Charles Bronfman

Charles Bronfman is a Canadian businessman and philanthropist who is best known as the former co-chairman of Seagram Company Ltd., one of the world’s largest alcoholic beverage companies. He is also the founder and chairman of The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, which supports initiatives in the areas of heritage, social justice, and Jewish life.

Early life

Born in Montreal, Charles Bronfman grew up in a Jewish family with his parents, Samuel Bronfman and Saidye Rosner Bronfman, and his two older sisters, art patron Baroness Aileen “Minda” Bronfman de Gunzberg and architecture expert and developer Phyllis Lambert. His older brother, Edgar Bronfman, Sr., was also a co-chair of Seagram, the company where Charles eventually served as co-chair alongside Edgar.

Bronfman received his education at Selwyn House School in Montreal, Trinity College School in Port Hope, Ontario, and McGill University. Although he considers himself Canadian at heart, Bronfman sought dual citizenship to be able to vote in the United States.

From 1951 to 2000, Bronfman held various positions within the family’s liquor empire, Seagram. In 1951, his father Samuel Bronfman granted Charles a 33% ownership stake in Cemp Investments, a holding company for Charles and his three siblings, which controlled the family’s corporate empire, including billions of dollars in liquor, real estate, oil and gas, and chemical companies, under the leadership of Charles and his brother Edgar.

Following the death of their father in 1971, Charles and Edgar inherited the Seagram spirits empire, and Charles went on to serve as co-chairman of Seagram Company Ltd.


At the age of 25, Bronfman began working for his father’s company and was soon appointed to the board of directors. He started as a trainee in Seagram’s Montreal plant and gradually worked his way up in the company. In 1971, after the death of Samuel Bronfman, Charles and his brother Edgar inherited control of Seagram and continued to run the company until its demise in the early 2000s.

During their tenure, Charles and Edgar expanded the Seagram empire and diversified its holdings, making it one of the most successful companies in Canada.

In addition to his work with Seagram and philanthropy, Bronfman is also the chairman of Cemp Investments, a private investment firm that he founded in 1971. Cemp Investments has invested in a variety of industries, including technology, real estate, and healthcare.

Cemp Investments is a Canadian holding company that was established by the Bronfman family in 1951. The company’s name is an acronym for the first initials of Samuel Bronfman’s four children – Charles, Edgar, Phyllis, and Minda. The company was used to control the family’s corporate empire, which included Seagram, as well as other businesses in real estate, oil and gas, and chemicals.

Under the leadership of Charles and his brother Edgar, Cemp Investments became one of the largest and most successful companies in Canada, controlling billions of dollars in assets. The company was involved in a variety of industries, including liquor, entertainment, and sports. In addition to owning Seagram, Cemp Investments also held ownership stakes in Major League Baseball’s Montreal Expos, the Montreal Canadiens hockey team, and the Montreal Alouettes football team

After the demise of Seagram in the early 2000s, the Bronfman family dissolved Cemp Investments, with Charles and Edgar dividing up the assets. Charles went on to focus on philanthropic work through The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, Inc., which he co-founded with his wife Andrea in 1986.

Bronfman has been recognized for his philanthropic work and has received numerous awards and honors throughout his career. He was awarded the Order of Canada in 1992 and has also been inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.

In addition to his business ventures, Charles Bronfman was also recognized for his involvement in professional sports. He served as the majority owner of the Montreal Expos, a Major League Baseball team, from the team’s formation in 1968 until 1991, when he sold the franchise for $100 million CAD to a consortium of local investors led by Claude Brochu on November 29, 1990. The sale was finalized 6 and a half months later on June 14, 1991.

Bronfman also attempted to start a new football franchise, the Montreal Concordes, in 1982 by purchasing the remains of the bankrupt Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. However, the team folded prior to the start of the 1987 CFL season despite later rebranding as the Alouettes.

Overall, Charles Bronfman has made significant contributions to both the business world and philanthropy, and his work with Cemp Investments and The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies has had a positive impact on many individuals and communities.

Net Worth

His net worth is an estimated $2.5 billion.


Charles Bronfman has received numerous awards and honors for his achievements in various fields. Here are some of them:

In 1991, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada, which is the second-highest civilian honor in Canada.
In 2002, he was awarded the Canadian version of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal for his philanthropic work.
In 2005, he received the UJA Federation of New York's Steven J. Ross Humanitarian Award.
In 2009, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Canadian Club of Toronto.
In 2013, he was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for his contributions to the Montreal Expos.
In 2015, he was awarded the Jewish National Fund's Tree of Life Award for his philanthropic work.
In 2016, he received the Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Quebec Chapter.

In addition to these awards, Bronfman’s philanthropic work has been recognized by various organizations, and he has served on the boards of numerous charitable foundations and organizations.