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Seagram Museum collection of photographs and audiovisual material

Creation: 1732-2003 Creation: Majority of material found within 1950-1986
Accession: 2000-202


The Seagram Museum collected and exhibited materials related to the history of distilling wine and spirits from 1984 to 1997. Seagram Museum collection of graphics and audiovisual material contains images, moving images, and sound recordings of the Bronfman family, company personnel, properties, plants, products, advertisements, special events, annual reports, Distillations magazine, Seagram Collection of Paintings Tour, company profiles, company philanthropy, Bronfman family philanthropy, and personnel profiles.


  • Creation: 1732-2003
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1950-1986



84 Linear Feet

General Physical Description

approximately 14,000 black and white photographs, 830 black and white proof sheets, 2950 strips or individual black and white negatives, 85 black and white slides, 2 black and white transparencies, 19 black and white postcards, 260 black and white photocopies, 4500 color photographs, 310 color proof sheets, 3020 color slides, 1210 color transparencies, 2260 color negatives, 26 hand colored photographs, 2 color photocopies, 34 color postcards, 8 sketches, 16 newspaper articles, and 90 cyanotypes. 56 videocassettes (VHS). 18 videocassettes (U-Matic). 25 videocassettes (Betacam SP). 63 sound tape reels. 11 sound cassettes : analog. 19 sound microcassettes : analog. 14 sound discs : analog. 57 reels : sd., col., 16mm. 6 reels : si., b&w ; 16mm. 17 reels : sd., b&w ; 16mm. 5 reels : internegative : col. ; 16mm. 7 reels : si., col. ; 16mm. 2 reels : final mix, sd. ; 16mm. 2 reels : magnetic track, sd. ; 16mm. 1 reel (500 ft.) negative with mag. sound. 1 reel (500 ft.) negative : sd., b&w ; 16mm. 1 reel (500 ft.) optical print : sd. ; 16mm. 6 reels : col. ; 35mm. 1 reel : Super8.

Historical Note

The Seagram Museum collected and exhibited materials related to the history of distilling wine and spirits from 1984 to 1997.

The Seagram Museum was built on the site of the original Joseph E. Seagram distillery in Waterloo, Ontario, which was purchased by the Bronfman family in 1927. Opened May 16, 1984, the museum was the vision of Charles Bronfman, Co-Chairman of the Board of The Seagram Company, Ltd. Plans for the museum were announced in January, 1981 and construction began that spring. Architects for the building, which adapted a late 19th century rack warehouse, were Barton Myers Associates. The entire project was overseen by Peter Swann, “consultant to Seagram on matters of culture and the arts.” Swann later became the museum's first director.

The Seagram Museum was conceived to serve four goals. First, to preserve historic distillery buildings dating to the 1890s. Second, to make a social, cultural, and economic contribution at the regional and national levels. Third, to interpret the history of distilling, and the company. And fourth, to create a centralized archive of the company and distilling industry. Once in operation, the museum was “devoted to the history and technology of wine and spirits” and interpreted the history of The Seagram Company, the distilling industry and related industries. In addition to developing their collections, the museum mounted temporary and permanent exhibits, and hosted many special events and celebrations.

On March 27, 1997, the Seagram Museum closed. In 1998, the City of Waterloo purchased the museum building and portions of the Seagram distillery complex for $4 million. Today the former museum houses the Waterloo Maple, a software development company that is part of Canada's booming “technology triangle”.

Scope and Content

Seagram Museum collection of graphics and audiovisual material contains images of the Bronfman family, company personnel, properties, plants, products, advertisements, special events, annual reports, Distillations magazine, Seagram Collection of Paintings Tour, company profiles, company philanthropy, Bronfman family philanthropy, and personnel profiles.

This collection is organized into thirteen series: Chronological photographic file; People; Real estate; Marketing; Public Relations; Annual Reports; Corporate social functions and events; Bronfman family philanthropy; Travel photographs; Slides; Video; Audio; and Film.

