Culture  Froshies to big fishes

A user’s guide to the user’s guides

As first-years come of age with the help of the traditional campus-adjacent dipsomania, they may gradually find themselves seeking those activities – those trappings of identity! – in which the McGill hoards are not as involved. Such is growing up and escaping the McGill bubble. In an effort to provide sources of those ‘extra-extra-curricular’ events, I’ve reviewed three websites, each of which covers a unique slice of Montreal culture for the curious freshman.

For the pusillanimous (read: nerds), the problem presented by next Saturday night’s activity is resolved by Midnight Poutine ( This blog has the prototypical array of concert updates and reviews of music and restaurants. Its staffers manage to cater to two important subgroups of the undergraduate population, the hipsters and the hipster-foodies, in their frequently updated and sometimes lacklustre culture pieces.  The offerings are supplemented by a music podcast that defies categorization as anything but ‘quirky’ or ‘eclectic’ – much as I imagine the people responsible for it do – with a selection of songs by the likes of Bob Dylan, Peaches, and Diamond Rings.  But that’s not to say that their choices are lacking quality – they include many fledgling and obscure Montreal-based groups.

The Rover ( is an online journal that publishes reviews of visual art, books, theatre, film, music, dance, events, ‘trends,’ and festivals. Many of the city’s anglophone authors and literati are contributors, such as Marianne Ackermann, the Rover’s publisher and the author of the recent novel Piers’ Desire.  Insightful, pithy, literary, and structured to promote interaction and commentary, the Rover is for the student with a minor in Art History who plans to study abroad at Paris IV-La Sorbonne; the kind of student who spends their days luxuriously draped over the chairs at Blackader-Lauterman, staring out the windows and thinking of casual seduction. Indeed, in its layout and the quality of its reviews, the Rover is an excellent rebuttal to the idea that edited, researched journalism will atrophy as the internet usurps print’s traditional market.

But sometimes, migration to the internet is an unwilling change, even a tragic one. Such was the case on June 22, 2012, when Montreal lost its Mirror, the free weekly that had been distributed since 1985. My grief had reached Hadean depths by the time I finally discovered the Mirror’s reincarnation, Cult MTL (, a website launched by many of the Mirror’s former employees where they continue to publish the same sort of work: sex columnist Sasha answers your carnal questions and Johnson Cummins cites concerts for the coming week. Even the Rant Line is preserved! Best of all for our froshie friends, the right-hand sidebar has a ‘To-do list’ feature that lists all the goings-on of the current day.

Perhaps it takes a freshman to know a freshman. The truth is that my writing hides a sinister reality: my true rank in university. At least by surfing the three websites that have been examined, you don’t have to take my advice about what to go and experience.