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Memorable Manitobans: John Rickard Clements (1838-1926)


Born in Ontario on 10 October 1838, he moved to Iowa, staying there until June 1874 when he came to Winnipeg by way of the Dawson Trail. He then returned to Ontario, bought 50 sewing machines, and had them shipped to Winnipeg where he opened a store. He later reminisced that he paid for the ox used to haul water in the fledgling community. He continued in the piano and sewing machine business for six years, also buying real estate along Main Street. He built the Brunswick Hotel, Bijou Theatre, Burns Block, Clements Block, and other buildings in downtown Winnipeg. He and his wife Almira McLeod (1855-1932) had three children: Louis Ray Clements (?-1958), John Franklin Clements, and Bessie Lucretia Clements (1881-1946, wife of Frederick Charles Hamilton).

In 1880, he visited Florida and began spending more time there until, later in his life, he established a primary residence at Tampa, though he continued to do business in Winnipeg. In 1918, he formed the Clements Loan and Investment Company, with himself as President. Later in his life, he made several large philanthropic gifts to the Winnipeg General Hospital and the YWCA. He died while visiting Eugene, Oregon on 26 September 1926. His body was returned to Winnipeg for burial in the Elmwood Cemetery. His estate was worth over $240,000. His son Louis donated a large sum in his memory to The Winnipeg Foundation.


1921 Canada census, Ancestry.

“Personal and social [Mr. and Mrs. John R. Clements],” Manitoba Free Press, 11 August 1910, page 9.

““Y” receives start towards endowment,” Winnipeg Tribune, 6 October 1922, page 9.

“Winnipeg philanthropist celebrates 84th birthday,” Manitoba Free Press, 10 October 1922, page 10.

“Tampan recalls pioneer days at two extreme of continent”, Tampa [Florida] Morning Tribune, 11 October 1924. [Transcribed at]

“Pioneer investor in Winnipeg land dies”, Manitoba Free Press, 29 September 1926, page 3.

“J. R. Clements’ burial will be in Winnipeg”, Manitoba Free Press, 1 October 1926, page 5.

“J. R. Clements funeral is held this afternoon,” Winnipeg Tribune, 1 October 1926, page 8.

Winnipeg estate file #17505, John R. Clements, Archives of Manitoba.

“Pioneer dies,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 16 September 1932, page 5.

“Mrs. Almira M. Clements, Manitoba pioneer, dead,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 15 September 1932, page 10.

“Mrs. Almira Clements to be buried at Elmwood,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 17 September 1932, page 5.

Elmwood Cemetery transcriptions, FindAGrave.

We thank Nathan Kramer for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 29 April 2018

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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