Semmens, John Nelson

SEMMENS, John Nelson (1879-1960) was born in Toronto on 7 June 1879, the son of a Methodist minister. He was educated at Wesley College in Winnipeg and moved to Philadelphia where he graduated from the School of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. He worked in the New York office of McKim Mead & White and was appointed by them in 1910 to act as superintending architect for their commission to design the Bank of Montreal in Winnipeg. Semmens chose to remain there for the rest of his career and worked under his own name except for a brief period from 1935 to 1939 when his nephew Harold N. Semmens assisted him. He became an acknowledged expert in school design and 'set a standard for school work in Western Canada' (comments from B. Evan Parry, R.A.I.C. Journal, vii, Oct. 1930, 374). His best works from the period include Issac Newton Junior High School (1922) and Daniel McIntyre Collegiate (1922), both designed in a faithful and carefully detailed Tudor Revival style. Semmens had a distinguished career with the Canadian Army, serving overseas during WWI with the Winnipeg Grenadiers and accepting the appointment as their commanding officer from 1917 onward. He was elected President of the Manitoba Assoc. of Architects in 1921 and again in 1941, and retired from practice after 1950. Semmens then moved to Victoria in 1957 where he died on 2 November 1960 (biog. in H. Boam, The Prairie Provinces of Canada, 1914, 103; obituary in Winnipeg Free Press, 5 Nov. 1960, 63). His portrait can be found at the offices of the Manitoba Assoc. of Architects, Winnipeg.


