Montréal has welcomed me with open arms. So much so, in fact, that this incredible place has rapidly begun to feel like home. Here is a short précis of some highlights from my time here so far.
It goes without saying that Montréal pulsates with life and is richly soaked in culture of all kinds, whether museums and galleries, bars and clubs, restaurants and cafés, not to mention the dynamic interaction of people from across the world as the city around them flicks seamlessly between French and English. Particular delights include the gastronomic nirvana of Schwartz’s, which has irreversibly changed my perception of smoked meat, in addition to the joys of poutine and Montréal bagels. It is so easy to stay busy. I have signed up for the McGill law squash league, go running regularly, and have even found opportunities to practise my Italian, all of which have proven great opportunities to meet new people.
Withdrawing from the centre is only a small ascent away, and the panorama that greets those who reach the Chalet of the Mount is hard to beat. It is the perfect spot from which to watch the beautiful autumn colours sweep away the rather intense summer humidity. The Lac aux Castors is my favourite temporary escape to luscious green and orange, and sunrise in particular is worth the early morning sacrifice.
Lac aux Castors
Sunrise from the Chalet du Mont-Royal
My LL.M. studies are everything that I could have hoped for. Work on my thesis is proceeding smoothly under the aegis of my fabulous supervisor. Elective courses give me enormous freedom to choose topics on which to write papers, and current projects include a study of tort theory and the political philosophy of John Rawls, an examination of judicial independence in arbitration law, and an application of civil law scholarship on property law to common law systems.
McGill really is a unique place in which to study law. Its ‘transsystemic’ undergraduate programme sets the tone for the Faculty in general; there is full academic integration between civil and common law approaches. As a bilingual university in a civil law province, in an otherwise common law country, this is the perfect vantage point from which to study private law. This is not to mention insights from aboriginal law and title, in addition to customary law, international law, and legal theory more generally.
Visiting the Québec Court of Appeal
The Canadian legal world has provided me with a host of other opportunities. Not only do I work as a research assistant, but I am in the process of becoming affiliated with McGill’s Paul-André Crepeau Centre for Private and Comparative Law. The Law faculty has also presented me the Colin Macdonald Award to assist my thesis research. I also had the honour of meeting The Honourable Russell Brown, Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, at an event in Ottawa. He was kind enough to allow me to have a photo taken with him.
Parliament Hill, Ottawa
Left to right: Brian Bird (DCL student at McGill), Justice Russell Brown, Daniel Judd
Overall the first two months have been both exciting and productive. I really cannot imagine doing anything else. Of course, none of this would be possible without the generous and continued support of the Canada Memorial Foundation and their Board of Trustees, to whom I remain very grateful indeed.