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Edward Bronfman; owned Canadiens, Labatt Beer

TORONTO -- Edward Bronfman, who along with his brother, Peter, built one of Canada's largest business empires, which included the NHL's Montreal Canadiens and Labatt beer, has died. He was 77.

A spokeswoman for Brascan Corp., the successor conglomerate to the enterprise created by the Bronfman brothers, confirmed his death Monday.

The business empire built by Peter and Edward Bronfman was an intricate web of companies -- anchored by holding companies Edper Group and Hees International Bancorp. -- with assets worth tens of billions of dollars at its peak.

Its holdings ranged from London Life, Royal Trust, and real estate broker Royal LePage to developer Bramalea and forest company MacMillan Bloedel.

Edward Bronfman also was well known for his charity work.

Bernie Farber, the head of Canadian Jewish Congress, called Mr. Bronfman one of the Jewish community's most treasured philanthropists.

''I've known Edward a long time. He was down to earth, kind, gentle," Farber said. ''Although he was clearly a man of great means, he was just one of the people. It's the best way I can put it. He was just a really fine, fine human being, and it's a great loss."

Edward Bronfman was less involved in running the businesses than his younger brother. He was deputy chairman of the board, but sold about a quarter of his shares in Edper.

A graduate in business administration from Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., he enjoyed running and skiing.

He was a director of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews and the Canadian Council for Native Business.

Mr. Bronfman led fund-raising efforts ranging from a sports center in northern Israel to the Edward Bronfman Family Foundation Research Clinic in Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis in Toronto.

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