Living in Hamilton
Conveniences around Campus / Life in Hamilton
Many people know Hamilton only from afar, having viewed the apocalyptic steel mills on Hamilton’s East side as they drive over the skyway bridge between Niagara and Toronto. In actual fact, Hamilton is the best place to live in Canada. Home to a gritty music scene it is on the cusp of a post-industrial revival, making it a hip but affordable place to be. Hamilton is a green city that is surrounded by protected areas, and just a few hours from jaw dropping natural wonders such as the Bruce Peninsula and Algonquin National Park. There is tons to do here, and half of the fun is exploring Hamilton’s nooks and crannies to find what you want. Here is a start:
There are a bunch of food options on and off campus. On campus we have a graduate student run pub called “The Phoenix Bar and Grill”. The Phoenix has a full bar, lunch and dinner menus and hosts live music. There are assorted dining options (pizza, noodles, sandwiches, burgers, etc) in the Student Centre and elsewhere on campus. For vegetarians, Bridges Café is a great option.
Off campus, across Main Street, (opposite McMaster Childrens Hospital, about 20 meters from campus), options include Williams, Gino’s pizza, Pinks Burgers, and Taco Del Mar. About a 5-10 minute walk from campus brings you to Westdale Village, which has many restaurant options including Vietnamese (Saigon Asian Restaurant), Mediterranean (Montfort Mediterranean Cuisine), Canadian/Continental (The Snooty Fox), and upscale options (1010 Bistro). Dessert at the Bean Bar is a must. As you already know, cupcakes make people happy. We thus are pleased that the best cupcakes in the world are available at “Cupcakes of Westdale Village”. Farther afield in Dundas and Hamilton you can find almost anything you crave (Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Indian, Mexican, etc).
Coffee: You will never be far from coffee at McMaster. Tim Horton’s and William’s Cafes are scattered all over campus and many of the cafeterias sell Starbucks Coffee. But if you really want a treat, “Detour Café” in Dundas is a great place to hang out and sip the brown stuff. On Locke Street, the “Bread Bar” has excellent scones and yummy fresh bread. Mulberry Street Café in Hamilton is also worth checking out.
Beer: There are a couple bars on campus (including the Phoenix), in Westdale, and beyond. If an undergraduate party atmosphere is what you are looking for, the string of bars on Hess Street in Hamilton is for you. For a more sophisticated brew, check out the Winking Judge in downtown Hamilton. McMaster is also very near Ontario’s wine country.
Grocery stores: Fortino’s on Main and Food Basics in Westdale are both about a kilometer from campus. If you are feeling fancy (and wealthy), there is a fantastic butcher (Cumbrae’s) and delicious cheese shop (Mickey McGuire’s) in Dundas. There are a few Asian supermarkets in Hamilton; Tan Thanh Supermarket is decent. There are Health Food stores in Dundas (The Horn of Plenty) and on Locke Street (Goodness Me).
Farmers markets: The Hamilton Farmers Market is open year round in downtown Hamilton situated in a newly renovated space. There are also seasonal farmers markets on campus at McMaster, around Hamilton, and in Dundas.
Arts and entertainment: McMaster University has an Art Museum on campus with a dynamic exhibition and events schedule. The Art Gallery of Hamilton is also impressive and since 2005 has been in a new modern building in the heart of downtown Hamilton. There are excellent street festivals throughout the year including the Locke Street festival and the James Street Art Crawls. The First Ontario Centre in downtown Hamilton hosts major concert performances and is home to the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. If you are a football fan, newly constructed Tim Horton’s Field is home to the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Westdale Theatre, 10 minutes from campus, is a convenient option for movies.
Departmental Activities: The Biology Graduate Student Society is a tight knit group that organizes events such as the weekly student seminar series, summer barbeques, a holiday season party (“Holly Frolic”), and graduate-student hosted departmental seminar speakers.
Outdoor: Hamilton is a spectacular place for if you enjoy being outdoors. The Niagara escarpment encircles Hamilton and Dundas and is associated with a network of protected areas including the Royal Botanical Garden, the Dundas Valley Conservation Area, and Cootes Paradise which include trails for biking, hiking, rock climbing, and skiing. Hamilton has a series of waterfalls, many of which are accessible from the Bruce Trail which runs near campus. Hamilton has a growing network of urban and non-urban dedicated bike trails, some of which were formerly rail road lines. For more information please visit Cycle Hamilton.
Getting around: Both graduate and undergraduate students at McMaster are provided with a bus pass that provides unlimited access to public transit in Hamilton during the respective academic years. The fee for this pass is significantly less than what one would pay if monthly passes were purchased and the fee is included in the incidental fees assessed at the beginning of each year. As an added bonus, many of the buses are now equipped with bike racks so that you can take the bus to reach destinations further from campus and then ride your bike. GO transit buses now also have bike racks and bikes are allowed on GO transit trains in non-rush hour times. GO transit trains and buses leave campus, or from various stops in Hamilton, to take you to a variety of destinations in southern Ontario.