A Loving Tribute Pays it Forward

Posted: Mar 08, 2023

Photo caption: U of G alumna Margaret Dickenson is a world-renowned cookbook author and TV host who was honoured with two prestigious awards in the Entertaining category at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in 2021.

Larry and Margaret Dickenson lived an extraordinary life together. Perfect partners in Larry’s diplomatic career, as well as Margaret’s award-winning cookbook and lifestyle businesses, theirs was a purposeful, fascinating, and heartwarming love story.

The soulmates met at the University of Guelph – both students were late for their first class on their first day. “I had duties as the Canadian Dairy Princess, and Larry had responsibilities related to the Junior Farmers,” reminisces Margaret. “I guess being late together was one way to notice and be noticed.”

That same night, fate put the young students together again – meeting in a dinner line-up at Creelman Hall, Margaret and Larry began talking. “And we never stopped,” recalls Margaret. “Larry was a very special person,” she says, with the warm, simple conviction that only a true soulmate can channel.

Their love story continued for more than 50 years. Working in Canada’s foreign service, Larry’s career took him and his family to Vienna, Belgrade, Moscow, Brussels, Cairo, Seoul, Kuwait, and Jakarta. During his final assignments, he was Canada’s Ambassador to Kuwait, (including Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman) and after, to Indonesia.

With a lifetime of learning from decades of diplomacy, Larry and Margaret gained a keen understanding of worldly similarities as well as differences while they navigated the government, culture, and social norms of multiple exotic places. As Larry’s partner, Margaret honed her cooking, lifestyle, and hosting skills on the world stage, and later created a business based on her multi-international award-winning cookbooks (From the Ambassador’s Table and Margaret’s Table) and a variety of memorable lifestyle television series (margaretstable.ca) – her devoted husband was her photographer, consulting partner, and number one fan.

Larry Dickenson passed away in 2018, but Margaret feels blessed by their long and happy marriage, a remarkable professional partnership, and their loving family of children and grandchildren. She honours the memory of her beloved husband by continuing her professional responsibilities and charity work, tenderly maintaining his exquisite garden, and creating a meaningful scholarship that reflects the international scope of his diplomatic career.

The Larry and Margaret Dickenson Scholarship in International Development is awarded each year to one Bachelor of Arts student majoring in International Development Studies, who also has related volunteer experience.

Hailey Budway was the 2021 recipient of the Larry and Margaret Dickenson Scholarship, based on her volunteer commitments to UNICEF, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (a UN specialized agency) and her passion for global issues and inequalities. She also demonstrated high academic achievement in her International Development studies.

“The scholarship made a practicum in sustainable agriculture an actual option for me,” says Hailey. “The award paid a huge portion of my tuition, which was critical because I am supporting myself in school. Instead of supplementing summer wages with a loan to survive the semester, I was able to apply to this highly competitive practicum without skipping a beat! It also meant that I could apply to a master’s program right away, instead of waiting for my financial situation to ‘catch up’ – the importance of this scholarship is immeasurable!”

Hailey aspires to develop sustainable agriculture solutions to help food-insecure populations. Her path is inspired by the same pride and duty that propelled Larry and Margaret to the highest levels of their professional careers.

The Dickenson legacy on campus carries on – in 2011, Margaret was chosen Alumna of Honour, one of their grandchildren attends the University of Guelph and another gained early acceptance. Says Margaret, “My granddaughter Sophie mentioned that she had dinner at Creelman Hall, and it took me right back – I could clearly picture Larry leaning against the wall at Creelman on that first chat that lasted a lifetime.”

As their grandchildren make new memories on campus, the Larry and Margaret Dickenson Scholarship will continue to support the noble dreams of University of Guelph students, while it honours the extraordinary life and love of Larry and Margaret.


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