Memorable Manitobans: Paul Melsted Clemens (1870-1966)
Born in Iceland in August 1870, he emigrated to Chicago in 1884 where he trained as an architect at the Armour Institute. He moved to Winnipeg in 1898 and worked with a large group of Icelandic settlers who, as contractors, craftsmen and labourers, worked cooperatively and used their native language on the work site. In early 1903, he was a member of the architectural and contracting firm of Johnson and Clemens, in partnership with Isak Johnson. By late 1903, he worked alone, specializing in the design of plain and undistinguished walk-up apartment blocks, many of which were built during the building boom in Winnipeg between 1908 and 1914. He remained in Winnipeg until 1921, then moved back to Chicago and continued to practice. He later lived at Norfolk, Virginia where he was a member of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.
On 15 August 1905, he married Laufey G. Gudjonsdottir (1884-1980) at Winnipeg. They had five children: Paul Henry Clemens (1906-1968, husband of Mabel Reykdal), Thorkell George Clemens (1910-1919), Dorothy Gudrun Ingibjorg Clemens (1912-2004, wife of Vigus H. Johnson), John Christian Walter Clemens (1917-1984, husband of Mary Malkovich), and Lillian Alice Clemens (1919-1967, wife of Roy W. Carson).
He died at Excelsior Springs, Missouri on 14 October 1966 and was buried in the Ashern United Cemetery. The Archives of Manitoba has a small collection of his drawings for projects executed between 1905 to 1921.
Some of his architectural works in Manitoba included:
Birth and marriage registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
Classified advertisement [Johnson and Clemens], Manitoba Free Press, 11 May 1903, page 12.
1911 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.
“Large apartment block [Ramona Court],” Manitoba Free Press, 10 April 1911, page 13.
“Man dies as flames rip block,” Winnipeg Free Press, 13 February 1965, page 1.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 18 October 1966, page 28.
Obituary [Paul Henry Clemens], Winnipeg Free Press, 9 October 1968, page 35.
Obituary [Laufey Clemens], Winnipeg Free Press, 15 September 1980, page 70.
Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada, 1800-1950 by Robert G. Hill, Toronto.
Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.
We thank Lenore Clemens and Christian Cassidy for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 4 April 2021