McGill University 411: Where to find the best market, cheap lunch, and more

A McGill University insider's perspective on campus life

McGill University student

McGill University. Photograph by Roger LeMoyne

Unofficial school motto:

‘Surviving off wine and cheese’

McGill University Insider Zikomo Smith

Best place for a nap:

The Students’ Society of McGill University lounge in the William Shatner University Centre

Best cheap lunch:

One of the many samosa sales that sprout up daily on campus. They may not be healthy, but it’s only $2 for three samosas.

Best hangover breakfast:

The eggs and minced meat breakfast at Place Milton restaurant

Favourite watering hole:

Bar des Arts—the arts faculty puts on this event every Thursday evening in the Arts Lounge. You can get $1 beers and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Perks of living in this town:

The city is really walkable, and you can easily reach all of the cool attractions

Best place to study:

Neuro Library—you will always find a seat and it is always quiet

Best campus event:

Open Air Pub or OAP—it’s a pop-up beer garden that serves cheap food and beer and also showcases some of the best McGill bands and singers

Best market:

Atwater Market is beautiful in the summer. You can buy really tasty watermelons there.

Best live music venue:

Divan Orange on Saint-Laurent

Best time of year:

Summer in Montreal is divine

The Skinny

Check out McGill’s e-calendar to find out about courses currently available for all faculties and programs at Minerva ( holds all of our student information—courses, fees and transcripts.

University Insider Report: Zikomo Smith, 21, Philosophy and History

Life at McGill is complicated and never dull—it can feel vibrant, stressful, fun, isolating and fulfilling all at the same time. You might be trudging through the snow to make an 8.30 a.m. (gulp!) class on Wednesday morning, then talking to professors during office hours and finally kicking back at Gerts Student Bar that evening. You will try to take advantage of Montreal’s culture and the nightlife on Saint-Laurent, but you’ll also find yourself hibernating in McLennan Library to prepare for mid-terms and the finals grind.

PROFILE: McGill University | Montreal, Que. | Founded 1821

Students are very self-motivated at McGill. They devote themselves to the clubs on campus—many supported by the Students’ Society of McGill University, and ranging from a cappella groups to horse riding to skiing to board games to debating—as well as successful sports and music programs. The university has a diverse student body: 25 per cent of students come from abroad, and there is a truly international feel on campus.


The different perspectives do add to a culture of campus debate (which is sometimes criticized as overzealous). You will also encounter the most humble people at the cutting edge of the craziest research or doing the most daring activities. There is a wonderful chance to learn from your friends and colleagues, who are almost always doing interesting things.

McGill is hard work, but it’s also fulfilling work. If you manage to integrate yourself into the university, throw yourself at opportunities, and avoid 8.30 a.m. classes, McGill is your spot!


McGill is full of hidden gems, so get adventurous and discover them! There are a number of less well-known spots, such as the computer lab in the Ferrier Building and the Neuro Library, which are perfect for finals studying. There is a free lunch service for students on weekdays called Midnight Kitchen, and you can also find free food at faculty events and lectures, or on the samosa sale Facebook page. Another of McGill’s best-kept secrets is the student-run Arts Undergraduate Theatre Society. They put on amazing shows; people still rave about their recent production of Chicago!

Local Vibe

Montreal is a foodie city with wonderful restaurants and cool bars. The art and music scenes are well-established—after all, Montreal did give the world Céline Dion and Arcade Fire. And the city attracts top performers such as Drake, Adele and Rihanna for concerts at the Bell Centre. There are so many big events—check out the jazz festival, Just for Laughs, Igloofest, and the film festivals.

The city is home to a variety of immigrant communities and is mostly French-speaking, although you do not need French to get by. It is fairly liberal and prone to protests. Montreal truly is a city full of life and diversity.

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