McGill buildings against a blue sky with clouds along McTavish Street, facing south east

Living in Montreal

Welcome to your new city!

Bienvenue à Montréal! By deciding to come to McGill, you’ll not only be attending one of the best universities in the world, you'll also be living in one of its most amazing cities!

It's easy to fall in love with the city, but we know you're wondering about the basic about life in Montreal and at McGill. Here are some Montreal basics, with more information about life on campus below.

Language

French is the primary language used on signs, in public service establishments, and in businesses. In many regions of Montreal, English is widely spoken, and most information is available bilingually. You might want to download a translation app on your phone, especially if you plan to venture outside of downtown Montreal.

To help you integrate into Montreal’s bilingual culture, McGill provides various French-language resources:

Montreal Winter

Montreal is one of the coldest cities in North America, where winter temperatures can reach -30 degrees Celsius (-22 degrees Fahrenheit) with wind chill. Snowfalls generally begin in November, and can occasionally last into April.

While you can move around areas of downtown via the underground city, you will need warm winter clothing, including a winter coat, a knitted winter cap (called a tuque), winter gloves, and waterproof winter boots.

Getting Around

Public transit

The Société de Transport de Montréal (STM) is Montréal’s métro (subway) and bus operator. The network is well integrated, has tips on universal accessibility, and is easily navigable through the STM’s trip planning tool where you can plan your route and even follow the GPS position of your bus.

For information on public transit in the greater Montréal area: Réseau de transport de Longueuil, Exo - réseau de transport métropolitain, Société de transport de Laval.

The best option to save money on public transit is by buying a rechargeable STM OPUS card – and being a student makes these eco-travel options even more budget friendly with the 4-month pass, designed with students in mind, to be the length of one semester.

Fares are charged by ride, not by distance, so if you are buying tickets, there is a fixed fare for each journey. Tickets can be purchased from an authorized retailer or at metro stations from station agents or from one of the STM vending machines. Purchase of tickets on buses (exact change required) can be done at the machine upon boarding. You must hold on to your ticket in order to transfer between bus and metro lines.

Biking

Montréal has an ever expanding bike path network, making biking an affordable, eco-friendly and efficient way to get around the city. And if you are running low on energy – you can take your bike with you on the métro and some buses. Maps and tools for biking can be found through Vélo Québec, Montréal On Wheels and La Route Verte.

You can also use Montréal’s BIXI system, a bike-sharing program from April 15 to November 15 with standard and electric bikes available. To get a bike, simply pay for a one-way pass or join up for a seasonal or monthly membership, ride the bike to your desired destination and drop it off at the closest docking station found through the BIXI app.

All McGill community members can benefit from a 10% discount on a seasonal BIXI membership. 

Macdonald Campus offers self-serve bikes that McGill students can borrow for up to 4 hours at a time (available 7 days/week during the warmer months, for free!). Drop by the gym to check out a bike.

Taxi

Wearing a mask is required while in a taxi. If the public transit routes or schedules don't suit your needs, you can always hail a taxi on most major streets. Alternatively, give them a call and they'll pick you up. Major taxi services include:

DOWNTOWN MAC CAMPUS
Atlas Taxi: 514-485-8585 Co-op de l'Ouest: 514-636-6666
Diamond Co-Op: 514-273-6331 Lachine Taxi: 514-637-7011
Taxi Co-Op: 514-667-8960  

Uber

Uber is also available in Montreal, and they offer pickup from the airport.

Grocery Stores

Most grocery stores now offer online grocery delivery services for under $10—make sure you have a credit card on hand! A few grocery stores near our campuses offer special bargains for students:

Métro

3575 Parc Ave., Suite 5100 (in La Cité)
(10% discount for students on Mondays)

Provigo

3421 Parc Ave.
(10% discount for students on Mondays)

Montreal neighborhoods are also filled with epiceries (smaller grocery stores), offering fresh produce and other staples. Produce is often cheaper and fresher at the epiceries, but prepared or dry goods may be more expensive than a major supermarket.

Macdonald Campus area:

Coop de Bellevue - Marché Richelieu

33 Saint-Pierre St. (walking distance from campus)

Provigo

90 Rue Morgan (Baie-D'Urfé)
(10% discount for students on Mondays.  For students living in residence, a free shuttle bus is available Monday evenings to take you there and back!)

