Saidye Rosner Bronfman

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Saidye Rosner Bronfman (1897–1995), was the matriarch of the wealthy Bronfman family. Her husband, Samuel Bronfman (1891–1971), founded the Seagram Company and the family took a leading role in the Canadian-Jewish community.[1]

Early life[edit]

Saidye Bronfman was born in Plum Coulee, Manitoba and grew up there and in Winnipeg. Her father, Samuel Rosner (1871–1952), was a successful businessman born in Bessarabia, who later emigrated to England and then to Canada while a teenager. He served as mayor of Plum Coulee for two years.

Her mother, Priscilla Berger Rosner (1876–1951), was a homemaker who was also an immigrant to Canada from Odessa. Saidye married Samuel Bronfman (1891–1971) in 1922 and two years later they moved to Montreal.[2]

Career and philanthropy[edit]

Although Saidye was both born into and married into wealth, she was dedicated to charity. She lived by the principle of noblesse oblige. Prior to her marriage, Bronfman served as president of the Girls’ Auxiliary of the Winnipeg Jewish Orphanage Society and later headed the Orphans’ Home.

Beginning in 1929, she served as president of the Young Women's Hebrew Association in Montreal for six years. She was also the founder and president of the Women’s Division of the Combined Jewish Appeal (1931–1933) and in 1934 was one of the founders of Canadian Youth Aliyah, the Hadassah organization’s program to resettle German-Jewish youngsters in Palestine.[2]

In 1952, her husband Sam, established The Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Family Foundation, one of Canada’s major private granting foundations. The Saidye Bronfman Award was established in 1977 by the foundation to honour her 80th birthday.[3]

This annual award for excellence in the fine crafts is now administered by the Canada Council for the Arts.[4]

The Saidye Bronfman Centre for the Arts was named for her, prior to being renamed the Segal Centre in 2010. The Centre's founding artistic director was Marion Andre (January 12, 1920 – May 10, 2006, Le Havre, France).

Personal life[edit]

Saidye Bronfman had four children with her husband:[2]

  • Aileen Mindel "Minda" Bronfman de Gunzburg (1925–1985);
  • Phyllis Bronfman Lambert (b. 1927) who was the founding director of the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal;
  • Edgar Miles Bronfman (1929-2013) who served as the head of Seagram’s American operations and president of the World Jewish Congress;
  • Charles Rosner Bronfman (b. 1931) who served as the chief of Seagram’s Canadian operations, was the founder of the CRB Charitable Foundation, and was one of the initiators of the Birthright program for young Jewish adults.


  1. ^ Goldsborough, Gordon. "Memorable Manitobans: Samuel Bronfman (1889-1971)". Manitoba Historical Society. Retrieved March 25, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c Jewish Women's Archives; Jewish Women's Encyclopedia: Saidye Rosner Bronfman by Michael Brown retrieved April 3, 2012
  3. ^ "Saidye Bronfman Award". Canadian Museum of History. Retrieved March 25, 2015. 
  4. ^ "About the Awards". Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts. Canada Council of the Arts. Archived from the original on March 16, 2015. Retrieved 25 March 2015. 

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