McMaster University: Student tips for life on campus

Where to find the best place for a nap and more

Rachel Katz
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Students spend time in the Maker Space in Thode Library at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario on Thursday, September 22, 2017. (Photograph by Hannah Yoon)

Students spend time in the Maker Space in Thode Library at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario on Thursday, September 22, 2017. (Photograph by Hannah Yoon)

Unofficial school motto: ‘YOHO’ (‘You only Hamilton once’)
Best place for a nap: The second floor of the student centre, or any of the big cozy chairs in the libraries
Best cheap lunch: The Burnt Tongue, though it’s a bit far from campus
Best hangover breakfast: Maple Leaf Pancake House
Favourite watering hole: The Brain on James Street North
Perks of living in this town: It’s really interesting to see how so many of the businesses in Hamilton frequent other businesses in their neighbourhoods
Best place to study: If you’re looking for a desk on campus, the Health Sciences Library is great. If you prefer a café, Ark + Anchor is your best bet.
Weirdest tradition:Before every engineering class’s graduation ceremony, each stream pulls a prank of some kind
Best campus event:From Welcome Week to homecoming, Mac always has a ton of events going on, and a lot of these include fairly inexpensive concerts
Best giveaway: Sidewalk sale during Welcome Week
Best live music venue: The Casbah, and if you’re into open mics, the Baltimore House is great too

PROFILE: McMaster University | Hamilton, Ont. | Founded 1887

University Insider: Rachel Katz, 19, Philosophy and Biology

Located in the west end of Hamilton, McMaster University is nestled between Cootes Paradise, a beautiful network of forest trails, and the Westdale neighbourhood, where many students choose to rent houses. I can honestly say that McMaster feels like home very quickly. The campus is big enough that it takes a few days to orient yourself, but small enough that the 10 minutes between classes is usually ample time to get from one building to the next. While students are academically focused, balance is also extremely important, and you’ll often see students at the gym early in the morning before their first class. The community is diverse, and the extremely friendly student body will help you feel comfortable and welcome at Mac.

When I accepted my offer to McMaster, I had only been to Hamilton once, and that was for a campus tour. I fell in love with the mixed architecture and abundant nature immediately, but when I told people at my Toronto high school that I was moving to Hamilton for at least the next four years, I was met with sneers and jabs at my venture to “the most boring place on Earth.” Let me assure you that Hamilton is many things, but boring is not one of them. There are so many places and neighbourhoods to explore, not to mention the beautiful parks and waterfalls (there are more than 100 of the latter). Since you pay for a bus pass as part of your student fees, don’t be afraid to get a little lost finding your own favourite café or waterfall. Don’t worry, only one bus goes to Burlington.

The McMaster Students Union recognizes almost 300 clubs and groups. From blogging to biochemistry to gospel choir, Mac offers a vast range of ways to get involved both on campus and in the Hamilton community. Students can explore their options during the annual Clubsfest, at the beginning of the school year. If plants are more your thing, Cootes Paradise lies at the edge of campus. It’s maintained by the Royal Botanical Gardens and serves as their largest plant and animal sanctuary. Many students run on its trails or stroll there with friends to relax between mid-terms.

Local Vibe
Gone are the days when the Steel City was known for just that. A line of script on the sidewalk of James Street North reads “Art is the new steel,” and in many ways, this is true. Over the past several years, Hamilton has developed into a city full of art and artists. Nowhere is this clearer than on James Street, which hosts a monthly art crawl at which local artists display their work. Cafés and bars are open late and, no matter the weather, the events are always well-attended and lots of fun.

The Skinny
The school newspaper, the Silhouette (, has campus news and events, while the Hamilton Spectator provides a detailed calendar of city happenings ( MacInsiders ( is also a useful forum.

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