of boutique and high end shops as well as many malls that connect to each other (which is especially nice during the winter months when you don’t have to leave a building to enter another one). Ste. Catherine is also a great place to sit around in the public gardened areas, or to visit the beautiful “Saint Church Cathedral” which was built in the 19th century.
Mont Royal is definitely a must-go when in Downtown Montreal. Not only is Mont Royal an escape from the busy city life but it also has one of the best views of the city, as it includes the highest spot in the city (234m). The lookout facing over downtown towards the river was first built in 1906 and is now officially known as the Belvédère Kondiaronk. Some say Mount Royal is where “Montrealers go to get a breath of air on a hot day, to cross-country ski without leaving the city, to walk off a hangover or a bad mood, to picnic, to jog, to ice skate, to look out over the city, rest their eyes on the horizon and dream.” Walking, running or hiking up this mountain is a great activity to do with friends to destress during midterms, finals, and whatever may be stressing you out! And it’s extremely convenient placement is on your favor, as it’s only a few minutes walk from campus.
Old Port is simply my favourite place in Montreal. This place made me decide to move to Montreal in the first place. This magical place is filled with restaurants, cafes, food trucks, boats and so much fun. There are gorgeous hour long cruises you can take along its waters and I recommend Le Bateau-Mouche boat tours which are very cheap and beautiful. Old Port always have incredible events such as the Igloo Fest music festival in the winter, Cirque du Soleil in the Summer, and food festival such as the Poutine Fest. My favourite restaurant in Old Port is called Jardin Nelson. You have to go here in the summer as it closes during the winter. It has incredible food and Sangrias accompanied with jazz music. In the winter you can skate in Old Port. Visit Old Port for a magical day in a place that makes you feel like you are in Europe!
Notre Dame is one of the most beautiful basilicas I have ever been in. It has a very pretty European feel to it. It is located in Montreal’s historic district, Old Montreal. The Church is located at 110 Notre-Dame Street West. It is a Roman Catholic church which offers a cheap entrance for visitors and beautiful masses. It is of Gothic style and is visited by millions of tourists every year. This is my favourite church to go to mass in Montreal. Definitely visit these church as soon as possible.
Bars and Clubs
Campus bars – Matas
If you’re looking for somewhere to meet up with friends then look nowhere else than the campus itself! There are several bars spread throughout the campus, each with its own specialties and crowds.
- Gerts in located in the basement of the SSMU building and is close to everything. Look out for their offers on their Facebook page and special events for important games (especially during Hockey season!).
- OAP (Open Air Pub), rightly named one of the best places on Earth, opens up exclusively at the start of the school year for a week and comes back for a couple of days at the end of the year. It’s an amazing place to enjoy BBQ, drinks and music with your friends during the day or the evening. It takes place outside, right next to the Redpath museum. Make sure you drop by!
- Bronfman Basement “4 to 7pm” is where you’ll find the management kids enjoying $1 beers every Thursday.
- BDA (Bar des Arts) is located in the Arts Lounge, in the basement of Leacock. Every Thursday, from 5 to 8pm you can enjoy $1 beers and grilled cheese and meet up with friends. Don’t forget to bring your old frosh mug seeing as the event in BYOM (bring your own mug)!
- Blues Pub is the Faculty of Engineering’s pub. Every friday, from 4 to 9pm, they offer an array of drinks in the McConell basement, it’s the perfect start to a Friday night!
- The Faculty of Education occasionally organises 4 to 7pm events in its own pub, the Detention Den, on Thursdays.
- Thomson House is run by the Post-Graduate Student Society and its drinks and food menu are worth a visit for any post-graduate student.
- If your program is located on MacDonald campus, don’t fret! The Ceilidh Pub, located in the Centennial Centre, is where the party’s at, especially on Thursdays.
- Always be on the lookout for wine and cheese events! They’re an amazing opportunity to meet people with similar interests or from the same program over a variety of cheese and wine.
New to Montreal
Phone Companies – Matas
Montreal offers many phone plans and you can quickly find yourself submerged in a dozen of deals with no idea of which one to pick.
