McGill and Concordia have the perfect ingredients for a legendary rivalry: Close proximity, a shared language, sports programs, and bright students. Both universities’ students appreciate the struggle of attending competitive anglophone institutions in a bilingual city, Montreal’s wonderfully cheap rent, and the survival techniques to weather harsh, long winters. Despite these similarities, students choose to focus on the universities’ differences, particularly in academics and athletics, to create a competitive atmosphere.
Each university offers something distinct—McGill, founded in 1821, is a well-established institution with a prestigious history, while Concordia, founded in 1974, focuses on innovation and creativity within its student body. Concordia hosts a greater number of arts-oriented programs such as journalism, painting and drawing, and sculpture—none of which McGill offers. McGill, meanwhile, spreads its attention around faculties to a higher degree than Concordia. To Chris Liang, McGill U3 Arts, the difference in academic offerings—not some great disparity in intelligence—helps explain why some students end up at McGill while others choose Concordia.
“McGill students continue to put that higher standard on Concordia kids and label them as ‘stupid,’” Liang said. “But, at the end of the day many students choose Concordia over McGill based on the programs they offer.”
The reasons students choose between McGill and Concordia are diverse, but both universities’ environments can influence their students’ views and perspectives in the long-run. Antony Dagger, former Concordia student and current 102.3FM radio host, produced two videos that asked McGill and Concordia students the same questions and observed their responses. In one question, “Would you rather have $100,000 or a 4.0 GPA?” McGill students unanimously chose the perfect GPA, rationalizing that academic success would hopefully lead to an income of more than $100,000, while most Concordia students chose the $100,000. Dagger took note of the different approaches the two student bodies took in answering.
“At McGill, [students] took two minutes to think about it. At Concordia, they didn’t care, they would rather just have the $100,000,” Dagger said.
In the realm of sports, meanwhile, Concordia has a clear advantage. For the past few years, McGill has consistently lost the Shaughnessy Cup to Concordia, a trophy awarded to the winner of the annual football game. Meanwhile, men and women’s ice hockey results have been less decisive. Some sports have even leaned McGill’s way. With stadiums only miles apart, the Martlets and Redmen usually get to play in front of their biggest crowds when facing the Concordia Stingers.
The McGill-Concordia rivalry is all about identity. According to Dagger, this feeling of individuality allows students to feel a sense of attachment to their respective universities.
“At the end of the day, students just want to be proud to be a part of their schools,” Dagger said.
Such pride makes students competitive beyond the classroom and the sports field.
“The rivalry will continue to persist, no matter what we challenge each other at,” Liang said. “We are some of the best universities in Montreal and we continuously try to challenge each other in different academic, sports, and social activities, so we will continue to be competitive with them no matter the activity.”
The McGill-Concordia rivalry will continue to persist for generations, as it has since Concordia’s inception 44 years ago. Compared to other rivalries, ours is relatively young—which leaves plenty of room for new tales and traditions.