Booker Prize-winning author Margaret Atwood has been awarded an honorary degree from a Scottish university.

The Blind Assassin writer was one of four prominent Canadians from the fields of literature, politics, law and business to be honoured by the University of Edinburgh at a ceremony in Toronto yesterday.

Chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Beverley McLachlin; former chairman of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, General John De Chastelain; and investment banker Garret Herman also received honorary degrees.

The ceremony was part of a series of events being held to coincide with the university's general council meeting in the Canadian city.

The programme has included a debate on the forthcoming Scottish independence referendum, and a formal memorandum of understanding between the universities of Edinburgh and Toronto was also signed.

Edinburgh University principal and vice-chancellor Professor Sir Timothy O'Shea said: "The University of Edinburgh has very strong ties with Canada, and I am delighted that we have been able to celebrate these not only by holding the general council meeting in Toronto, but also by recognising the work of these honorary graduates."

The university is currently home to 450 Canadian undergraduate and postgraduate students. Notable graduates include Sir Charles Tupper, the sixth Prime Minister of Canada and Andrew Fernando Holmes, one of the founders of the Montreal Medical Institution.