What Dal residence building should I pick?

Breaking down your options for living on the Halifax campus.

An image of a posterboard that reads "WELCOME TO RESIDENCE! WE'RE HERE TO HELP YOU FEEL AT HOME." The board is signed by many residence assistants. Residence becomes your home away from home

Choosing a residence is a big decision. It’s the place you’ll call home for eight months, so you want to pick the right one! I lived in residence for two years and worked in residence for three, so I’m pretty familiar with all of the buildings on the Halifax campus. (If you’re interested in learning more about your Agricultural Campus options, check out the Truro residences.)To help you out, I’ll explain the differences between them.

Got questions about how COVID-19 will affect your residence experience? You can visit the Residence Office's Frequently Asked Questions page for answers!


The traditional residences

Risley Hall

Risley Hall is a six-floor, all-gender residence that houses up to 490 students each year. Its washrooms are also all-gender and are shared by the residents of each floor. Inside there's a small meal hall that, when open, is exclusively for students living in Risley and the neighbouring LeMarchant Place. Location-wise, it’s closest to the Student Union Building, the Marion McCain Arts & Social Sciences Building, and the Kenneth C. Rowe Management Building. You can find a video tour here.

Every room in Risley is a single, which has a few benefits. If you’re a private person, you can shut yourself away and enjoy your introvert time. But the lack of roommates can also push you to make friends with your neighbours. Each room also has its own sink, which is a huge perk! Trust me, it’s super nice to brush your teeth in the morning without worrying about what your bedhead looks like.

Risley is where I lived during my first year. In my experience, the privacy of single rooms tends to attract more studious residents. For example, you’ll find a lot of STEM students. However, students of all majors live in the building (I'm getting a BA).

BEST FOR: Introverts, students who are focused on their studies.



Howe Hall

Howe Hall is Dalhousie’s biggest residence, housing up to 716 students in its single and double rooms. The building is broken into six houses, each with its own all-gender and gender-specific shared washrooms. One house, Fountain, has sinks in every room. Howe also has the biggest meal hall on campus! The building is closest to the Killam Memorial Library, the Mona Campbell Building, the Sir James Dunn Building, and the Chemistry Building. Click here to watch a video tour.

I would say that living in Howe gives you the most opportunities to make friends. It’s Dal’s largest residence, so you’ll have plenty of chances to meet new people from all over! Pro tip: regardless of which residence you apply for, if you know for sure that you need absolute silence to get your work done, I recommend asking for a room on a quiet floor in your residence application!

Depending on the year, Howe Hall is also where you’ll find the ResLife Learning Communities (RLLC) for Medical Sciences, first-year Engineering, and Ocean Sciences. 

BEST FOR: Extroverts, people looking to make new friends, people interested in RLLCs.



Shirreff Hall

Shirreff Hall, built in 1923, is the oldest residence on campus. Up to 440 students live in the building’s three houses. There are single and double rooms, and washrooms are shared by floors. Most rooms in the New Eddy and Newcombe Houses have sinks. As with Howe Hall, there will be no double rooms available next year. This video gives you a virtual walkthrough of the building. Shirreff was an exclusively female residence until 2005, and Newcombe House is still female-only. The building is closest to the Life Sciences Centre and the Dalplex, which makes it popular for athletes!

Shirreff Hall is a residence filled with history. For example, in 1919, the Prince of Wales laid the cornerstone of the building. In my opinion, Shirreff is the prettiest residence building. It has a Victorian lounge with a piano, as well as its own library. Many students who walk through the meal hall even compare it to Hogwarts! This meal hall is also unofficially considered to be the best one on campus.

Shirreff is seen as the “artsiest” residence, even though students from all faculties live in the building. It’s also home to the Leaders in Action RLLC (when it's active).

BEST FOR: Artsy folk, athletes, women looking for a female-only residence, people who thrive off aesthetics.



LeMarchant Place

LeMarchant Place, also known as LMP, is Dalhousie’s newest residence building. It’s home to up to 326 students during the school year. The rooms in LMP come in two forms: single rooms that pair off with shared adjoining bathrooms, and apartment-style suites with 2, 3, and 4 bedrooms. No individual suites have full kitchens, but the 3- and 4-bedroom suites have kitchenettes, and a full common kitchen is available on every floor. In a regular year, LMP residents also have exclusive access to the Risley meal hall across the street. The building is closest to the Marion McCain Arts and Social Sciences Building, the Student Union Building, and the Killam Memorial Library, and looks out over Wickwire Field.

I worked at the LMP front desk for three years, so I’m quite familiar with the building. Its sleek and modern design (witness it yourself!) makes it beautiful in a different way from Shirreff Hall. Most residents are upper-year or transfer students, so the building tends to be less social than predominately first-year residences. There's also a strong international student presence in LMP. This makes sense, as the residence is technically in the same building as the International Centre! The building also houses the Student Health & Wellness Centre, so you don't have to go far for a doctor's appointment.

BEST FOR: Transfer and returning students, international students, introverts.



BONUS: The unique options

Glengary Apartments

Glengary Apartments is a small residence that accommodates up to 40 students. The building contains 12 three-bedroom apartments and 4 bachelor apartments, each with their own kitchen and bathroom. It's a non-traditional residence, so there are no residence assistants or mandatory meal plans. Glengary is closest to the Goldberg Computer Science Building and the Sir James Dunn Law Library, and it's Dalhousie’s closest residence to the Carleton campus. I personally would not recommend this building for first-year students unless their primary campus is Carleton.

BEST FOR: Upper-year students, students in the Faculties of Medicine, Dentistry and Health.



Mini Res

Mini Res is Dalhousie’s most unique residence. Up to 45 students live in its three all-gender houses, which are connected by a courtyard. Inside are single rooms and shared single-use washrooms. Some houses have kitchenettes, while others have full kitchens. Regardless, students are required to have a meal plan (the nearest meal hall is in Howe). Mini Res is closest to the Sir James Dunn Law Library, the Arts Centre, the Kenneth C. Rowe Management Building, and the Goldberg Computer Science Building. This residence has an off-campus feel, but you’re still supported by residence assistants.

BEST FOR: People who want a tight-knit living environment, people who want to live more independently.


For more information on your residence options, check out Dal's residence website and follow @DalResidence on Instagram.