(with McKim, Mead & White) BANK OF MONTREAL, Main Street at Portage Avenue, 1910 (C.R., xxiv, 23 Feb.1910, 24; Const., vi, April 1913, 126, 130-4, illus. & descrip.)
BANNATYNE PUBLIC SCHOOL, in the St. James neighbourhood, 1911 (Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 18 March 1911, 9, t.c.)
WELLINGTON CRESCENT, near the Maryland Street bridge, residence for Edmund L. Taylor, 1911-12 (Winnipeg b.p. 1411, 1911; Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 22 March 1913, 9, illus.; dwgs. at Winnipeg City Archives)
BREEN MOTOR CO., Broadway, between Maryland Street and Sherbrooke Street, auto garage, 1911 (Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 25 March 1911, 5, descrip.; Winnipeg b.p. 305, 1911; dwgs. at Winnipeg City Archives)
LYCEUM THEATRE, Portage Avenue at Smith Street, in the Stobart Block, 1912 (Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 21 June 1912, 8; Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 6 July 1912, 11)
TURNER-WALKER BLOCK, Henry Avenue at Ellen Street, 1912 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 30 Nov. 1912, 13, illus. & descrip.; City of Winnipeg, 1987-The Year Past, 1989, 39-40, illus.)
A.C. McRAE MOTORS CO., William Avenue, large motor car garage, 1912 (Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 12 June 1912, 8; Winnipeg b.p. 1992, 1912)
MARYLAND STREET METHODIST CHURCH, Maryland Street at Sargent Avenue, 1913 (C.R., xxvii, 22 Oct. 1913, 69)
SELKIRK AVENUE, at Powers Street, residence for Edmund H. Neville, 1914 (C.R., xxviii, 21 Jan. 1914, 42)
CARNEGIE LIBRARY, NORTH END BRANCH, Salter Street at Machray Avenue, 1914-15 (C.R., xxviii, 20 May 1914, 77; Winnipeg b.p. 2901, 1914; Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 2 Feb. 1915, 2, t.c.)
RUSKIN ROW, residence for Robert R. Scott, 1914 (City of Winnipeg, 1991-The Year Past, 55-7, illus.)
KINGSWAY AVENUE, at Guelph Street, residence for an unidentified client, 1914 (Const., vii, July 1914, 261-2, 265, illus. & descrip.)
CANADIAN NATIONAL INST. FOR THE BLIND, Gertie Street, 1920 (Winnipeg b.p. 1802, 1920)
CENTRAL TECHNICAL HIGH SCHOOL, Wellington Avenue at Alverstone Street, 1920 (Winnipeg Tribune, 3 June 1920, 6)
MacLEAN METHODIST MISSION, Alexander Avenue, 1921 (L. Murphy, Missions & Settlement Houses in Manitoba 1880-1930, 63, illus.)
CAPITOL MOTORS, Main Street at Pritchard Avenue, auto garage, 1922 (C.R., xxxvi, 22 Feb. 1922, 52)
KELVIN TECHNICAL HIGH SCHOOL, Kingsway Avenue at Academy Road, 1922 (C.R., xxxvi, 29 March 1922, 52)
ISSAC NEWTON JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL, Parr Street at Alfred Avenue, 1922 (C.R., xxxvi, 7 June 1922, 50; R.A.I.C. Journal, iv, Nov. 1927, 401-02, 411, illus. & descrip.)
DANIEL McINTYRE COLLEGIATE, Alverstone Street at Wellington Avenue, 1922 (C.R., xxxvii, 3 Jan. 1923, 18-19, illus. & descrip.; R.A.I.C. Journal, iv, Nov. 1927, 404-6, 408, 411, illus. & descrip.)
ACADEMY ROAD, at Niagara Street, store for Maj. David M. Duncan, 1922 (Winnipeg b.p. 521, 1922)
GRACE HOSPITAL, Arlington Street at Preston Avenue, major addition for the Salvation Army, 1923 (C.R., xxxvii, 15 Aug. 1923, 50)
SALVATION ARMY CADET COLLEGE, Dominion Street at Portage Avenue, 1926 (C.R., xl, 19 May 1926, 48, t.c.; Const., xix, Sept. 1926, 295)
WELLINGTON CRESCENT, at Waterloo Street, residence for A.H. Williamson, 1928 (C.R., xlii, 26 Sept. 1928, 70)
WESTERN CANADA MOTOR CAR CO., Edmonton Street near Portage Avenue, major addition to auto showroom and garage, 1929; demol. 2007 (C.R., xliii, 27 Nov. 1929, 66)
SECURITY STORAGE & WAREHOUSE CO., Portage Avenue at Huntleigh Street, warehouse, 1929 (C.R., xliii, 19 April 1929, 74)
ST. VITAL, MAN., tuberculosis sanitarium for St. Boniface Hospital, Tache Avenue, 1930; children's hospital, 1931 (C.R., xliv, 10 Sept. 1930, 61; C.R., xlv, a April 1931, 59, t.c.; R.A.I.C. Journal, viii, Jan. 1931, 30-1, 33, illus. & descrip.)
(with Northwood & Chivers and Pratt & Ross) CIVIC AUDITORIUM, Memorial Boulevard at Vaughan Street, 1931-32 (Const., xxv, Dec. 1932, 273-7, 286, illus. & descrip.; R.A.I.C. Journal, x, Oct. 1933, 164-9, illus. & descrip.)
H.L. McKINNON & CO., Colony Street near Portage Avenue, warehouse, 1932 (C.R., xlvi, 23 March 1932, 51, t.c.)
ST. MATTHEW'S ANGLICAN CHURCH, St. Matthews Avenue at Maryland Street, major alterations and repairs, 1945 (C.R., lviii, July 1945, 99)
ENGLISH LUTHERAN CHURCH OF THE REDEEMER, Wellington Crescent at Academy Road, 1946 (Winnipeg Tribune, 29 June 1946, 6, illus. & descrip.)
ST. GEORGE'S ANGLICAN CHURCH, Grosvenor Avenue at Wilton Street, 1949 (C.R., lxii, Jan. 1949, 188)
UNITED COLLEGE, Portage Avenue at Balmoral Street, theological and library building, 1949 (C.R., lxii, March 1949, 139)
ST. VLADIMIR'S & OLGA CATHEDRAL, McGregor Street, 1950-51 (Winnipeg Free Press, 16 April 1951, 3, illus. & descrip.)


SASKATOON, SASK., 3rd Avenue Methodist Church, 3rd Avenue North at 24th Street East, 1912-13 (Moose Jaw Evening Times, 17 June 1911, 1, descrip.; C.R., xxv, 5 July 1911, 60)
BANNATYNE, MAN., public school, 1911 (C.R., xxv, 22 March 1911, 52, t.c.)
SASKATOON, SASK., Bedford Road Collegiate, Avenue G North at Bedford Road, 1922 (L. Orge, A History of the Saskatoon Public School System, n.p.)
DAUPHIN, MAN., MacKenzie Junior High School, First Street N.E., 1927-28 (Manitoba, Dauphin: An Architectural Walking Tour, 1988, item 11)
ST. JAMES, MAN., Collegiate Institute, 1950 (C.R., lxiii, July 1950, 120, t.c.)
CALGARY, ALTA., Mount Calvary Baptist Church, 3rd Street West, 1950-51 (dwgs. at Univ. of Calgary, Can. Architectural Archives, Stevenson-Raines Coll., 51 M64)