At McGill but not in Montreal

A spring sunset on Macdonald Campus. Credit: Mohsin Bin Latheef

I go to McGill, but I do not live in Montreal!

In fact, I never have lived in Montreal. That is because I go to the ‘other’ campus, the Macdonald Campus. Yes, I will get annoyed if you are from McGill and you spell it as MacDonald. 🙂 And no, it is not on a different planet, we are very happy at Macdonald Campus, thank you! Most people at McGill will tell you the wonderful things about Montreal, of which I only know a few.

I will use this post to tell you what I know: the favorite five things about Mac Campus and Sainte Anne de Bellevue, my lovely little village for the last three years:

    • The lake. What else can one say? Just cross the road and you will find yourself walking alongLakeSt Louis. I could see it from my window when I lived in the dorm (which will soon get a post of its own). The lakeside is brilliant during the summer, when the boats are sailing, the breeze is blowing and the trees are lush. If you haven’t picnicked on the grass besides the lake, you haven’t quite lived at Mac. It is frozen stiff during the winter, and I swear I have seen people drive on it. During the summer and the fall, students can often be seen trying to take that awesome Facebook profile picture.
    • The arboretum. A giant forest which really sparkles during the fall. You can go cross country skiing during the winter, or hiking during the summer. There are occasional star-gazing sessions, bird-watching tours and the like organized through the forest. There is also a little zoo, which for some reason I have not yet managed to visit. You can borrow bikes from the security offices and visit. Yes, that is correct; during the non-winter months you can borrow the excellent bikes for free. They are yours for three hours.
    • Happy Feet! If you thought Mac Campus was only about the green stuff, this one is about painting the campus red. I am proud to be part of Happy Feet. We are a group of students who coordinate free dance lessons for students as a means to share our cultures. Each week we organize instructors (who are fellow students), to come and teach us different dance forms. We have learnt the Merengue, Salsa, Bachata, B-Zouk, and even Bollywood! Happy Feet will definitely get a few entries from me. Find us on Facebook here.
    • The student community. Do you know the feeling where you acknowledge everyone while walking past them, because the faces are familiar? None is a stranger on this campus and you always have common friends with every person. There are dozens of student clubs ranging from the Happy Belly that serves free meals every week, to student societies that organize fun trips. There are weekly parties at the campus pub, and those are not for the faint hearted.
Sainte Anne de Bellevue. Credit: Ahmad Suhaizi
  • Sainte Anne de Bellevue: charming little village with its weekly farmers’ market, the lakeshore boardwalk, the string of restaurants with lovely terraces and affordable food, an annual vintage car show, a free skating area, a strong student community and a smattering of historically significant buildings.  And since I promised only five points, I will include the restaurants in this same point. When we decide to go out to eat, it gets hard to choose. Every restaurant is next door to the other: Italian, Oriental, Indian, the neighbourhood coffee shop, pizza. And most restaurants also have lovely terraces on which you can watch the boats go by and soak the sunset across the lake.
The Lake and the Grass are Coated with the Winter. Credit: Mohsin Bin Latheef

Do I wish I had access to the life downtown? Definitely! I do wish I could watch the occasional play or recital. I do wish I could run small errands within the neighborhood. But I have not managed to let go of the laidback pace of life on Mac campus, the sense of community, the vast green spaces (or white spaces, depending on the season), and the lack of claustrophobia inducing concrete. There must be some reason I have lived here for more than three years and still have not brought myself to give it up. I wonder.

Sainte Anne has some lovely places for coffee and dinner. Credit: Mohsin Bin Latheef
The arboretum at its glorious best in the fall season.
Macdonald Campus in the thick of the winter. Credit: Mohsin Bin Latheef
Winter along the lake. Picture credit: Mohsin Bin Latheef
An evening cuppa on Macdonald Campus. Credit: Mohsin Bin Latheef

Most of the pictures in this post were taken by Mohsin Bin Latheef while he was here. He posts more of his pictures here.

2 thoughts on “At McGill but not in Montreal

  1. You MUST visit the town. You might be surprised at something that I did not manage to squeeze into this post: the leisurely pace of life. People dont get impatient at slow walkers who hog the sidewalk. People take casual strolls on the boardwalk, have leisurely meals and coffee, and acknowledge each other when walking past (even making eye contact and smiling!). there is a general sense of community that is often missing in the mega-cities. 🙂


  2. Nice post! I live in Montreal and have gone to Mac for… years (scary how long) and I never ever ever ever ever go into the town. I seldom even visit the water. Anyways, you have inspired me to at least walk to the water sometime!


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