The University and the City
McMaster University was founded as a Baptist institution by Senator William McMaster in Toronto in 1887. It moved to Hamilton in 1930 and later became a non-denominational private institution. Over the hundred years of its existence, it has developed into one of Canada's leading universities.
McMaster is a medium-sized university with a faculty and staff of approximately 3,300 and an enrollment of around 17,000 full-time students, of which approximately 2,000 are graduate students. This is a large graduate enrollment for an institution of its size, and reflects a deliberate emphasis on research and graduate education. McMaster offers the Ph.D. degree in 30 programmes, and also has a Medical School with a teaching hospital on campus. The University enjoys a strong reputation among Canadian and American institutions for its competence in the Natural Sciences, its extensive and modern facilities for graduate study and research, and for its faculty, which receives among the highest per capita peer-assessed research funding in Canada.
The University offers a wide range of social, artistic and athletic activities. All graduate students are members of the Graduate Student Association (GSA), which organizes social events and information sessions from its base in Wentworth House. The GSA runs The Phoenix, one of the three pubs on campus, as well as organizing coffee houses, inter-departmental sports leagues, and generally serving as a meeting point. Many physics graduate students, and even some of our faculty members, participate in the softball league. In the winter, a number of graduate students and faculty also play on a non-competitive hockey team. The University as a whole has excellent athletic facilities: an Olympic-sized swimming pool, several gymnasiums, squash courts, tennis courts, and an all-weather track. It also presents many performance series such as the classical concerts given in Convocation Hall, some by visiting performers, others by the university's resident artists. Annual dramatic and dance series in Robinson Memorial Theatre include productions by campus groups and by touring companies. Popular music concerts organized by the Student Union are held in the main gymnasium of the Physical Education Complex.
The city of Hamilton, a municipality of more than 500,000 persons, is located on the western tip of Lake Ontario with Metropolitan Toronto seventy kilometers to the north-east, and Niagara Falls eighty kilometers to the south-east. Hamilton is well-known for its steel mills, and accounts for more than 50% of all Canadian steel production. Much less widely known and appreciated is the other side of Hamilton. The west end of Hamilton, where the University is situated, lies at the edge of a large region of development and high population density centred on Toronto. A short bicycle ride further west from the University, the landscape opens up to rural lands that provide many opportunities for hiking, cross-country skiing, camping and other recreational pursuits. Large tracts of parkland, wilderness and marshland in the area are managed by the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Hamilton Region Conservation Authority and Niagara Escarpment Commission. The Niagara Escarpment is a prominent geological feature which extends from upstate New York through Niagara Falls and Hamilton to Lake Huron and the Upper Michigan Peninsula. A four-hundred-mile-long hiking trail known as the Bruce Trail that follows the Niagara Escarpment from Niagara to the Bruce Peninsula runs right through the centre of Hamilton and past McMaster University.
The University itself is surrounded on the north by Cootes Paradise, a wildlife sanctuary, but is only a 10 minute drive from the downtown area where, in addition to shops, hotels, cinemas and an outdoor skating rink, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Hamilton Place, the Farmers' Market and Copps Coliseum are located. Hamilton Place has a very attractive concert hall where local presentations and famous touring groups perform on a regular basis and Opera Hamilton puts on three operas each year. Hamilton has a very active arts community which includes the New Philharmonic Orchestra, Symphony Hamilton, the Bach Elgar Choir and Theatre Aquarius, as well as many other local theatre groups and choirs.