Thursday, December 11, 2008

McGill's Thomson House struggling

McGill's famous (at least to me) Thomson house is having financial difficulty and is restructuring, according to an article in the McGill Daily.

For those not familiar, Thomson House is the grad centre for McGill, a lovely old Montreal home converted into a luxurious private club for grad students.

As an undergrad I used to gain entry by getting "signed in" as a guest of my friend, a fellow QPIRG staffer doing her MA at McGill.

I look back nostalgically on the beautiful wainscotting, small cozy rooms, the gorgeous ball room upstairs (used for dances and movie screenings) and the dingy basement caf ($3.99 dinner! -- ok it was prego pasta sauce on spaghetti), and in truth it is my dream to bring more of that cozy, club like, atmosphere to the Halpern Centre. Without the Prego on spaghetti or sign in sheet.

We have achieved some of this in our renovation by making the smaller "David Clode Room" a grad student hangout centred around the fireplace, and we are currently purchasing some new furnishing (booths!) for the large room in the restaurant. Also, we finally have some art back on the walls after many trips to the Maltwood where their patient staff let us comb through their offerings looking for just the right thing.

Today, I am fascinated by the story because I, too, deal with housing a restaurant within a grad students' non profit, and trying to find the best way to structure everything to make sure its not too expensive, it feels like grad students' own space, and we don't lose a ton of money! The world is not designed for businesses who aim to make things both high quality at a low cost for members, and running a bar is a risk for anyone, not less for a non profit student government. Those who attend our AGM's have heard me and executive members speak about the tough times we had a few years ago, and also know we have managed to rebuild financially, although we are always nervously watching the books... but I have no doubt McGill's PGSS will rebuild as well--Thomson house is too good to lose!--and I wish them luck with all the work ahead!

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