Born in Leeds County, Ontario, the eldest of the four children of James and Muriel Richardson, Agnes Richardson received her early education in Winnipeg and attended Queen's University where, in 1941, she received her B.A. and the Tricolour Award for distinguished service to the University. In 1947 she married the late William Benidickson, then a Member of Parliament and later a federal Minister and Senator, and himself a graduate and benefactor of this University.
These years marked the beginning of what has proved to be a lifetime of public and community service. In Winnipeg she worked as a volunteer with the Canadian Red Cross as the co-chairman of the Prisoner of War Enquiry Bureau. In Ottawa, to which she moved after her marriage, she provided leadership to the Parliamentary Wives' Association, the Ottawa Civil Hospital Auxiliary and the Women's Canadian Club, ultimately serving as President of each. Her continued involvement with the National Association of Canadian Clubs, following a term as national President, has been appreciated by Canadian Clubs across Canada. For many years, beginning in the late 1960s, Agnes Benidickson served as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Canadian Council on Social Development and subsequently served as its President.
Her commitment has also encompassed the arts: she has served as co-chair of the Volunteer Committee of the Conference of Art Museums of the United States and Canada, has served as Honorary President of the Friends of the National Gallery and received an Award of Merit from the Ontario Association of Art Galleries.
For a number of years Agnes Benidickson served on the Board of Trustees of Queen's University. There, in recognition of her contribution to the University and to the wider community, she was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1975 and, in 1980, elected Chancellor, in which ofilce she continues to serve with distinction and universal admiration, having been re-elected this month to a fifth term.
She serves, or has served, on the boards of directors of three major national corporations.
In recognition of her many contributions to Canadian life, she was, in 1987, named to the Order of Canada.
Agnes Benidickson has demonstrated broad interests and broad commitments: health and social services, public affairs, Canada's cultural heritage, higher education and the world of business. To each of these she has brought energy, ability and generosity: she has shown a keen sense of the community's needs and of how they can be met through perseverance and leadership. She has exemplified, to a superlative degree, the enormous contribution of the volunteer in the community; and through that, she has touched the lives of more people than she can possibly know.
For her devotion to the improvement of our common life and for the great power of the example she has provided, Agnes Benidickson has rightly earned the admiration and respect of her compatriots.
Mr. Chancellor, it is an honour for me to ask, in the name of the Senate of The University of Manitoba, that you confer on Agnes McCausland Benidickson, the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
-citation delivered by Arnold Naimark, President, University of Manitoba