Monday, March 31, 2014

Must see/do in Hamilton

I spent four months living in Hamilton (September to December). I worked at the Central branch of the Public library. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there—it’s a vibrant city with strong arts and community organizations, lots of students, and many beautiful parks and trails.

Waterfalls: Hamilton is full of trails that are great for running, cycling, and hiking. There are over 100 waterfalls in Hamilton—I dare someone to visit each one during their co-op. This website is a great resource for tracking them down. a list of all the public trails in Hamilton.

Artcrawl: This is something that happens every month in Hamilton. It’s a great way to see their thriving art and music scene.

~Liz, Fall Co-op

Friday, February 28, 2014

Living in Regina

Regina is a small city with a big city feel; at least that’s one of the city’s numerous unofficial taglines. Basically there’s no shortage of things to do and people to meet on any day of the week. Unfortunately, the city gets a bad rap for being boring and un-exciting – this is mostly because events and things to do aren’t easy to find for newcomers and visitors. If you’re making the move to Regina (congratulations, by the way) don’t hold it up to incredibly high standards and you’ll have an amazing time. I’ve lived in Regina all my life, so I thought it best to write up this guide.

Misc / Things to Do/Links

·         The free biweekly newspaper the Prairie Dog Magazine is the best source of information on upcoming events including movies, music, theatre and other entertainment. Their website also lists events.
·         Regina has many excellent local restaurants to suit a variety of tastes, experiences and budgets. Many incorporate local meat and produce. There are also the standard chain restaurants and bars you’ll find across the country.
·         Links:
o   Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region
o   Saskatchewan Government Insurance (vehicle registration, drivers’ licenses)

·         Lastly, as a long-time resident of Regina I’d be glad to help you out if you have any questions. Email me at anytime.

~Lukas, Fall/Winter Co-op

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Living in Kingston

Kingston is a small city with a lot to offer. Landlords are somewhat skeptical of renting to undergrad students, but they are very keen on dealing with graduate students. Finding a 4 or 8 month rental or sublet should not be too difficult. There are places available year-round, but you will certainly have your pick during the summer months. 

There will be several places near the main Queen's campus and further west near Queen's Faculty of Education. If you want a really quiet place, there are several apartments full of seniors and small dogs just north of Princess Street that are accommodating to mature students. There are several discount grocery stores, thrift stores, and Giant Tigers to save money on household items and groceries.

Co-ops in Kingston are rare compared to Toronto or Ottawa, so you'll generally find less rental advice. But comparatively, it should be easier and cheaper to locate a place here.

Although closed in the winter months, taking the ferry to upper New York State makes for a good day or weekend trip. If you don't have a car, you can bike across Wolfe Island. VIA Rail is a great way to move a small amount of items to Kingston. Traveling by Greyhound can be cheaper, but dealing with the transfer at the Bay Street station in downtown Toronto can be a pain with luggage.

~Matthew, Summer Co-op

Friday, February 14, 2014

Getting Around Regina

A common issue in many Western Canadian cities is a lack of respect for public transit. Regina is no exception – the assumption is that if you’re living and working in the city, you own a car. If you’re bringing a car with you, getting around will be pretty simple, though rush-hour traffic in/out of downtown can be pretty bad. You’ll learn as you go. If you’re working in the winter here you’ll need a block heater for your engine.

 Biking isn’t too bad in the summer. You can try in the winter but you’ll have to deal with the snow and cold. There are nice bike paths around town for recreational biking. Avoid biking on: Albert Street, Broad Street, Victoria Avenue, Lewvan Drive, Pasqua Street, and Saskatchewan Drive; these are not bike-friendly roads.

Public transit: Regina’s bus system is slowly improving. The Regina Transit home page has a wonderful tool that will help you plan your entire bus trip from point A to point B; use the rest of the site to determine routes to take to/from work as well as info on bus passes. Side note: taxis are typically hired by phone – you’ll get awkward stares trying to hail a cab on the street.

~Lukas, Fall/Winter Co-op

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Advice for Living in Ottawa

Start searching for a rental in Ottawa as soon as possible. It isn't overly difficult to find a place in Ottawa, but there is competition and you will have to put in some work going over ads on the MLIS forum, looking over ads in Kijiji and Craigslist, etc. Because Ottawa is a university town and landlords are accustomed to interns, 4 to 8 month sublets are common. Summer rentals will be the easiest to locate, as is January – April. For September – December rentals, you will be competing with students from U of O and Carleton, so it's best to start your housing hunt as soon as possible.

The central Byward Market area is generally the most expensive, but the Bank Street and Hintonburg areas can be much cheaper and offer neighbourhoods full of cafes, galleries and things to do. If the suburbs are your thing, there are a few Ottawa Transit options outside of the main hub if you don't have a vehicle, but not very many options. 

Ottawa is a very pedestrian-friendly city, and you can save a lot of money on transportation if you can manage on foot or bike. A cross-town walk from Hintonburg (West End) across Parliament to Byward takes as little as 20 minutes. Ottawa transit is good for a city this size, but it's not great and the routes are often inflexible (as in it's sometimes quicker to walk a few kilometers in Ottawa than take a bus). Rentals in Gatineau are even cheaper, although it would be advisable to know French as many landlords deal in French and prefer French tenants.

