Christopher Plummer was never a McGill student, but his family has several connections to the Montreal university. ((CP))

Actor Christopher Plummer is to receive an honorary degree on Thursday from McGill University in Montreal.

He'll be named a doctor of letters in recognition of his 50-year career on the classical stage and in major motion pictures.

Plummer is one of 17 people, including writer Nancy Huston and violinist Ida Haendel, receiving honorary degrees at the Montreal university.

Plummer, considered one of world's great Shakespearean actors, is also known for portraying Captain von Trapp in the film version of The Sound of Music.

He was never a McGill student, but his great-great-grandfather and his great-grandfather both were senior administrators at McGill and his mother worked at McGill in the 1930s. Plummeralso had a great-aunt who was one of the first women to graduate from McGill.

Now 76, heis in the middle of shooting a Richard Attenborough film called Closing the Ring.

Huston, author of20 books including Les Variations Goldberg and Plainsong, is receiving a doctor of letters.

Haendel, who was a child violin prodigy before going on to play around the world, will be given a doctor of music degree.

Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi, an architect who worked with celebrated Swiss architect Le Corbusier in Paris and established the Vastu-Shilpa Foundation for Studies and Research in Environmental Design is receiving a doctor of science.

Scientist Ursula Franklin, diplomat Louise Fréchette and Ontario Lt.-Gov. James Bartleman also will receive honorary degrees.