Janna Boutilier, Wickwire Bursary recipient

Over the past 15 years, more than 1,500 Dalhousie engineering students have received financial aid thanks to the tenacity of a woman they’ve probably never heard of: Susan Cox Wickwire.

Almost a century ago, Susan found herself a young widow raising four young sons on her own, after losing
her husband to the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. A teacher before starting her family, she believed deeply in the value of education and was determined her boys – Chalmers, John, Lloyd and Lawrence – would have the opportunity to pursue higher education and professional careers.

Susan scrimped and saved – and even opened an ice cream parlour in the front room of her Milford Station, NS home to help save for her sons’ education. Penny by penny, she built a fund to make her dream come true.

Each of her boys attended Dalhousie University. Although Susan helped as much as she could, the Wickwire brothers struggled. Lawrence recalled how he nearly failed a final exam because he hadn’t eaten for two days and found it hard to concentrate.

A dream come true

The Wickwire story is one of dreams, struggles and achievements. Susan singlehandedly raised and educated four sons in a time when post-secondary education was rare. They each graduated from Dalhousie: Chalmers became a teacher, John a physician and Lloyd and Lawrence prospered as engineers.

Lloyd never forgot their struggles, or his mother’s support. Some 70 years after his graduation, he established the Susan (Cox) Wickwire bursary in her honour. He also left a generous gift to Dalhousie in his will to establish the Lloyd Hopkins Wickwire Bursary.

The dream lives on

After Lloyd passed away in 2000, his bequest began providing bursaries to engineering students in financial need who have successfully completed their first year of studies.

Thanks to Lloyd’s generosity, Susan continues to encourage a new generation to pursue higher education. Together, they embody all that is best about Dalhousie University – a determination to succeed, a gratitude for opportunities and a desire to give back. And they make Dalhousie a place where academics, citizenship and philanthropy create true human excellence.