The Chronological photographic file series were amassed and arranged in chronological order by the Seagram Museum. These images date from 1886 to 1981 and depict a variety of subjects including paintings from the museum’s collection, Bronfman family members, employees individual and group portraits, meetings, events, manufacturing plants, equipment and machinery; and product packaging and labels. The transparencies, negatives and photographs are arranged numerically by the image’s assigned photograph number which begins with a two digit year and is followed by a forward-slash and four numbers.

There is a card catalog subject index which provides further description. The subject index is arranged in alphabetical order only (therefore the subject index is numerically out of sequence). The subjects within each number range have been listed below as they appear in the subject index.

The People series is divided into two subseries: the Bronfman family and Company personnel.

The Bronfman family subseries consists of images of Seagram company owner Samuel Bronfman, his wife Saiyde, their children, Minda de Gunzberg, Phyllis Lambert, Edgar Bronfman, Sr. and Charles Rosner Bronfman. Samuel Bronfman’s brothers Harry and Abe, and Abe’s son Allan are also pictured. The majority of the photographs are of Samuel Bronfman and Charles Rosner Bronfman and date from 1900 to 1982. There are many individual portraits, events, trips, and albums of birthday parties.

The Company personnel subseries includes images of employee’s birthday parties, retirement parties, and work anniversaries between 1944 and 1982. This series is arranged in alphabetical order.

The Real estate series is divided into seven subseries: United States plants, United States, combined or unspecified plants, Canadian plants, International plants, Other properties, Manufacturing and machinery, and Winemaking. These photographs have been arranged in alphabetical order and date from 1880 to 1988. The images consists of aerials, exteriors of buildings, plant interiors, machinery, shops, barrel assembly, cooperage, employees, packaging, and bottling.

The Marketing series is divided into six subseries: Bottles and packaging, Labels, Exhibits and store displays, Magazine advertisements, Outdoor Advertisements, and Advertising stills. These subseries are arranged alphabetically. Brands that are represented heavily in this series are Antique Bourbon, Calvert, Chivas, Four Roses, Paul Masson, and Seagram’s V.O., however, there are numerous other brands included. The materials in this series date from 1902 to 1990, but the bulk of the materials date from 1950 to 1982.

The Public Relations series is divided into six subseries: Corporate Philanthropy, Distillations, Seagram Collection of Paintings Tour, Company profiles/company histories, Personnel profiles, and Seagram Museum. All subseries are arranged alphabetically except for Distillations which is arranged chronologically.

The Corporate philanthropy subseries are photographs of awards or events sponsored by the Seagram Company between 1941 and 1988.

Distillations was the Seagram Company magazine. This subseries includes images that were taken for potential use in the magazine, however, not all images were used in the final product. The dating system is based on when the photographs were considered or used for the issues and does not reflect when they were actually taken. The dates range from 1972 to 1982. Images are arranged by issue (month or season).

Seagram Collection of Paintings Tour consists of images of the exhibit on tour in different countries. The collection of paintings were commissioned by Seagram of various Canadian cities toured a number of cities around the world in 1953 and 1954. These events attracted the attention of kings and queens, ambassadors, presidents, celebrities, and dignitaries of the countries visited on the tour. The photographs document the opening ceremonies in each city; people viewing the collection; and speeches made at the opening.

Company profiles/company histories subseries are images of distilleries and vineyards buildings and facilities, both interiors and exteriors, employees, product labels and packaging. A majority of the images are of Bersano Antico Podere Conti, della Cremosina S.p.A., G. H. Mumm & Co., House of Sandeman and Seagram Distillers Company. These images date from 1732 to 1985, however, the bulk of the materials were created between 1970 and 1980.

Personnel profiles subseries are press releases about employee appointments and photographs of employees. These images date from 1948 to 1986 and are arranged alphabetically.

Seagram Museum subseries includes images of artifacts, documents, and paintings that were in the museum’s collections and date from 1860 to 1990. The artifacts are bottles, corkscrews, containers, advertisements, labels, stills, distilleries and images of people drinking. There are also photographs of museum exhibits.