Ottawa has several good thrift stores to find household items for cheap. Giant Tigers in Ottawa are outstanding compared to most cities, and often have a decent selection of grocery and produce. There are several library tours offered through CLA and other student groups. Ask around at your co-op for any pointers. Remember to bring your skates if you're in Ottawa during the winter months.

~Matthew, Winter Co-op

Monday, February 10, 2014

Advice for Living in Hamilton

Grocery shopping: There are many Fortinos in Hamilton, which are owned by Loblaws. The prices are higher at Fortinos and Metro. I found the most inexpensive place to shop was the Superstore Walmart on the mountain (it has a produce section, deli, and bakery). There is also a very large and diverse Nations market in Jackson Square downtown Hamilton (attached to the Central Public Library). The Nations market has the best prices in town, hand down, but lacks some Western food items. Check out their delicious buffets and salad bars too.

Neighborhoods: Locke Street is a cute little neighborhood very close to downtown with its own (very small and very awesome) library and some fantastic food. Westdale village is another great area, full of older heritage homes, coffee shops, a metro, library, and Shopper’s drug mart. I highly recommend living near/in Westdale as it is quiet, student-orientated, and near Central HPL and walking distance to McMaster University. I found my short-term sublet through the McMaster Housing blog. Dundas and Ancaster are also beautiful and quaint parts of Hamilton I would recommend for living in if you have access to a car. 

~Liz, Fall Co-op

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Living in Guelph


Guelph is one of the best cities to live in! The local transportation is quite wonderful – on time, friendly, used heavily by students, and occasionally driven by the clinically insane. But it will get you where you need to go. The city itself is quite walkable/passably bike-able (though, some main roads are suicide for bikers – we don’t judge you for riding on sidewalks). It’s pretty reasonable to find a place to rent between 350-500 if you don’t mind roommates, since it’s a big University town that also offers co-ops in many programs (so it’s easy to usurp someone’s lease).

The arts/music/culture scene is fantastic and there’s lots of wonderful places to eat and shop. Make sure to visit the downtown for a plethora of community driven events and functions. And say hi to the public librarians – they’re fantastic people!

~Ashley, Fall Co-op

Friday, January 31, 2014

Housing Advice for Regina

There are 3 commonly used resources to finding accommodation in Regina:
·         UsedRegina (
·         Kijiji (
·          Leader Post (the local newspaper, online:

For some reason Craigslist never caught on here. Using the combined resources above you should hopefully be able to find a place. I say hopefully because for the past few years, the vacancy rate in Regina has been less than 1%; try to start finding a place earlier than later. Be prepared to give references. Also keep in mind that tenancy regulations in Saskatchewan are quiet different from Ontario – rules are much more stringent (i.e. no pets is almost a given). You’ll also have to pay a damage deposit. Rent can be anywhere from $800 to $1400 a month for a one bedroom.

Most areas of town are good, with the exception of the infamous “North Central” or “North of Dewdney” area. McLean’s Magazine reported it as Canada’s most dangerous neighborhood in 2007. It’s complicated and arguably not a big deal, but it’s probably best you avoid it as a newcomer to the city.

Public transit isn’t great (more on that later), so you may want to keep your commute/distance to work in mind in selecting a place to live.

~Lukas, Fall/Winter Co-op

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Saskatoon Health Region

Welcome to the Paris of the Prairies!

One thing must be said up front – the bus system is seriously flawed. This is coming from a long time resident and public transit user. If you know where you are working, plan to live nearby. Fantastic areas to live are City Park, Nutana, and University Heights. Rent is kind of up there for a smallish city – 500+ with roommates, and much much more for a bachelor (and many bachelor apts. are basement suites).Stay away from the “alphabet” neighbourhoods on the west side. (Avenue R, Avenue P, etc)

The culture of the city is very vibrant – lots going on in the local music, writing, and art scene. You’ll hear people talking about “the boom” excessively. If I had a dime for every time… I wouldn’t be in library school. If you’re here for the winter, learn to layer. Average temps can waver between -25 to -50 for weeks at a time. It’s a “dry” cold, so dress with multiple layers, socks, and in a wind-impenetrable way. It’s tolerable. Maybe it’s part of the reason people here are so down to earth – nature is constantly kicking our ass and there’s nothing we can do about it.

The city is getting friendlier for bikers, and it’s got a quickly growing younger population. There’s lots going on in community development with the public library – check it out! We also have the highest per capita volunteers than any other Canadian city, and the highest average hours of sunshine a year.

~Ashley, Winter Co-op

Monday, January 27, 2014

Hamilton: Navigation and Transportation

The Mountain: Hamiltonians distinguish most parts of the city as being either “on the mountain” or “off the mountain”. McMaster U, Westdale Village, Locke St., and downtown Hamilton are off the mountain. The big box stores and Limeridge Shopping mall are in a more suburban area and are on [top of] the mountain.

Transportation: If you are working downtown, know that parking is relatively cheap—as low as 4.00 a day if you park in the lot on John Street. You can purchase a monthly pass for $70 dollars. Hamilton is equipped with many bike lanes and I found I was able to ride my bike for most of my co-op. If you are deciding between busing and parking downtown, parking may in fact be cheaper.

~Liz, Fall Co-op