Monday, 27 March 2006

Frederick Chapman Clemesha

At St Julian, on the main road from Ypres (Ipres) to Bruges called Vancouver Corner by Canadian soldiers during WW1, stands a white granite monument, the bust of a Canadian soldier standing at “rest on arms reversed”. On the front of the monument is a bronze plaque with “CANADA” in relief. It marks the battlefield where 18,000 Canadians on the British left withstood the first German gas attacks on 22-24 April 1915. 2,000 fell and lie buried nearby.

I was fortunate to be visiting the area last November at the time when a tour of aboriginal veterans was taking place. With the help of Steve Douglas, Director of the Maple Leaf Legacy Project, I found my way to this memorial to witness the ceremony.

The memorial was designed by architect and sculptor Frederick Chapman Clemesha, the son of Alfred and Laura ( Westley) Clemesha. He was born in Preston, Lancashire on 3 August 1876 and educated at the Friend's School, Bootham, Yorkshire. At the time of the 1891 census he was working as a tea dealers assistant (grocer). Later he got first hand experience in the trade on tea estates in Ceylon. He also ranched for three years in Argentina before moving to Canada in 1901, part of the massive pre-war migration from Britain to Canada. Before settling in Regina he ranched for a couple of years . On August 4th, 1914 he married Isabel Bernice Riddell, of Preston. Although a Quaker he enlisted in the 46th Battalion, Canadian infantry. In 1915 serving as lieutenant and was wounded in the cheek.

Clemesha and his partner Portnall carried out a large volume of private and public work in Regina including The Crescents and Old Lakeview residential developments. He no longer appears in the Regina city directory after 1922.

According to a report in the Regina Leader-Post he died in San Diego ca August 1958.

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