You can either opt for a bring your own phone plan (which are significantly cheaper but require an unlocked phone, some companies offer a 10% on phone plans if you bring your own phone) or a plan that comes with a phone. You should decide how much data and calling minutes you want, text messages are usually unlimited and some companies even offer free international texting. Keep in mind that the downtown campus has wifi in all buildings and has progressively been extending wifi coverage to outdoor areas such as Lower Field. You won’t need much data, especially if you stay within the McGill bubble and don’t commute much. As for calling minutes, most companies offer unlimited calls in the evening (for instance, Fido). Rogers, Bell, Telus, Videotron, Fido, Koodoo and Virgin Mobile offer their services in Montreal. Fido and Koodoo are some of the cheapest companies but this depends on the ongoing deals.
We recommend visiting the carriers’ websites and comparing their offers to find the one that fits your needs the most.
- Please do keep in mind that a you have to add taxes to all the phone plan prices that are advertised, taxes are close to 15% and other provincial fees might be added as well.
- All phones that come with a phone plan will be locked to the company. You will be unable to unlock the phone until the end of your contract (usually 2 years), which can be bothersome if you plan to travel abroad.
- You could start with a basic plan with not much data and then upgrade your plan if you see you need more data.
- If you’re going abroad for the summer, ask your company if you have the option of deactivating your phone plan for the summer. You won’t be able to use the plan until you reactivate it, but you get to keep your phone number and will only pay a small fraction of the usual bill (I paid $16 for the summer instead of $35 per month).
- Offers are ongoing, halfway through the year your company might offer a new plan for about the same price but with more benefits. Keep an eye out for those.
- Some companies are currently offering Spotify Premium for free with their plans.
Walksafe – Matas
Walksafe is a volunteer SSMU service that provides free night-time accompaniment for those who are feel uncomfortable, or who are unable to walk home alone. Their service is available to anyone in Montreal, and they will walk to and from any destination on the island of Montreal and can even accompany you on the metro or taxi. They operate from 9pm to 12am on Sunday thru Thursday nights, and 9pm to 3am on Friday and Saturday nights. Just give them a call at 514-398-2498 and they will send someone your way.
Drivesafe – Matas
SSMU Drivesafe drives students safely home to and from anywhere on the island of Montreal. Their patrol runs on Friday and Saturday nights from 11:00pm to 3:00am. They are sometimes busy and cannot guarantee a ride but they are worth a try if you or someone else is unable to go home. You can reach them at 514-398-8040.
You also have the option of volunteering for Walksafe and Drivesafe, check out their website to learn more about it.
Jobs – Matas
Are you looking for a part-time job? McGill’s Career Planning Services (CaPS) website is the best place to find tips, websites and other resources. Check out their website: https://www.mcgill.ca/caps/students/job
Events in Montreal
FROSH – Carolina
Frosh is an amazing experience at the beginning of the year to make friends and interact with other students in your same faculty. A group of 3-4 frosh leaders take new students around the city and campus showing them some key places of interest.
Each faculty has it’s own frosh events, for example, in the Arts frosh, events include going on a “boat cruise,” going to different clubs around St. Laurent, and “Beach Day” at Beach Club. However, there are events where all faculties come together, such as “Discover McGill,” where it starts with a dynamic campus-wide University Orientation Welcome Event and Fair and then moves into a Faculty Orientation and Faculty Cup campus tour in the afternoon.
Contact information – Frias
Consulado General de México en Montreal
Address: 2055 Rue Peel, Montréal, QC H3A 1V4, Canada
Phone: +1 514-288-2502
Embajada de México en Canadá
Address: 45 O’Connor St #1030, Ottawa, ON K1P 1A4, Canada
Phone: +1 613-233-8988
McGill Students’ Nightline is a confidential, anonymous and non-judgmental listening service, run by McGill students, providing the community with a variety of support. This includes anything from information to crisis management and referrals.
McGill Office for Students with Disabilities
The OSD services, will be the unit which provides support if you feel that difficulties and impairments are hindering your academic performance while at McGill or if you require assistance with access. The assistance offered through OSD targets a wide variety of situations, from medical diagnoses to mental health issues and anxiety disorders, and also includes long term support to accompany students with Learning Disabilities, ADD or ADHD, Asperger’s and autism.
McGill Mental Health Services
The focus at the Mental Health Services is to enable you to achieve psychological well-being and academic success. They provide a secure, non-judgmental and confidential space in which to pursue your mental health treatment. The clinic consists of a team of psychiatrists, psychologists and psychotherapists whom are all available by appointment. They offer a range of services including individual therapy, mental health first aid training, and light therapy lamps.
Address: Brown Student Services Building, West Wing, 3600 McTavish, Suite 5500, Montreal, Quebec. H3A 0G3