Accession GA104A - Joseph E. Seagram and Sons, Ltd. fonds.

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Joseph E. Seagram and Sons, Ltd. fonds.

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Physical description

2.5 m of textual records and other material

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Administrative history

In 1857 William Hespeler, a merchant, and George Randall, a contractor, built what was known as Granite Mills in Waterloo, Ontario. A susidiary to the mill was a small distillery known as the Waterloo Distillery. The business also included a dry goods store. In 1863 Hespeler and Randall took in William Roos, and in 1864 William Hespeler went abroad, hiring young Joseph Emm Seagram to look after his interests. By 1870 Seagram had bought out Hespeler's interests and the company name became "George Randall and Company."

In 1878 Seagram bought out Randall, and he, Seagram. and Roos operated as "Randall and Company" until 1881 when they changed the name to "Seagram and Roos." 1883 Seagram bought out Roos and became the sole proprietor, changing the company name to "Joseph Seagram Flour Mill and Distillery Company." Seagram incorporated the company in 1911, changing the name to "Joseph E. Seagram and Sons, Limited." By 1919 when Seagram died, he had built his Waterloo distillery into a major exporting company and his brand names were widely known. In 1928 the Bronfman family acquired the distillery and amalgamated it with their company, Distillers Corporation Limited.

Custodial history

The records in this fonds were acquired from disparate sources, from individuals and offices, and as such do not represent a record of ongoing business or operational activity of The Seagram Company or even of the Waterloo plant, but rather represent the efforts of the Seagram Museum to gather both the remaining records of the plant and information about the plant in one place.

Scope and content

This fonds contains originals and copies of correspondence, legal instruments, licenses, manuscripts, photographs, ephemera, plans, reports, and topical files relating to the early history of the Seagram Company to 1911, and from its incorporation in 1911 to 1928, when it was purchased by the Bronfman family. The records of Joseph E. Seagram and Sons, Ltd., actually stretch beyond the 1928 date, as many records emanate from the Waterloo plant and document certain of its activities to the 1950's and 1960's. The sousfonds contains information about the incorporation of the company under its various names, on imports and exports of alcohol to and from the plant, on registration of labels, and on subsidiary operations such as feed stuffs. It also includes information about the distillery site itself, in the form of topical files, reports, plans and photographs. Information on local history is also present, as the Seagram family and company figured largely in local business, political and social circles.

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Physical condition

Includes ca. 1465 photographs, 1 film, 1 artifact.

Immediate source of acquisition

Donated in 1997 by the Seagram Museum and the Seagram Company


Arranged in 5 series with subseries:

  • 1. Joseph E. Seagram (to 1911);
  • 2.1. Joseph E. Seagram and Sons Ltd.: Incorporation and Ownership;
  • 2.2. Operations, General;
  • 2.3. Operations, Waterloo Plant;
  • 2.4. Site Records, Waterloo Plant;
  • 2.5. Topical;
  • 2.6. Ephemera;
  • 3. Photographs;
  • 4. Audiovisual;
  • 5. Artifacts.

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Associated materials

The Seagram Museum collections were dispersed to a number of institutions, including The City of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, and Brock University in St. Catharines. The archives of The Seagram Company after 1928 are housed at the Hagley Museum, Wilmington, Delaware, as are the Bronfman Family papers.

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Accompanying material

This is part of a donation that included ca.1200 books as well, which are housed in the Doris Lewis Rare Book.

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Sousfonds seperated into fonds in 2014. Sousfonds 3 & 4 merged to one fonds. Other levels of description remain unchanged.

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