view of the city from the top of Mont-Saint-Hilaire

Monteregian Flora

About the Course

Mont St Hilaire
Date: Not being offered Summer of 2024

Note: We are planning to run the course; but if Covid-19 necessitates a cancellation, deposits will be refunded. We advise that students register for another 3-credits course not to compromise their degree requirement. Furthermore, we may need to reduce the maximum number of students enrolled in the course to comply with the University guidelines. A first come, first served policy will be applied based on the date of application, and there will be a waiting list.

This two week long, 3-credit field course in the McGill Summer Studies program introduces students to the woody and herbaceous plants of our region.

The overall emphasis of the course is practical rather than technical. We want you to be able to recognize and know the common names of all the species you are likely to encounter outdoors around Montreal. We mostly will teach you how recognize species based on their characteristics in the field, not on the specialized characters and associated technical terms used in more advanced botanical literature.

The teaching involves much time outdoors looking at plants where they grow; these daily excursions with teachers who know a lot about the local flora are supplemented by time for study and discussion. It is more satisfying and fun to start learning plants outdoors in this sort of small, interactive group setting than in lectures and labs during the regular school year!

The course is intended for anyone who enjoys natural history, anyone who wants to know what plants are around them when they are outdoors. It is a good introduction to more advanced study in botany, including PLNT 358 and PLNT 458. It will be useful to any student interested in animal ecology -- knowing common plants you can identify different types of wildlife habitat and feeding behaviour.

It provides a good basis for enriching science curricula in primary and secondary education. It will deepen appreciation of any art or literature that draws heavily on naturalist themes. For students arriving from CEGEP, it's a good way to start into your courses at McGill and lighten your load the first semester if you wish to. Finally, the course will make you a better person -- to know plants is to live a richer life!

The course has been successfully completed by students in Arts, Architecture, Education, Management and Science as well as by interested individuals outside the university with a variety of backgrounds. The course is given at the university's Gault Nature Reserve in Mont St. Hilaire, just east of Montreal. This is the largest remaining tract of the primeval forests of the St. Lawrence Plain. The 1200 hectare site has a wide variety of habitats, rugged and diverse topography, and an exceptionally rich flora. The exact dates vary a bit year to year, but are usually in mid- to late-July. Students live in small, chalet-style dormitories on the mountain. The course fee for 2023 is $471.42 (2024 fee TBD), which includes a hand lens, a textbook, handouts, lodging and supper each day; students are responsible for their own breakfast, lunch and snacks. Tuition fees depend on your residency and student status -- to review fees and/or register consult the Summer Studies office at (514) 398-5212.

>> Syllabus for 2024 

Course Registration

Please complete the application form and e-mail or take it to susan.gabe [at] (Susan Gabe) (susan.gabe [at] in the Biology Dept, Rm N7/9A. A required $75 deposit for the course must be paid before you can register. Payment of this deposit is made into your student account, using any of the acceptable payment methods. Consult McGill Student Accounts for details.

Once you have arranged for a payment, please email Student Accounts (student.accounts [at] to notify them that the payment has been made, with the subject of the email being Biology 240 – Deposit. Do not forget to include your student ID number. This will earmark the payment for the field course. Please also copy Susan Gabe on that email (susan.gabe [at] so that she can then open MINERVA to allow you to register for the course. Failure to send this confirmation email may result in a delay in receiving permission to register.

Please note that the balance of the course fee must be paid at least one week before the class begins using this same procedure, including a copy of your payment email to Susan Gabe.

Enrolment is limited, but there is a waiting list – first come, first served. Provided you meet the course prerequisites, the date you submit your application and pay your deposit decides your place in the queue; you will receive an email once you are approved to register on MINERVA. As soon as you receive that notification, please register for the course to hold your place.

The $75 deposit is refundable only if you withdraw from the course by May 31. Final payment is due a week before class. Contact Susan Gabe by email to withdraw. Note that the course costs do NOT include the registration fees associated with taking the course; these vary with your residency and fall course load and are assessed through the Student Accounts Office. Please note: If a student withdraws from the course after June 15 without an appropriate excuse (medical problem/family emergency), they will not be refunded the course fee – unless a replacement can be found

If you have any dietary restrictions (e.g. vegetarian, important allergies), please note these, but be aware: (1) that while vegetarians able to eat fish, eggs and cheese can be accommodated, the food costs charged are insufficient to fully accommodate stricter vegetarians; and (2) that as the vegetarian food is no better than the regular fare. Do not sign-up as vegetarian unless you are really one, because cooking preparations are such that you will be strictly held to a vegetarian diet if this is indicated. Please specify any important allergies: gluten, nuts, bee stings, etc..

>> Important Information - FAQ's

MBSU Field Study Bursary

The McGill Biology Students Union offers a bursary to defer course costs in support of students taking a Biology field course. To be eligible for the bursary, you must be enrolled in a Biology Department program, have a CGPA of at least 3.0, and have completed BIOL 206 and BIOL 215. Applications are due in late March each year. Email thembsu [at] for information or call (514) 398-2188.

Students from other Universities

If you are registered in another Quebec university, you can take the course as a CREPUQ transfer student without having to pay additional registration fees, BUT you must get a McGill ID to register and pay the course fee. If you are a student from outside Quebec you can take the course, but you must register and pay registration fees to McGill Summer Studies; this will get you into the McGill system and provide a McGill ID number so that you can use MINERVA to register for the course and pay your fees.

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