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Faculty of Arts’ Student’s Guide to Montreal

U3 student Chantay Alexander tells us all about the best spots on and off McGill campus where Arts students love to spend their time.

Have you ever wondered what Arts students do in their free time? I took it upon myself to explore and visually document a number of locations frequented by McGill students within the Faculty of Arts. Each location’s photo was taken on film, leaning into the quintessential Arts student creativity and adding another touch of individuality to these well-documented and well-loved locations. These are the hottest spots where Arts students choose to create, consume, and coalesce.

First on our list is Crew Collective Café in Montreal’s Old Port. Always in search for caffeine, students love this 1920s bank-turned-café. It provides a hint of luxury with its beautiful architecture, marble floors, and ornate brass light fixtures – not to mention the delicious coffee and pastry selection. Those embarking on a tough study session appreciate the ability to take a breath and absorb the decadent surroundings. This café offers the possibility of booking rooms, perfect for study groups. McGill’s arts organizations often host social events here as well. Take, for instance, the recent Semi-Formal event hosted by the executive teams from the Political Science, East Asian Studies, and History departments.

People standing on the sidewalk outside storefront
Image by Chantay Alexander .
View from the street of the front of Crew Collective Café, with people gathered outside

Find them here: Facebook; Instagram; Website

Address: 360 Rue Saint-Jacques, Montréal

Next, the classic and beloved The Word Bookstore. If you’re an Arts student at McGill, chances are you’ve browsed their overflowing book collections and perhaps chatted with the owners about your latest read. The bookstore is located just off campus in the Milton-Park area. Complete with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves filled with used books at discounted prices, The Word Bookstore has a welcoming atmosphere and contains books on every topic imaginable. Many arts students go here for both pleasure and academics: some professors prefer to have their course-required books available for purchase here, and the store also sells discounted used course books – the perfect excuse to visit!

outside store front with books on windowsill, woman walking in foreground
Image by Chantay Alexander .
Outside The Word Bookstore, with books lining the window.

Find them here: Facebook; Instagram; Website

Address: 469 Rue Milton, Montréal

Café Insiders is yet another treasured café by McGillians and young professionals alike. Located on St. Denis, it’s accessible to the many arts students living in the Plateau area and caters to those looking for something that stands out from the average café study session. Students can book their spot, and each co-working reservation comes with as much coffee and snacks as your heart desires. The space is also available for event bookings, ideal for student organizations looking to host a chill social event. In the past, McGill Residence Councils for freshmen living in residence have organized group study sessions at Insiders, created by and for students.

Image by Chantay Alexander .
Street view of the front of Insiders Café.

Find them here: Facebook; Instagram; Website

Address: 4451 Saint Denis St, Montreal

I couldn’t write about Arts students without including at least a little bit of art! The Musée des beaux arts de Montréal, located on Sherbrooke Street W, is currently featuring the Nicolas Party L’heure Mauve exhibits. The collection is beautiful any day of the week, but the museum’s monochromatic social parties elevate the experience immensely. Art and music lovers alike will enjoy the final social event hosted for the exhibit on September 21, which includes a musical accompaniment curated by Pierre Lapointe for each room. The event also features a DJ, food, drinks, and a monochrome theme based upon one of the rooms in Party’s exhibit – September is light green, so students can come all dressed up in their favourite green outfit. Who doesn’t love a theme?

Image by Chantay Alexander .
Photo of Nicolas Party’s sculpture titled “Head” in front of an abstract mural also painted by Party.

Find them here: Facebook; Instagram; Website

Address: 1380 Sherbrooke St W, Montreal

A hidden Montreal gem, De Stiil Bookstore on Duluth Ave provides literature lovers with an impeccably curated selection of novels, biographies, poetry collections, cookbooks, and more. On top of its amazing selection, De Stiil is run by the coolest bookstore owner you’ll meet, Aude Le Dubé. A writer herself, she’ll encourage you to lounge around for a while and escape into the pages of your next favourite novel. The bookstore stands out because of its many events, my favourite being their cookbook releases, often featuring a local author. Students can come sample some of the dishes featured in the cookbook, often paired with refreshments and great company. It's not surprising why this is a favourite destination of many arts students – the atmosphere renders it more of a community rather than just another store.

Image by Chantay Alexander .
View of De Still Bookstore from Duluth Street. Two students are talking in front of the store.

Find them here: Facebook; Instagram; Website

Address: 351 Av. Duluth E, Montréal

Don’t want to leave McGill campus? Look no further than the Islamic Studies Library, located just off McTavish Street. This library has a much quieter atmosphere than other campus libraries, which makes it ideal when cramming for exams. The interiors are also beautiful – even if you don’t have much studying to do, it’s worth paying a visit for this alone. As an added bonus, the Islamic Studies Library is a much less grueling walk up the hill than other fan favourites, like the Nahum Gelber Law Library

Image by Chantay Alexander .
Inside the Islamic Studies Library.

Find them here: Facebook; Website

Address: 859 Sherbrooke St W, Montreal

Next on the list is the McCord Museum, located mere steps away from McGill’s campus. McCord is currently hosting an exhibit on Indigenous Voices of Today. They pair historical and culturally significant items of Indigenous peoples in Canada with current firsthand stories from Indigenous people, recounting their own experiences and struggles with identity amidst ongoing processes of assimilation. The exhibit is a great starting point for arts students who want to learn more about the rich history of Indigenous life in Quebec, and the McCord Museum also regularly features Indigenous documentaries, blogs, and group events for those seeking a bit more. Lucky for us, McGill students can purchase tickets at a discount, and Wednesday evenings are completely free of charge, so don’t miss out on this deeply moving exhibit.

Image by Chantay Alexander .
Steps leading up to the front entrance of Musee McCord

Find them here: Facebook; Instagram; Website

Address: 690 Sherbrooke St W, Montreal

This wouldn’t be a student life article without including the famous Mount Royal Park. Mount Royal looms directly above McGill campus and is an easy getaway for anyone wanting to experience a bit of nature in between classes. The park is accessible from many entry points, including the top of Peel Street directly upwards from Peel Metro; from Mount Royal through Jeanne Mance Park; or from the opposite side via Chemin Remembrance. McGill student groups host many events on the mountain year-round, including watching the sunset, skating excursions on Beaver Lake, and birdwatching outings. Next time you’re bogged down by schoolwork and looking for a breath of fresh air, make sure to visit Mount Royal Park. Bring a picnic basket and a couple of friends, and you won’t want to leave!

View of Montreal’s city skyline on a sunny day, from the viewpoint at the top of Mount Royal.
Image by Chantay Alexander .
View of Montreal’s city skyline on a sunny day, from the viewpoint at the top of Mount Royal.

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