News | McGill Outdoors Club returns home

The McGill Outdoors Club (MOC) has finally struck a deal to buy its Laurentian retreat house from McGill, although it is unclear when the MOC will move back in.

The house, situated in the former village of Shawbridge, north of Montreal, now part of Prévost, was owned by McGill for 54 years before being put up for sale earlier this year. SSMU informed the MOC of its eviction last spring, and the club left the house during a period of two weeks. While SSMU was able to pay for four months of storage rental for MOC, the organization was not willing to acquire property for just one club.

McGill Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Morton Mendelson explained that while the University owns property outside of downtown Montreal – such as the Macdonald campus and the Bellairs Research Institute in Barbados – the MOC house was sold because it was a non-research-related facility serving a student club.

“The lease was up for renewal and when that happened we reviewed the holding. The holding was not on the McGill footprint and the function was not one of teaching or research,” Mendelson said.

“The house was in considerable disrepair and there were renovations that had to be made and so we just felt that it didn’t make sense for us to continue owning the house, and that was the primary reason,” Mendelson added. “The property was for the use of a student club, and as you know student clubs at McGill are independent of the University.”

The MOC established the Fondation plein air de Montreal – a not-for-profit corporation headed by McGill alum Ashley Wynne – to help buy back the house, and to overcome some of the legal challenges involved in acquiring property for a student club.

“Given the high turnover of SSMU and the club it was important to have the house owned and managed by those who would be around,” MOC President Alyssa Holland said.

Holland also noted that the community had long-standing ties to MOC.

“We had a lot of connections with the community in Prévost and…we’ve been there for 54 years, so a lot of people were sad and acted on our behalf,” Holland said.

The club eventually settled on a price of $60,000 for the house, which was estimated to have a value of between $85,000 and $105,000. However, Holland noted that repairs would cost around $50,000. The club will be planning events to raise funds for the house, such as a concert on December 5.