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Octavius Augustus Seagram and his wife, Amelia Stiles, immigrated to Canada from Wiltshire, England in 1837. They purchased two farms and a tavern in Fisher's Mills, near Galt (now Cambridge, Ontario). The couple had two sons, Joseph Emm, born in 1841, and Edward Frowde, born in 1842. These boys were orphaned in their teens, and lived for six years at Dr. Tassie's boarding school in Galt.
After spending a year at business college in Buffalo, New York, Joseph Seagram returned to Canada, where he worked as a bookkeeper and manager at various mills in Galt and Stratford. In 1864 he went to work for William Hespeler at the Granite Mills in Waterloo, which was to be the foundation of his career as a distiller. In 1869 he married Stephanie Urbs, daughter of Jacob Hespeler's sister Maria, thus connecting himself with some of the most prominent families in the area, such as the Warnocks and Hespelers. In 1850 Adam Warnock, a merchant in Galt, had married Joseph Seagram's wife's aunt, Stephanie Hespeler. His wife's sister Marie had married Canon Bland. Joseph Emm Seagram and his wife Stephanie had five children who lived past infancy. Their four sons were Edward Frowde, 1873-1937, Joseph Hamilton, 1875-195-?, Norman, 1879-1963, and Thomas William, 1887-1965. Their only daughter was Blanche Alexandrine (Adine), 1871-1919, who married G.H. Bowlby, M.D. in 1894.
Joseph Emm Seagram's passion was horse racing. A wealthy man, Seagram advanced horse racing in Canada, establishing it as a popular hobby among the wealthy elite. He imported high-quality breeding stock from the United States and Britain. Horses from the Seagram stables were Queen's Plate Winners for eight consecutive years, beginning in 1891. His horses achieved fifteen plate wins in all. His enthusiasm was shared by his son Edward Frowde and grandson Joseph Edward Frowde who continued the family tradition to the 1970's.
Also active in politics, Joseph Emm Seagram was a Conservative Member of Parliament for Waterloo North during the Liberal years of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. He participated in a variety of local organizations, becoming an influential and respected member of the community. His sons and grandsons continued the tradition of strong local participation in business and civic life, as well as displaying a keen interest in and support of sports, ranging from golf to football to cycling. (200 Years of Tradition: the Story of Canadian Whisky / Lorraine Brown, 1994 and Seagram biographical files.)