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Associated Alumni

Sharing her love of bridge and her passion for helping

Barbara Seagram

Played by millions of people, bridge is one of the world’s most popular card games. Even so, Barbara Seagram (BN’70) never expected that she would fall in love with the game, much less write 25 books and own and operate a school of bridge.

“I sort of just fell into it,” says Ms. Seagram. “After retiring from teaching nursing, I was going to stay home, raise a family and never work again. My mother-in-law at that time sent me for bridge lessons and I loved it. I started working for the local bridge club part-time doing administration and marketing and it just snowballed from there.”

Fifteen years later, Ms. Seagram and her husband bought the club where she worked and grew it to become the largest bridge club in Canada, and the fourth largest in North America. She eventually sold that club and opened the Barbara Seagram School of Bridge which provides seminars, private and group classes, and supervised games to hundreds of beginner, intermediate and seasoned players. Once a month, the school offers drop-in sessions where beginners can play against each other and hone their skills. 

Bridge is a trick-taking card game, using a standard 52-deck of playing cards, and made up of four players. Each hand of bridge is divided into four phases: dealing, bidding for tricks and trumps, playing the hand, and scoring. (Source: Bridge for Dummies).

Ms. Seagram says that bridge can be as easy or challenging as a player wants and what makes the game so attractive is that anyone can play it and every deal is unique.  

“There is something for everyone in the game of bridge. No one ever gets bored with it. The challenge is immense and it is impossible to be perfect at the game. There is a huge margin of error.” 

She adds that a big part, and one of the biggest challenges, of the game of bridge is focus.

“One has to shut out all distractions. Multi-tasking is simply impossible in bridge as there are so many factors to consider on every hand. Thus, the drive to get better is strong in most people.”

Ms. Seagram’s books cover the gamut of topics, from Beginning Bridge to 25 Conventions You Should Know. “The learning never ends,” says Ms. Seagram. “I have been playing bridge for 41 years and I learn something new every time I play. I think this is why I have written so many books on the game of bridge. I want to share what I’ve learned with others.” Her next book, due out next year, is targeted at advanced bridge players and will focus on planning the play of a bridge hand. 

When Ms. Seagram is not teaching bridge classes or writing books on the subject, she’s travelling to various countries around the world, visiting communities and providing resources and offering support to its citizens.

Over the past three decades, Ms. Seagram and her companions have travelled to 164 countries around the world, including Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and South Africa. With each trip they bring something for the children of the communities they visit.

“We have always taken suitcases of useful items everywhere we go and give them out to the children. We have done this for 35 years. Before one of our trips to Cambodia, we heard about a school that was in need of bicycles. We raised money to buy 40 bicycles and handed them out at the school.”

But Ms. Seagram’s outreach extends beyond gifts.

“While we were in Cambodia, we looked at the school and decided that it would fall down in the next high wind so we arranged to build a school, and then we built a second school, and took over two schools that had been built, but had no one to sustain them -- all the while, falling in love with the people of Cambodia, mostly the children.”

Ms. Seagram and her team of family, friends and clients, now sustain four schools in Cambodia and have installed hundreds of water filters in Laos in Southeast Asia. She says that as long as she is able, she will continue to travel and provide support to the people and communities she visits.

“I think my passion for helping all starts with my love for people,” she says. “That is something that will never leave me, and it all started with my nursing degree.”

Even though her schedule is full -- working 18 hour days, planning upcoming trips, writing her next book and devoting time to her bridge school - Ms. Seagram still finds time to play the game she loves. 

"I try to play at least once a week," she says. "I play with my husband Alex who has been playing since he was seven years old and is much better than I am. I don't think I'll ever stop playing."

Back to Alumni News Direct - November 2016