Annual reports series contains a photograph catalog and slides of photographs taken for potential use in the company’s annual reports between 1969 and 1973. The images include construction photographs of various plants, and the V.O. story.

Corporate social functions and events series are photographs of various professional events, such as dinners, conferences, conventions, meetings, and award ceremonies between 1935 and 1986. There are also photographs of sporting events such as bowling, curling, golf, polo, and squash. Of note is an album of a visit of the Indian Ambassador to Seagram in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Bronfman family philanthropy series contains photographs from a few events such as the Democratic National Committee, an album of Edgar M. Bronfman as March of Dimes Man of the Year, unveiling of an exhibit of Samuel Bronfman’s collection of miniatures, and a dedication ceremony for a medical facility. There is an album of Bronfman Scholars at New York University from the 1979-1980 academic year and images of Bronfman Planetarium in Winnipeg.

Travel photographs series includes trips to Tel Avivi, Isreal, Torres, Spain, and Toronto, Canada. There are also unidentified landscapes, buildings, plants, machinery, products, and employees. There are images and correspondence related to Princes Dock Liverpool, Albert Dock Vaults and sugar cane cutting. Images date from 1910 to 1985.

Slides series consists of images from annual reports and slide presentations. Images show production, manufacturing, plant construction, events, product labels, quality control, facilities and wine.

The Video series is compiled of approximately 120 videos from the Seagram’s Corporation, dating primarily from 1980 through 1994 in Betacam SP, U-Matic or VHS formats. The collection consists mostly of sales and marketing videos for the company’s many liquor products. Material pertaining to drunk driving and alcoholism, such as videos about Mothers against Drunk Driving and the Alcohol Equivalence program, are included. Several meeting and events from this time period are also documented. This series is arranged alphabetically.

The Audio series consists mainly of recordings of annual meetings and company events dating from 1950 through 1990, on a variety of formats including reels, cassettes, microcassettes and phonograph records. The series contains recordings of various dinners with notable celebrities such as Lorne Greene and Danny Kaye. Of particular note are a collection of phonograph albums from the 1951 60th birthday celebration of Samuel Bronfman, which includes a personal message from General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Rounding out the collection are oral histories of Seagram’s employees conducted by Michael Marrus in the late 1980s to early 1990s. A description of subjects discussed in these interviews is included in this series. This series was arranged alphabetically.

The Film series depicts the production, marketing and sales training for Seagram’s products dating from 1950 until 2003, mainly on 16mm (with a small amount of 35mm and 8mm). Included are various television commercials and a film about the construction of the Seagram Building in New York City (“The Birth of a Building”). The series also contains several accounts of the funeral of Samuel Bronfman as well as considerable footage of the Montreal Expos. Of note are films portraying sports such as curling, skiing, bowling and various Olympic events. A number of the films have been transferred and video versions are included in the series.

Access Restrictions

No restrictions on access; this collection is open for research.

There are no viewing or listening stations for analog audio, video, or film in the reading room. To access this material, please place a digitization request for the item(s).

Film material is located in remote storage. Please contact staff 48 hours in advance of research visit at

Related Material

Seagram Company, Ltd. records (Accession 2126), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

The Seagram Spotlight photograph collection (Accession 1996.310), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

The Seagram Museum's rare book and archival collections reside in the Doris Lewis Rare Book Room in the Porter Library at the University of Waterloo.

The Seagram Museum collections were dispersed to a number of institutions, including The City of Waterloo, Community, Culture and Recreation Services (the major recipient of artifacts), Wilfrid Laurier University (prints, paintings, lithographs and art works on paper), and Brock University (wine-related library, artifacts and historic wine bottles).

Company records were returned to the official repository for the Seagram Company.

Language of Materials


Additional Description


Gift of the Seagram Museum, 1997.

Separated Material

Seagram Museum collection (Accession 2173), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Related Names


Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Seagram Museum collection of photographs and audiovisual material
Lisa Kruczek and Laurie Rizzo
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
Script of description:

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Audiovisual Collections Repository

PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA