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POSTCARD MEMORIES: Dr. Clement still held in high 'esteem'

The Dr. Clement House, as it’s known, serves as a tangible reminder of the life, career, and service of notable Bradford physician
Lewis Clement, left, as a 21-year-old along side his elder brother Stephen, would rise from a barnyard upbringing in Innisfil to become a prosperous and respected Bradford doctor.

The home at 42 Simcoe Road, on the south-west corner of Simcoe Road and Centre Street, is more than 170 years old. Many have lived within it’s walls over the years, but one of them was so esteemed that the house has forever been linked to him.

The Dr. Clement House, as it’s known, serves as a tangible reminder of the life, career, and service of Bradford physician Lewis Clement.

One of twelve children born to Lewis James and Abigail Clement, Lewis was born April 20, 1834. He grew up on the family’s Innisfil farm and did his share of labour, but Lewis was unusually intelligent and set his mind on a career in medicine. After graduating from the University of Toronto he headed for Bradford to hang up his shingle.

On December 30, 1867, the young doctor married 21-year-old Rachael Millan Howard, whose family were farmers along the 6th Line of Bradford West Gwillimbury. They purchased and settled into the home at 42 Simcoe.

Lewis and Rachael undoubtedly hoped to fill the home with children. Lewis, after all, had eleven siblings and Rachael two. Sadly, Rachael was unable to bear children. Newspapers describe her as being ‘sickly’, so perhaps the inability to have children was tied to a childhood illness.

The lack of offspring didn’t dim their spirits, however. Lewis and Rachael opened their hearts and home to others. They took in Lewis’ niece Caroline for a time when her parents suffered from economic misfortune, and then adopted outright the son of a widowed sister.

Lewis also devoted his energies to caring for the community. For example, in 1887 Bradford was suffering from a diptheria epidemic. Lewis worked himself to the point of exhaustion tending to the many stricken with the illness. The community never forgot his selflessness.

Additionally, Lewis also gave generously to community causes. He had grown quite wealthy, both from the medical practice and from renting out farmland he inherited from his father.

With the dawn of a new century, Lewis began to feel unwell. By 1902 he was seriously ill with kidney problems. He died on December 22, 1902.

The ‘sickly’ Rachael outlived her husband by three decades. She remarried — to Bradford resident George Bannerman in 1908 — and lived until 1933.

Dr. Lewis Clement has been gone for 120 years and yet still people refer to the house at 42 Simcoe as the Dr. Clement Home. It’s a testament to the esteem with which the man and his memory was held.