Trying to find the ten most beautiful universities in Canada was simultaneously extremely easy and difficult. First, because there are about 96 universities in Canada, and too many of them look amazing. Second, because multiple sources have tried to make this same list before, all with different results. It makes sense, though; it’s very subjective. I saw lists on Times Higher Education, EscapeHere, Culture Trip, and even Best Choice School, which named thirty different beautiful campuses. Among these, I’ve decided to show you the ones that, through a couple of pictures and mostly information from their own websites, felt beautiful.
1. Royal Roads University (Victoria, BC)
Royal Roads University is located in one of Canada’s most beautiful National Historic Sites: Hatley Park. An Edwardian castle with Rose, Italian, and Japanese gardens, a view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and over 15 Km of walking, hiking, and biking trails. It is literally so beautiful if you go on the Hatley Park National Historic Site’s website, it will show more information for those who would like to use the space for events or weddings. But, as they say, it’s a lot more than just a pretty castle. At Royal Roads University, they're proud to have students from around the world choose us to help them continue on their path to higher learning.
Royal Roads is a unique Canadian public research university that specializes in leading-edge applied and professional programs in Business, Tourism & Hospitality, Communication & Culture, Education & Technology, Environment & Sustainability, Humanitarian Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies, Leadership Studies and Professional & Continuing Studies. They pride themselves on approaching things a little differently because we recognize every student is different. Royal Roads was established as a public research university in 1995, but it was a military college for 55 years prior to this. They have a strong belief in an educational style that fits the students’ lifestyle. Moreover, their cohort-style education can help students stay highly motivated, challenge each other, and support each other as they may have similar views and goals.
2. University of British Columbia (Vancouver, BC)
UBC is surrounded by forest on three sides and ocean on one. It’s perfect for those who need a little escape to nature. However, it’s also perfect for those who prefer a little escape to the city, as downtown Vancouver is only a thirty minute bus ride away. Most students who have reviewed this university on different websites have brought up how beautiful this campus felt and the opportunities it allowed. In terms of facilities, this campus has one of Canada’s leading academic libraries with 21 branches, a world leading laboratory, the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, the country’s largest teaching museum, and one of the top five Japanese Gardens outside of Japan.
3. Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario)
This campus is a perfect example of living green. It’s committed to helping the planet through fun initiatives such as student communities, organizations, and even sustainable spaces such as The Tea Room, a 100 percent waste-free café on campus. Queen’s University is also located perfectly close to downtown Kingston. You can eat on campus, at one of the three dining halls or 21 retail food outlets, or you can hang in, according to Culture Trip, the town with the most restaurants per capita in the country. Students describe Kingston as “quaint and eclectic,” big enough to explore, and small enough to feel comfortable. Plus, if you like being close to water, you’ve got Lake Ontario right at the border.
4. McGill University (Montreal, Quebec)
QS Best Student Citiesranks Montreal, the city where this beautiful campus is located, as one of the best in the world. From the picture alone it’s easy to see how McGill manages to balance its central location with more peaceful, green areas. McGill offers Inter-Campus many shuttles between their Downtown and Macdonald campus between 7am and 6pm, though the exact times and number of trips may change throughout the season. Regardless, this seems like a nice way even if students need a change of scenery after classes. Some other services available for students focus on the idea of “wellness,” as McGill is committed to students’ well-being and success through academic, career, social, cultural, emotional, financial, physical and spiritual wellness.
5. University of Toronto (Toronto, Ontario)
As it describes on its website, the University of Toronto has some of the most prestigious architecture and beautiful green spaces spread throughout the Great Toronto Area and Mississauga. There are three campuses: St. George, Mississauga, and Scarborough.
St. George Campus’ central location makes it ideal to enjoy all that Toronto has to offer, from art festivals to sports. The Mississauga campus is the second largest, and its award-winning facilities are “situated on 225 acres of protected greenbelt along the Credit River.” FInally, the Scarborough campus is right next to some of Toronto’s natural landmarks. 88,000 students, international faculty, and the third largest library system in North America, it is no surprise so many students want to study in the University of Toronto.
6. Lakehead University (Thunder Bay, Ontario)
This campus is among the most picturesque in the nation. Dynamic and Modern, Lakehead University has two campuses, in Thunder Bay and Orillia. Specifically for the Thunder Bay campus located over the Sleeping Giant, students can easily take breaks and go skiing or hiking, ideal for those who like these sorts of outdoors activities after working hard. Moreover, Lakehead University likes to take advantage of the beautiful “natural laboratory” surrounding its campus for field-work and hands-on learning. EscapeHerepoints out as well that Lakehead’s floor-to-ceiling windows allow students and faculty to see outside even while working, and Lake Tamblyn crossing it makes this environment even better.
7. Western University (London, Ontario)
The city of London in Ontario is known for being the eleventh largest city in Canada, a place where you can get the “big city experience,” according to Western University’s website, but at a lot more affordable. It also still has that sense of a small, safe community, which fits perfectly with one of Western’s main initiatives: promoting/maintaining safety and wellness in every sense of the word. Especially international students who may be afraid to go far from home for the first time may appreciate this sense of community and belonging. Some other major initiatives by the university are related to accessibility, accountability, and sustainability in everyday life.
8. McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario)
McMaster describes life in Hamilton as a mix between cosmopolitan and rustic charm, while staying in Canada’s economic engine, in a more residential area but minutes from downtown. This university is also home to more than 70 Research centers and institutes. Around campus, students will find the type of de-stressing they prefer. For those who want to stay around nature, the Royal Botanical gardens, Lake Ontario, as well as other hiking and biking trails are nearby. And, for those who like a more active lifestyle, Hamilton has plenty of restaurants, concert venues, festivals and Hess Village, “the signature piece of Hamilton’s nightlife."
9. University of Manitoba (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
Both Times Higher Educationand Best Choice Schoolsdescribe this campus as “a city within a city.” Western Canada’s first university, the University of Manitoba is home to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, a place for learning and dialogue, where truths and stories of First Nations communities could be respected and shared. “They wanted to share the wisdom of the Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers on how to create just and peaceful relationships amongst diverse peoples.” This university also has one of the largest amount of indigenous students in the country and is located on Anishinabe and Metis traditional land.
10. Quest University (Squamish, British Columbia)
Founded in 2007, Quest University began with the goal to revolutionize higher education. Though it’s still new, Quest is committed to accessibility and equity. The campus has basketball, tennis and squash courts, a soccer field, and other facilities for students who may like to stay active in between classes or after work. While students can find cafés, restaurants and other locally owned businesses nearby, for those who like to move farther away, Vancouver is an hour drive south and Whistler, the perfect winter recreational haven, is 45 km north. Times Higher Educationadds that since it’s perched on a hilltop, it’s floor-to-ceiling windows offer picture-perfect views.
Wendy is an international student from Ecuador who just graduated from Seattle University with a double major in Creative Writing and Theatre. She’s excited to share some of the stories of things she’s learned in her time in the U.S.