 

For a list of affordable places to get groceries and other money-saving tips, check out the Cheap Sheet from Scholarships & Student Aid!

Service Providers

If you're looking for information about mobile, phone, or internet providers in your area, you can find a complete list of providers available in Montreal on this government website. 

Welcome to your new campus!

McGill’s beautiful downtown and Macdonald campuses are full of historic buildings and expansive green spaces! Here are some tips to help you enjoy your time:

Campus Space

McGill’s downtown campus provides a symbolic and physical link from Montreal’s urban core to the green of Parc Mont-Royal! Some highlights include:

  • The Y-intersection: This focal point is the symbolic centre of campus, allowing a great perspective on the campus and its surroundings.
  • Lower Field: This is one of the largest green spaces in downtown Montreal, making it an ideal place to relax, hold activities or play a game of frisbee!
  • Roddick Gates: These iconic gates mark the entrance to the campus from Sherbrooke St. and downtown.
  • Milton Gates: The lesser known sister of the Roddick Gates, this entrance at the intersection of Milton Street and University Street leads right to a set of stairs taking you directly up to the Arts Building!
  • McTavish Street: This street is a centre for student services and activities, housing the Service Point, the SSMU’s University Centre, and plenty of places to sit and enjoy the scenery.

 

McGill’s Macdonald Campus will enchant you with its abundance of green space (650 hectares!), a working farm, and a riverfront location in the picturesque village of Ste. Anne de Bellevue. You can easily get there by shuttle bus or public transportation. Our must-sees:

  • McEwan and Watson Fields: Enjoy a picnic under the trees, a game of volleyball on the sand court, or relax in the gazebo.
  • Paddle Mac: Paddle out onto the waters of lac St Louis, or simply take in the spectacular views – just a short walk from your classroom!
  • Morgan Arboretum: Canada’s largest arboretum with an extensive trail network to enjoy all year long.
  • Mac Farm: A fully operational dairy farm, right here on campus.
  • Mac Market: The place to stock up on campus-grown fruits and vegetables.

Have a look at some campus maps for more information, or book a tour!

Land Acknowledgement: McGill University is on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations. We acknowledge and thank the diverse Indigenous peoples whose presence marks this territory on which peoples of the world now gather.

Moving Around McGill

The “Pedestrian Zone”?

The entire downtown Lower Campus, including McTavish Street, is a pedestrian zone. Before 11:00am, however, you’re bound to see some trucks making delivery, so stay alert!

Biking

Downtown Lower Campus as well as McTavish St. are Walk-Bike Zones, meaning cyclists must dismount and walk their bikes through campus or park their bikes at one of the racks provided.

In recent years, McGill has doubled the number of short-term use bicycle rack spaces, encouraging the community to cycle to campus! Make sure to use these official racks, and please avoid securing bikes to trees or other University infrastructure.

Driving

Vehicular access and parking on the downtown campus is significantly restricted.

Vehicle circulation on the Lower Campus is limited to emergency, delivery, service, and certain construction vehicles, as well as those used by persons with disabilities or limited mobility. Emergency vehicles are permitted at all times.

The Milton entrance, located at the corner of Milton Street and University Street, is the main entrance for all authorized vehicles to enter campus. For information on where to park downtown, please contact Parking Services.

Macdonald campus, being outside of the city center, has multiple lots with more available spaces. Parking passes are available to students at an affordable annual rate, as well as daily passes. For more information, visit the Macdonald Campus Parking page. 

Shuttle

If you need to travel between the downtown and Macdonald campuses, McGill offers a free shuttle bus that operates year-round. 

 

If accessibility is a concern and you need additional information about accessible spaces and routes on campus, visit the Campus Access Guide

Lockers

You may want to consider getting a locker in your Faculty building, as you may find it handy to have a secure spot to leave your books, coat, boots, etc.

Lockers are available on both the Downtown and Macdonald campuses (a detailed list with registration locations is available here - click on Lockers tabs).

Downtown Campus:

  • Bronfman Building
  • Burnside Hall
  • Education Building
  • FDA
  • Leacock Building
  • McConnell Building
  • Stewart Biology Building
  • Trottier Building
  • Wong Building

Macdonald Campus:

  • Macdonald Stewart Building
  • Barton Building
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