Welcome to Montréal!

Dear SSSP Graduate students,

Welcome to the vibrant city of Montréal! As a local graduate student who’s lived here the last 20 years, I'm excited to guide you through some fantastic experiences in our city. Montréal is known for its rich culture, diverse neighbourhoods, and delectable cuisine, and I've curated a list of activities and eateries to ensure you make the most of your time here.

Montréal Must-Do’s:

Old Montréal (Vieux-Montréal): Immerse yourself in history by strolling through the cobblestone streets of Old Montréal. Explore Notre-Dame Basilica and enjoy the European charm of this area. Take a ride on the Ferris wheel, the zipline, or take a cheap commuter ferry from the old port to one of our many islands. If you want to be a tourist on a budget and will spend some time in the old port, I recommend looking into this pass a little bit in advance. Reservations for more popular activities can fill up but it can be a great deal if you plan a little in advance.

Mount Royal: For a breathtaking view of the city, hike or take a leisurely walk to the top of Mount Royal. This free adventure is walkable from the conference hotel; just walk up Peel Street. The park offers a serene escape right in the heart of Montréal.

Montréal Museum of Fine Arts: Dive into the city's art scene at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, located in the Golden Square Mile. The museum showcases a diverse collection of art, from classical to contemporary. Tickets are only $16 CAD for students 30 and under, and $12 CAD on Wednesday evening.

Jardin Botanique: The Montréal Botanical Garden, or Jardin Botanique de Montréal, is a sprawling oasis of natural beauty and horticultural diversity, showcasing themed gardens, vibrant plant collections, and captivating exhibitions in the heart of the city.

Parc Jean-Drapeau: If you're looking for a green oasis, head to Parc Jean-Drapeau. This park hosts various events and festivals and is home to the Biosphere, an iconic environmental museum. You can also hit up La Ronde amusement park or try out dragon boat racing.

Culinary Delights:

Montréal is a food lover's paradise, with influences from French and multicultural cuisines. Here are some recommendations for every palate:


Tim Horton’s: Ubiquitous and cheap, Tim Horton’s is a Canadian breakfast staple. There’s one around every corner and several within walking distance to the conference. In exchange for $5-10 CAD, you can get a drink and a donut. However, be warned: this isn’t the place to grab breakfast if you are gluten-free.

Nickels Deli: A short metro ride away from the conference, Nickels was originally opened by Celine Dion. Although now run by different management, it offers very affordable breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. Early bird breakfasts before 9 am are even cheaper.

L'Avenue: Famous for its hearty brunch, L'Avenue serves up creative dishes in a funky setting. This is a short metro or cab ride away from the conference. A bit more costly but it is popular with students.


Olly Fresco: Conveniently located in two shopping malls near the conference hotel, Olly Fresco’s is a buffet food bar you check out by weight. You can get a fantastic salad very inexpensively if you pick more greens. Their meals are between $8-25 CAD per person.

Thali: A little hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurant whose food tastes amazing. It’s maybe a 15-minute walk from the conference. For $15-16 CAD you can order the Thali which is 3 dishes, with rice and naan. This restaurant can help folks with food sensitivities and has great vegetarian options.

Time-Out Food Hall: On the second floor within the Eaton centre, which is walking distance to the conference, you can find the timeout food market. It’s a popular mix of foodie favourites from all over the city: these kiosks are open by invitation only. Bring your check books as meals start around $20-30 CAD per person and while it’s not cheap you do get to try some of the best foods in the city without having to pay for transportation.

Happy Hour/Dinner:

Bar Majesthe: Walking distance to the conference, this Asian fusion restaurant offers medium-priced food and drinks but keep in mind that on Wednesdays 5-7 pm drinks are “buy one get one free.” It’s hard to get a better selection of mixed drinks more affordable.

Le Warehouse: A student favorite, Le Warehouse located on Crescent Street boasts a very affordable menu with plenty of variety.

Lola Rosa: A vegan restaurant with two locations within walking distance of the conference, you can’t go wrong with Lola Rosa.

Neighborhoods to Explore in Montréal:

Vieux Montréal: You can hop on the 715 bus to travel to the old part of the city and, for a fraction of the price of a tourist tour bus, get to see many of the highlights of the city.

Plateau-Mont-Royal: Known for its artistic vibe, unique shops, and colourful houses, be sure to stop by the Banquise for a trendy Poutine.

Montréal Village: Located in the heart of the city. You’ll be in Montréal right in time for the pride festival Fierte Montréal, celebrating sexual and gender diversity in the city. Montréal's village is conveniently located near Berri UQAM metro station. It's both walking distance and just a short walk or metro ride away from the conference.

Mile End: A hip neighbourhood with trendy boutiques, cafes, and the famous St-Viateur Bagel.

Griffintown: Experience Montréal's modern side with its chic restaurants and boutiques.

Other Tidbits of Advice:

Montréal has an excellent public transportation system, which is free for those age 65+ and for children under age 11. You definitely don’t need to have a car to get around in the downtown core. They sell tickets by trip, by day, by weekend and they offer a week-long fare. You can see the current metro fares here.

If you find yourself needing something last minute, Dollarama sells odds and ends from toiletries, school supplies, and tourist gifts to snacks. Their pho bowls, made with just boiling water are delicious and cost $1.75 CAD at the time of this writing. Everything in the store costs $5 CAD or less. So, students on a budget can find most items they might have forgotten or a random meal replacement right there. Several Dollaramas are within walking distance to the conference.

Day Trips to Consider:

Ottawa: Nestled along the scenic banks of the Ottawa River, Canada's capital is a captivating blend of history and modernity. Tourists flock to Ottawa for its iconic Parliament Hill, picturesque Rideau Canal, and world-class museums, offering a harmonious mix of cultural immersion and outdoor adventures.

Québec City: Steeped in European charm, Québec City is a living testament to Canada's French heritage. With its cobbled streets, historic architecture, and the magnificent Château Frontenac, tourists are drawn to Québec City for its romantic ambiance, delectable cuisine, and a glimpse into North America's rich colonial past.

I hope you enjoy every moment of your stay. Bon voyage et bon appétit!

Amanda Keller PhD Candidate
Vanier Scholar
McGill University
School of Social Work
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SSSP Local Arrangements Committee, 2023-2024